What you need to think about when launching a product

It’s crazy to think that 75% of European online shoppers drop off a website when they see a dollar sign. However, unless you look at your site analytics, you’d never know.

 

Last week Ben Hofman, founder of Atlantic Access popped in to the Fanclub HQ to talk to us about why he’s helping the most exciting tech brands focus on growing their brand, without relying on retailers and distributors. And how spotting that 75% drop off rate on previous client’s website was part of the reason he set up his business.

 

Discussing how to launch a product, and what it takes to do it successfully, here’s what Ben had to say:

 

In a sentence, what does Atlantic Access do?

We help start-ups launch in Europe the same way they would in the US.

 

What common mistakes do brands and businesses make when launching in the UK?

The biggest mistake is choosing a launch strategy based on what has been available in the past. Digital marketing and online have changed the world in the past 10 years of how to launch a brand. Brick and mortar retailers are no longer necessarily the best choice but for some reason many brands still see it as the only option in the UK to ‘launch'

 

Can you share an example of a product that got it right and launched successfully?

There are two types of brands. The big ones that have $m to pour into marketing and the smaller start-ups. Big brands like Fitbit and Ring have gone big on advertising and built awareness with TV adverts and such. Most brands don't have this luxury so have to be smarter, Tile are a great example of a brand that focused very heavily on digital first, growing their brand with direct to customer sales and Amazon. When it came to launching into brick and mortar they had sufficient awareness in the market to be a success. That said, they still had plenty of marketing funds available after successful online campaigns.

 

How important is prelaunch marketing to a launch?

Pre-launch marketing certainly helps to build the brand. Crowdfunding campaign are certainly ways to raise lots of awareness but must be backed-up by good planning and PR.

 

What must-do advice would you give to a businesses launching a new product in 2018?

If you have been successful in another territory first before moving to the EU, ask yourself why you were so successful and how you can match that here. The Distribution model of selling straight to big retailers before doing brand development may not be the right one. Focus on growing your brand first and your sales will come with it.

 

And finally, what are you looking forward to seeing at CES this year? 

I am looking forward to the re-emergence of useful connected products. The past two years there has been a flood of people making ‘connected’ products just because they can. No-one needs a connected umbrella!! Hopefully they will be replaced by useful products this year.

 

Ben Hofman is the Founder of Atlantic Access


Fanclub PR win Love Cocoa

It feels like we’ve won the golden ticket at Fanclub HQ, following the announcement of our latest client – Love Cocoa! Founded by James Cadbury (the great-great-great grandson of John Cadbury), the luxury chocolate company creates British inspired flavours with contemporary twists, including Earl Grey, English Mint and Maldon Sea Salt.

James Cadbury, Founder of Love Cocoa stated:

“Fanclub’s experience, creativity, and shared passion for chocolate made them an easy choice for me. We look forward to working with them over the upcoming months as we grow, and start sharing the Love Cocoa story” 

We’ll be handling Love Cocoa’s press office, launching new products (did you hear about the Vegan Avocado Dark Chocolate bar?) and sharing James’ story and chocolate with the world.


We chat WeChat

By Matthew Taylor

As of July 2017, Chinese super-app WeChat had 900 million daily active users, with 50% of those using the app for more than 90 minutes daily. This is more than Facebook, which last year reported its average daily user time was 55 minutes.

Lauded for its stickiness, WeChat has moulded a unique, addictive platform that has combined lifestyle, commerce, communication and service into one completely immersive, disruptive life hack. Since its launch in 2011, the all-conquering platform has transformed the fabric of China’s digital landscape.

Recently we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Edward Lindeman, Chinese Specialist and Business Development Manager at Digital Retex, WeChat’s trusted European delivery partner. In his two years living in China prior to joining Digital Retex, Edward experienced first-hand the immense power and utility of WeChat and the way that it’s changing daily life. But also, he saw the vast potential for businesses to build real, tangible consumer relationships in-app.

Speaking on WeChat's mammoth adoption, to what the future holds for the app and consumers, here’s what Edward had to say:

Why should we care about what WeChat is?

