Levi’s, 150 years of Brand Building and Counting

This short feature investigates the digital branding tools deployed by Levi’s as part of iVersity’s Building Strong Digital Brands MOOC.

digital brandingSelected website: Levi Strauss (UK)

I decided to review Levi Strauss as I was curious to see how this international, time warn brand chose to engage with customers in today’s digitally rich world.

Interestingly, Levi’s seem to be one of those companies that, from the very earlies days of its existence, knew about good branding.

  1. Levi’s and the brand big four (IAIC)

As a consumer brand (B2C), Levi’s has a tremendous opportunities to engage audience through digital media.


Levi boasts brand assets on the following platforms: Facebook (22.2M likes), Twitter US (775.3K followers), Pinterest, Tumblr, Youtube (41.8k subs) and Instagram. Branding is consistent across those resources.


Web and social media resources exploit responsive design ie the brand experience is tailored to the platform it is viewed upon (smartphone, tablet, etc.) and has consistency across platforms. Levi’s cater to multitude regions having web sites in multiple languages. The wide range of resources can be accessed on demand, across multiple platforms.


Levi’s offers limited interactive resources. I noted that they have a product selector sub-divided into individual sub-brands like the 501 selector or Selvedge selector.  They also feature a shop lookbook which emphasises visuals. With a multitude of sub brands and clothing types they do have complexity to deal with when telling their various stories from a central web site. I noted that they have a guided feedback system, which I felt they could make more of. I noted that they have some online resources to guide how individuals can customise products building a personalised brand experience (more here).


The web resources are responsive – ie the brand experience is tailored to the platform it is viewed upon (smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC) and has consistency across those platforms. Further research lead me to discover that in South Africa Levi’s commissioned the Pioneer Nation app, which aims to make customers the hero of their own story.

Brand storytelling at Levi’s

This is one of the core strengths of Levi’s. The story is simple and well known. Levi’s was established by a German migrant who moved to the San Francisco in 1853 (during the gold rush). He established a dry goods and clothing business. Levi Strauss, together with Jacob Davis, a tailor from Reno, teamed to create the hard working denim jeans. Part of their uniqueness was the steel riveting used to give strength.

In 1886 the iconic ‘two horses’ brand mark was registered and this symbol conveys the brand promise with clarity. The Levi’s brand reward promise, comprise the following elements: Quality, strength, longevity, utility.

Brand positioning – The original denim jean. Levi’s brand values: Empathy, Integrity, Originality and Courage.

Levi’s offers an interesting walk through their last 150 years of history here (Levi’s timeline). This resource shows a clear commitment to brand. The best source of brand information and storytelling is Levi’s central brand site: www-http://www.levistrauss.com

Brand storytelling into the future.

Brands must move with the times to stay relevant. This is an active process for Levi’s with the ‘Made of progress’ initiative. Sustainability is a concern for many, and Levi’s has responded accordingly.

Levi’s brand codes

Brand codes comprise the human engagement channels that a brand uses to deliver its brand experience. This comprises four elements as follows: senses, symbols, stories and language. What follows is a quick comment of each of these elements as adopted by Levi’s.


Levi jeans provide a multi-sensory experience in reality. Clothing choice is a highly personal decision. In the real world out on the streets and more specifically in the store Levi’s can delivery a multi-sensory experience including, sight, touch, smell and sound. In an online environment senses are naturally limited to sight and sound, but with creative multi-media storytelling Levi’s can create resources that can exploit user imagination to fill in some of the missing senses (as any cinematic experience can).


A number of brand symbols have emerged over the years from the ‘two horses’ to the ‘Red tab’ brand mark. Product names have also become iconic starting with 501s. More recently, Levi’s has placed greater emphasis on storytelling and user experience which is expressed through the #Livewithlevis initiative – which is a modern use of symbol.


Levi works hard at engaging individuals through stories. This is seen especially clearly in their recent Commuters campaign.


Recurring linguistic themes can be found in a broad range of Levi’s marketing. Themes include: quality, strength, longevity and utility. But the terms of reference for storytelling are deeply personal and connect with freedom and old world adventure. This is pitching the brand as a lifestyle choice.

Levi’s and People

People are the means through which human connection can be established and capturing depth to that connection is a powerful way to tell memorable brand stories. This is especially true if we can exploit the tools of the hero’s journey. We learned in the brand storytelling MOOC how that making the content consumer the hero of the journey can help amplify the brand communication effects. I have yet to find a stand out example of this approach however.

Another approach used is to make staff the heroes of the story. I uncovered this story from 5/11/15 just today from the New York times. Here we learn that the protagonist of this feature, Bart Sights, has a distinctive feature – his indigo blue fingernails.

Levi’s is a world of difference, or is it?

I took a quick look at one obvious competitor, namely Wrangler. What this quick research showed was that Wrangler have their own distinctive brand identity and rightly so.

Wrangler’s tag line is ‘Born ready’. Their most recent online promotions seem to be focused on emphasising comfort and style. Noteworthy is their use of the #comfortunderpressure hashtag in their twitter marketing.

What emerges from the Wrangler narrative is that, whilst Levi’s might be the original jeans, there’s plenty to engage an audience around a separate identity. In fact, with Wrangler’s they have created stories of adventure under the ‘Born ready’ theme. Through this approach, I can see their brand appealing to a younger more dynamic market demographic.

Build your Digital Maturity. Stop Yelling!

Marketing has changed forever and social networks and the internet are to blame.

Today, companies without digital maturity are significantly disadvantaged. Companies with digital maturity extend customer reach. Even so, they can no longer yell at customers, or interrupt them.

These days the emphasis is on utility marketing. Providing help when it’s needed; being found at the right moment. It is a whole new marketing paradigm.

Digital maturity
Digital Business Maturity model

Research shows that only 1% of UK SMEs are at Level 3 (fully integrated) on the digital marketing maturity roadmap shown above. Worse still, a full 50% of UK SME’s have no digital marketing whatsoever.

digital maturity

Don’t panic! A new MOOC ( #passion4digital), launched in summer 2015 is here to help. It provides a host of actionable learnings. There is something here for everyone, irrespective of their current digital maturity. It’s a great way to get to grips with this stimulating topic and it’s a sure fire way of giving individuals a career boost in an area of growing industry demand.

Course highlights:

  • Over 12k participants first time around
  • 6 weeks of varied on-line study
  • Extensive, high quality video lectures and a host of background resources

Still sceptical about digital? Well consider research from the CEB in the US which indicates that 57% of the buyer’s journey is already concluded before a sales person gets involved. The message should be clear. Ignore digital marketing at your peril. Today, early customer engagement happens on-line, not with your sales team. You have to do something about this.

digital maturity
The buyer’s journey (courtesy CEB)

What to expect from this course?

Coming from a business background myself, I set my expectations in the time honoured fashion of a SMART objective as follows:

  • S – to complete the course meeting the learning outcomes, commit to engage with it and carry out my own self-directed research around the subject material.
  • M – Publish the work assignments on time. Achieve a point score to secure a verified certificate on course completion.
  • A – Highly achievable as I already have some high level background in the subject area. Schedule suitable learning time to complete the exercises and on-line questions.
  • R – Yes, the course provides useful and timely background material relevant to my current job. Fitting the tasks in with other commitments might however prove a bit of a stretch
  • T – Keep up with released modules and complete the course aligned within the official deadlines schedule.

Beyond this high level goal, I had some specific outcomes in mind, namely:

  • Gain some insights into how to build an actionable digital content plan
  • Gain a better understanding of the relative merits of several of the major social platforms
  • Build understanding of social measurement and engagement tools

Course impact

This course has met all of my objectives and broadened my understanding which on the face of it really appears a complex area, even to someone who has been involved in technical marketing for many years. I was born ahead of the social era!