There are a few simple reasons why Europe needs to sit up and take notice. First and foremost, WeChat is setting the benchmark for integrating mobile services into social media, something that is being targeted more and more by western mobile services and social media platforms. We know that social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are paying close attention to WeChat, wanting to copy some of the incredible online-to-offline functionality inside the app. And with WeChat’s incredible user engagement rates, it’s a great example to follow in an increasingly competitive digital and mobile space.

Ultimately, if you want to predict what the future of social media and digital commerce will look like in the west, WeChat is a great place to start.

How are businesses leveraging WeChat to build consumer relationships?

Businesses traditionally use WeChat as a platform to share engaging content, in a similar way to how a company would do with social platforms in the West. This content can come in the form of articles, photos and videos that directly inform the user about a brand, and its latest offerings. WeChat is also widely used by brands as a customer service platform that allows followers to interact with a brand and ask it questions, as and when problems arise. In doing so, a brand can either respond in real time using trained staff or, as is being used more and more frequently, by using BOTS that recognise specific terms and questions. Naturally, with pro-active, intuitive and adaptive services, brands are integrating themselves closer within the lives of consumers through WeChat.

If, for example, I were a Chinese tourist following a luxury brand on WeChat, I could message the company’s page and ask where the nearest store to me is in any city around the world. To this, I can expect to get a response within a few minutes. In a wider context, we’re starting to see Facebook and Twitter pages also harness this functionality. Moving forward, I expect to see more sophisticated AI playing a key role in helping brands to build better, more tangible consumer relationships via their social channels. 

What insights can we draw upon for how WeChat works in China, for potential shifts in consumer behaviour on mobile?

One thing we know for sure is that people are spending more and more time on their phones in all parts of the world. Though our standard smartphone screen features tens of different apps like Uber, Deliveroo, Paypal, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Instagram, Google maps and many more, WeChat is showing us that it's possible to integrate these apps into one place. If a social media platform is able to replicate this effectively, then it has the very real potential to change social media from being a platform for communication and content consumption, to a place where people can also access an almost infinite range of online and offline services as well.

And more specifically, how will WeChat develop over the coming years? Are there any trends in terms of western businesses migrating to the app?

It’s hard to say exactly where WeChat will head in the coming years. It’s been one of the world’s biggest innovators in the social media space and the consumer internet in general; predicting what they’ll do next is the million-dollar question! 

I will say, though, that I think there will be a couple of main focuses that will mirror wider consumer and technological trends. Firstly, on the branding side, WeChat will likely focus on providing brands with better tools to create even richer content experiences through tools such as AI and virtual reality. Ultimately with WeChat, better consumer experiences mean higher consumer adoption and usage – this will therefore always be at the strategic focus of everything WeChat does. At the same time, I’d be surprised if Tencent doesn’t try to grow WeChat’s share of the super competitive Chinese e-commerce market that is controlled by its rival partner JD.com, and its rival arch, Alibaba.

On the user side, you can already book taxis, pay utility bills, pay for things in-store and arrange doctor’s appointments through the WeChat digital wallet. Essentially, any service that can be handled through a digital product has already been integrated into WeChat. And whilst I expect there will still be continued on this side with the arrival of new services, I see Tencent turning their focus more towards improving the WeChat user experience overseas, where it has the challenge of re-creating and scaling the experience of the app in China. Because of this, it will be crucial for western companies that serve Chinese tourists, expats and student in the UK and Europe to pay attention to what WeChat is doing in order to continue adapting their services in line with the wants and needs of this key consumer group. 

Can you give a specific example of how exactly it is that WeChat works?

Sure. A day for a Chinese WeChat user could look a little something like this…

Morning

Wake up and check messages from friends and loved ones on WeChat.

Read news stories from official media channels on WeChat.

Hire a bike using WeChat’s mini-app to ride to work.

On your way, you stop for a drink in Starbucks and pay using the WeChat wallet.

After enjoying the drink you order, you recommend Starbucks’ new style of Frappuccino to a friend via WeChat and earn loyalty bonus points as a result.