Powerful theory

My understanding of digital and social media marketing has benefitted from discussions on the theoretical basis on the following specific topics:

  • digital maturity concept
  • viral marketing as summarised in the STEPPS concept
  • formal project planning techniques are hugely helpful in implementing digital strategy and should include the use of risk assessment tables to quantify potential risks and GANTT charts to provide an overview for content creation programs

Practical help

Multiple learning exercise provided actionable advice combined with an opportunity to explore topics in a deeper manner. As a result of these sessions I gained the following new insights:

  • the importance of testing social media interactions
  • approaches to build a keyword library and how important keywords are to SERP
  • how a project management approach to digital customer engagement can be used to sell management stakeholders on what budget digital success demands
  • how to avoid wasteful PPC by targeting both buyer personas and the platform where they mingle

Impact on my projects

There are several significant insights I have gained from this course as follows:

  • It is clear that professional digital marketers are now focusing on ROI with the aim to continuously improve performance. Until recently, the industry seemed overly focused on click through rates without understanding that C-suite folks expect revenue growth from marketing budgets.
  • A focus on professional project management is a good program approach.
  • That emotion is a key criteria to drive customer engagement with your subject matter.
  • Growing your audience requires establishing relationships ahead of selling whatever product or service you have. Content really is the key here (as is SEO).

Social capital and individual relationships

Social capital is a key to building engagement. It can be achieved by becoming known as a thought leader, a topic expert. Active engagement within social networks and being prepared to offer help to people when you have unique skills and insights is part of growing individual social capital. It is in this respect that the internet might have its biggest impact yet over the next few decades. Personally, I have enjoyed the interactions amongst my fellow course participants and have established contacts which may prove helpful in future endeavours.

Next steps – Future outlook

My initial digital endeavours for the next six months are mapped out in the GANTT chart below.

digital maturity
GANTT chart – 6 months of proactive digital marketing

It is important to consider risks as part of the planning process like those indicated in the risk assessment below.


digital maturity
Program risk factors.


What is your personal digital maturity?

How does your organisation rank for digital maturity? Many companies desperately need help. So why not get into this game early. Become a trailblazer! You owe it to yourself to find out about digital and social media marketing.

Find out more here on the next Salford Business School (@salfordbizsch) digital and social media marketing MOOC and find your path to enlightenment!

digital maturity
Raise digital maturity to find marketing karma


This post may be used as part of Salford Business School’s future MOOC marketing efforts!

The World needs Savvy Digital Marketers

Digital marketing is a key skill in short supply! This is perhaps why many people are investing time to study iVersity’s digital marketing MOOC (massively on-line open course).

This short post makes six suggestions to promote the Digital Marketing MOOC to a new audience. Then it considers two of the powerful planning tools to emerge in the fourth module of the MOOC and applies them to a proposed promotional campaign.

Digital marketing is a highly dynamic sector with a major, current skills shortage across the globe. As Adobe’s Digital Roadblock Report 2015 remarked:

  • Nearly half (48%) of UK marketers are worried about how they will adapt to changes in the industry, driven by technology
  • Four in ten (40%) marketers feel they do not have the skills to perform their jobs successfully
  • Technology-based marketing roles were cited as the most under-represented and continue to be the top areas for hiring year on year – this includes Mobile Marketer (29%) and Digital Marketer roles (27%)

The same problem the World over

Although these are UK focused data points, I’d point out that the UK has one of the most advanced marketing landscapes on the planet. After all, it is the home of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). The UK is also widely recognised as a pioneer both in the service and consumer products sectors. I think it fair to say that, by extension, many companies across the EU and further afield share this basic challenge.

digital marketing

It is against this backdrop that I propose some approaches to handle the digital marketing campaign to promote the next run of the Digital and Social Media Marketing MOOC by the University of Salford’s business school. I do this based on some observations of perceived deficiencies in the original JEMSS brand marketing plan produced by five Salford post-grads.