Once at work, you sign into WeChat desktop to start communicating with colleagues about daily tasks.

Lunch

Order and pay for lunch through WeChat’s Deliveroo equivalent.

Once finished, you leave a review of the food via WeChat.

Afternoon

As your Mum is coming over this evening to visit, you order a cleaner to clean your flat through WeChat.

You instantly pay the cleaner through WeChat’s digital wallet.

After checking your exes’ photos on WeChat moments, you decide that it’s time you went on holiday with your new partner.

You message your boyfriend and remind him that it’s time to book your summer vacation by sending through some options on WeChat.

You book the holiday using the WeChat wallet.

You decide that you need some new clothes for the trip so you buy a few items on Uniqlo’s mini-app built into WeChat.

You hear that you need to get a vaccination for the trip so you immediately book an appointment at the hospital using its mini-app.

Evening

You book a taxi to meet your boyfriend for dinner using WeChat.

You receive messages from your Mum saying that she’s at your apartment, asking why you aren’t here too.

You message your apartment concierge to let your mum into your flat.

Is there anything you could point us towards that really shows WeChat’s impact in China?

Whenever I’m talking to new people about WeChat, I always show them this video. It gives a great overview of the kind of behaviours that take place within WeChat, but also, it really brings to life the scale and impact of WeChat within Chinese life.

Edward Lindeman is Business Development Manager at Digital Retex.

 


Fanclub x Cision Webinar: Influencer Marketing

As geeks, we're always seeking out new ways to make our work more effective. Over the last few years, we've adapted how we work to leverage new, effective ways to help clients engage with the decision-making process of their customers.

Helping our clients set up and manage their influencer strategies is one way that we're trying to redefine what PR means today.

We believe that PR is the marketing discipline that is best placed to understand and deliver influencer marketing for clients, and we want to share our learnings with the industry, and help PRs adapt their skill-set to ensure that we're well-positioned to deliver this service in the future.

We'd love to share what we've learned with. On August 29th, 3pm-4pm, Emily and Adrian will be hosting a webinar with Cision about how to adapt your PR skills to power influencer marketing.

If you're interested, sign up at this link here.

We hope you'll join us.


The Paleo Foods Co. appoints Fanclub PR

We're stoked to announce that we're working with The Paleo Foods Co., a health food brand on a mission to disrupt the breakfast category by moving consumers away from unhealthy, packaged cereals. Instead, its range of natural granolas are free from cereal grains and packed with simple and wholesome ingredients that are low in sugar and low in carbohydrates.

As mentioned by our friends at PR Week, we'll be looking after consumer and trade PR, managing an influencer outreach programme for the brand and working on cross category new product launches. Claire Dinsmore, ‎Founder of The Paleo Foods Co. commented:

“We chose the Fanclub team for their understanding of the food and drink market and their enthusiasm for our product. Their industry experience combined with their unique approach and creativity stood out to us and we look forward to working alongside them.

Watch this space for Paleo news!

 


Why coffees and good content are more important than ever in PR

There’s been a lot of talk about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in marketing press, but less so in PR press - even though there’s room for it to affect all of us in this industry. If you don’t know what the GDPR is, then you should.

 

So, what is it?

The EU’s GDPR, to help organisations understand new legal frameworks, will come into full effect in May 2018 for both B2B and B2C communications.

From a series of new rules which will govern marketing data, the most pressing one for the industry is the need for ‘explicit consent’ from the recipient of a marketing email as well as the consent to be verifiable; in other words, having records showing the origin of the data.

The fine is hefty. Seriously hefty. It’s four per cent of global revenue or €20 million, whichever is bigger. Ouch.

 

And what’s it got to do with PR?

Unfortunately, some PRs are still guilty of sending out very sales-y press releases / e-alerts / emails which could be deemed as marketing content. For example, if you send out mail-merges of hundreds of pitch emails to try and secure coverage, then you may hit a pissed-off journalist who will deem your email as unsolicited marketing content. If they’re really pissed-off, they might flag this under the new regulations. If you can’t then prove you have consent to contact this person, you’ll be in a tricky situation. If you’re asked for a copy of the data and you don’t have it, then we’re slipping further out of the grey area and more into the red.

 

Essentially, we’re not completely sure what it means for us as PRs yet, but we had better start researching and preparing ourselves for the worst.

 

What do we do to protect ourselves?

Firstly (and this should be something all PRs are doing anyway), make sure you are providing journalists with good content that is relevant to them. Every PR event with journalist speakers and every PR / journalist forum, and I mean every single one, has a takeaway of the same message: do your research and stop pitching blindly with things that are irrelevant.

 

Yes, we are time pressed, but so are journalists- probably more so. Yes, sometimes it’s not always our own personal faults, but we should be finding time to look over our media lists and making sure we are targeting the right people with the right story. It’s in our interests, our clients’ interests and the journalist’s interests. Start prepping now and take that extra time to find those people that are relevant to your sectors, clients and pitch topics. You also need to make sure your content is quality content, and not a sales pitch. If someone requests that you destroy their data and never contact them again, then you must oblige under the new regulations- that’s a contact gone for good.

 

Secondly, work on building relationships with your key contacts. If you genuinely have something to offer them then there’s no reason why the journalist wouldn’t want to meet up and build a relationship with you. So, get networking (without taking a sales pitch along with you).

 

Thirdly, and finally, start logging your consent as if you were a marketing agency. Although this is a huge grey area, there’s no harm in beginning to prepare yourself and getting one step ahead.

 

Take a read of PR Week's story too discussing GDPR, which inspired us to blog about the regulation.


More than a pout: The power of the selfie

By Megan Linehan

Entering the grand open space of the Saatchi Gallery and turning left into the first exhibition room, you are met with an unusual sight- a Rembrandt self-portrait on a T.V. screen.

The first room of the From Selfie to Self-Expression reframes the masters for the modern era, placing portraits into a screen, next to a Huawei phone (the smartphone manufacturer who teamed up with the Saatchi Gallery for this exhibition) which encourages viewers to ‘like’ the picture a la Instagram. The growth of technology has changed the way we view images, and ultimately how we as a society behave, perfectly exemplified by the exhibit.

Suddenly with technology, the power of image is not the reserve of talented painters, of photographers who can afford film, or advertisers who can pay for a billboard. Nowadays, everyone has the power to express themselves, and share it with millions online. The exhibit explores this, not only reframing the masters, but also by placing them next to selfies created by Kris Jenner (the matriarch of the infamous Kardashian clan) and various memes that undoubtedly you have seen shared across the internet (including a man who looks remarkably like Jesus).

We are in an era of democratised expression and art, where technology has opened the floodgates of pouts and poses.  And its effects are not only seen in the exhibit content itself, but also in its attendants.

In one large room, a cacophony of voices bounce off the walls, as a projection of thousands of videos (or vlogs, if you’re down with the kids) are played on loop against the walls. While this is an impressive sight- it is not the only interesting thing in the room. I helped at least three different groups of people take pictures of their silhouettes against the walls, witnessed someone film a vlog against the wall with a selfie stick, and joined in the creation of excited Snapchats.

Technology has given us the chance to express ourselves and share our world view. While selfies are often blamed for society’s down fall, they can be a tool for sharing a moment that might have been lost - even if it is only because your eyeliner looks really good that day.

An image tells a thousand words and a selfie can be shared by millions, the selfie is everywhere. The selfie is a mode of communication that should not be ignored- it’s a medium used by all, from world renowned artists to your mother accidently opening the front facing camera. A selfie can be a joke between friends or a piece of art; it’s a bodily movement that has been elevated to be a key part of this era’s cultural zeitgeist. Such a statement is validated with this exhibit. With this exhibit, the selfie has been permanently placed as a part of our culture that isn’t something to look down on; it’s an art form for all.


Spooky campaigns: Witch were killer

By Emily Barnes

Spooky puns are devilishly difficult.

Ah, Halloween.  Often seen as another of the seasonal bandwagons for marketers and PRs to hop on and enjoy some easy hits from a campaign tenuously linked to their client. But what is Halloween if it’s not fun? By nature, it’s the season of high jinks; to be silly and creative, which is in itself, a place where great campaigns are born.

We’re going to run through a few of our favourite spooky PR and marketing stunts and campaigns, which include some examples which demonstrate that clients with a serious brand message can still cleverly use the silliness of Halloween to keep their brand front-of-mind.

1. Tesco’s ‘Spookermarket’

Delivering on the supermarket’s recent promise to inject humour into it’s marketing, Tesco’s seasonal video content for Halloween last year garnered a social media buzz and an impressive 2.4m views to date as well as praise in trade and consumer press alike.

Delivered with BBH London, the campaign saw hidden cameras capture unsuspecting Tesco shoppers being scared by various terrifying props and actors, including severed hands in freezers and heads amongst toilet rolls. The video also prompted viewers to watch four additional videos which included a pumpkin carving tutorial and tutorial for creating a (fake) severed head in a jar. Delightfully gross.

According to Campaign, the launch day saw 805 conversation hits, of which 97% were positive; proving that even the simplest execution of the beloved hidden camera prank can create a very shareable piece of content with wide appeal, going a long way to show brand personality.

2. DigitasLBi’s ‘Internet of Pumpkins’

To demonstrate the very scary data security risks when connecting to public Wi-Fi, DigitasLBi created a pumpkin which acted as a free Wi-Fi hotspot using modified Wi-Fi penetration testing equipment, which is commonly used by criminals. Oooh er.

Users who connected to the network received a ‘trick-or-treat’ message, and whilst some received a sweet treat, others received a trick in the form of a digital crack on their screen, representing the risk of damage from hackers. Each was followed with some friendly advice on how to use Wi-Fi safely and without gruesome consequences.

This is a nice way to instigate discussion on key messages and brand awareness, by utilising a fun surprise-and-delight-tactic to deliver a serious key message.

3. Volvo’s LifePaint Spooky Safety Initiative

(Main picture)

Volvo used its spray-on glow-in-dark substance for cyclist safety, LifePaint, to launch an initiative to keep trick-or-treating kids in London safe in the dark.

Launched with Grey London, ‘Be Scary, Be Safe’ encouraged parents to pick up a can of the reflective spray from their local dealership and download a set of free skeleton stencils online, spray it on to their spooky sprog and feel safe in the knowledge that their child was visible in the dark of the night.

This is an innovative approach to a season saturated with pranks and scare tactics, which reinforces brand purpose and values by providing something genuinely useful for parents and fun for kids. Win win.

4. REI’s Zombie Survival Kit

zombie
Click to learn how to survive the zombie apocalypse

 

Outdoor clothing manufacturer, REI recognised the power of the shareable viral image with its 2013 campaign which saw the company put together an infographic detailing the 13 essentials for surviving a Zombie outbreak, all of which could be bought directly from their online store.

Even better, employees in one of their stores also held a class on how to battle the enemy should a zombie attack happen, also covering basic survival skills to avoid death by the undead.

This was a great way to achieve a relatively quick-win by playing on the novelty of horror whilst shoehorning in product links seamlessly. The in-store event added the bizarre to what is seen by some as the mundane, which gave it broader appeal and buzz.

So, brands or companies with an array of brand purpose can look to Halloween to successfully embrace a season of otherworldly imagination as a vehicle to create awareness in a particularly engaging and memorable way.


3 PR lessons from Bjork

By Adrian Ma

Bjork currently has an exhibition on at Somerset House: Bjork Digital. We popped by to see what this is all about, and have distilled what we learned from her into three lessons for you.

1.      There’s always a new way to engage with your audience. As an artist Bjork pushes boundaries. Her use of VR technology takes this to another level altogether. Bjork Digital is less of an exhibition, more of a show, where she controls the sensory experience through technology, in a way that no one has before. Don’t stop innovating with your audience experience.

2.      There are rewards in dividing opinion, if you’re being true to your brand. Not everyone liked all of the content. In one VR experience, you find yourself in her mouth, which distorts and contorts as she sings her song. It feels claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Yet, it’s talked about a lot.

bjork-mouth

3.      You can even innovate with the format of the press conference. Bjork appeared at the press conference of Bjork Digital as an avatar, beamed in from Iceland. This may be a good tip for Philip Green if he wants to avoid the difficult questions at his next AGM. At least he could claim that the connection is dropping out at that crucial moment when he’s cornered about BHS.

Bjork, as an avatar at the press conference of Bjork Digital
Bjork, as an avatar at the press conference of Bjork Digital

Bjork Digital runs until 23rd October. For tickets and info click here.


We went to meet YouTube superstars, and Jedward were EVERYWHERE. This is what we learned.

By Emily Barnes

On Saturday 13th July, we headed down to the second day of the UK’s biggest annual YouTube event, Summer In The City (SitC). Starting out as a small three-day gathering in London’s parks, SitC is now a huge convention, held every year at ExCel Centre, with thousands in attendance; not only to meet their favourite YouTubers, but to catch a range of panels and performances from an extensive programme covering everything from popularity, integrity and the creative process to mental health, fandom and LGBTQ+.

As an agency that uses social talent for a range of our clients and which values being hot on the pulse of how social platforms, their users and their content are always changing, we thought we’d head down on Saturday to lend an ear to some of the discussions.

Seeing so many people walking around with their arm outstretched, walking and talking to a camera is a strange experience- there were a few near collisions of camera-holding arms, which was bizarre to say the least. Some of those were snapping selfies with Jedward, who seemed ever-present and around every corner.  The crowd was certainly young- most were under 21, and many had waited in snaking queues for hours to meet their favourite social stars- testament that the YouTube celebrity is not dead.

JEDWARD
Wave em like you just dont hair

 

Apart from vowing never to get on a fairground ride whilst hungover, especially a ride like the Waltzers where ride assistants are actively trying to make you feel dizzy and nauseous, we put together some key SitC takeaways from our experience:

YouTube for good

More than ever, YouTubers are using their platform to open up discussions about issues on LGBT, mental health and internet safety. The weekend offered a whole host of panels on these types of issues, as did the stalls at the event. The YouTube For Good panel discussed how working with charities, organisations and brands on causes can be mutually beneficial, because they can signpost their audience to resources. However, YouTubers also mentioned how working with partners on videos that discuss specific causes can come up against similar tensions to regular sponsored videos, with a lack of creative control; it remains important that the cause matches the channel brand

Working with brands must be an equal partnership

On the ‘What is the point of YouTube’ panel (yes, that’s right),  all the panellists agreed that a trusting audience is key to not feeling pressured to compromise their content with things they aren’t really passionate about when working with brands. They explained that viewers must be seen as individuals, and is of utmost importance that the YouTuber retains an element of creative control in a sponsored post, to give their audience what they respect and admire and what keeps them watching their videos. If brands don’t respect this, they’re also compromising their own reputation as well as the creator's

Millions of views doesn’t mean quality or targeted engagement

Discussing popularity vs integrity, YouTuber Sammy Paul explained that working with YouTubers who have a smaller, more engaged subscriber base can offer better quality content that they have worked much longer on, and that ‘there is something to be said about getting hundreds of thousands of views on every video- who is watching that? It’s most likely a younger crowd. Instead, people are saying ‘Hm, that’s interesting’.’ Depending of course on the purpose and content of the video, for some YouTubers, creating content that doesn’t rack up millions of views but has taken longer to produce is better for their integrity as a creator

SITC2
Aspiring YouTubers promote their own channels using the latest technology

 

So, there we have it. Creator diversity is growing evermore, with different approaches to channels, content and working with brands and organisations.

What remains as important as ever, is that clients looking to work with YouTubers must consider their approach more carefully than ever, with a well-considered approach ending up mutually beneficial.

SITC3
These two were mobbed by fans.