Chief observations – current state of play:

  • No formal definition of the target audience was supplied – the buyer persona is (or was) ill-defined.
  • The JEMSS report focused strictly on an undergraduate audience. But this author believes a greater fluency of the key digital marketing issues across organisations is an important concept to grasp – whether undergraduate or graduate professionals. Considering a professional audience as well, extends the target audience size when recognised.
    • This author, a senior marketer, who has only recently started to get a full formal grounding in digital sees how important this is for a broad range of businesses and thus the potential for this or an enlarged future MOOC.
  • Those in the know understand the current industry challenges as regards digital marketing. However, early efforts to market the MOOC relied on this self-knowledge.
    • Marketing often demands educating the audience to see what they don’t automatically see.
    • Promote the MOOC in terms of how it solves the audiences’ problems
  • Co-marketing is powerful and can increase both the audience reach and build extra perceived value.
  • iVersity was clever to bundle The DSMM course with the digital branding to extend the perceived career benefits of its MOOC offering.

The Next Generation of this MOOC – ideas to consider

As the MOOC is all about digital and social media marketing, then it is clear that social channels ought to be the focus for promotional efforts. Furthermore the limited marketing budget ensures this is the only viable marketing route to take.

Six ideas for consideration

So here’s a few thoughts on what to do differently next time around.

  1. Consider the audience personas for the course. Suggest it important to identify a multitude of personas that cut across: cultural backgrounds, perceived pain points and age groups – especially extend your thoughts towards a broader definition of marketing. Refer to Mckinsey on ‘We’re all marketers now’ for some further ideas. Insights could also be drawn from the first courses user profiles here.
  2. Given the professional approach to digital marketing adopted by this course, consider exploiting and engaging via more professional social networks in future. LinkedIn and Carii spring to mind.
  3. Give thought to making use of some user generated content.
    • Ahead of completing the course first time around, propose that participants make short video testimonials for you on the following topics:
      • The most important learning from this course
      • What worked best
      • The most important tools discovered
  4. Publish short posts on key agenda topics that appear over the six weeks duration of the course work – this gives future participants a clear idea of some of the major discussion themes and creates further interest around the topics.
  5. Mine user feedback from the first course and use interesting insights that emerge as seed material for short form web posts. Perhaps also create a series of visual sound bites and pin to Pinterest or other visual format social platforms.
  6. Solve the audiences’ problems and use storytelling to engage. When planning communication next time around, pull on the learnings and feedback from this run of the course. Use that to create rich written content that describes what you have learned of your audiences’ problems. This lies at the heart of Content marketing.

Two useful campaign planning tools

During the fourth module, the importance of risk management was highlighted and the risk assessment table was introduced along with an overview of the Gantt chart – oft used in project management circles.

Risk assessment is key to digital marketing as its important to understand the environment in which your marketing operates and the fact that social media provides an ‘intimate‘ route for user brand engagement. Social can kill a brand if a brand strategy is not carefully conceived and managed across channels (both virtual and real). It is also important to test and react quickly to a fast changing external environment. In the case of building the next campaign for this MOOC, I have included a sample of some of the risks that I would be concerned about this time around.

digital marketing
RIsk assessment form

The Gantt chart is a great way to summarise the key project tasks that need to happen and in what order, when. Gantt charts are linear in time, project maps which help identify roadblocks – that is the people or resources that need to align with the plan to ensure effective and timely delivery of actionable tasks.

Gantt charts are widely used in product management fields, giving senior management a simple view of the world on which management decisions can be made. In principle, they enable project managers to justify resourcing decisions, dynamically, once management have signed off on a particular project. A sample Gantt chart for the new campaign is provided below as it pertains to this assessment.

digital marketing
Gantt chart showing a marketing campaign proposal

Note that this proposal contains some unique aspects including the provision of brief social sound bites. These are short tweets on key topics covered during the course. The aim of these is to stimulate engagement and dialog amongst the target audience. Note also the inclusion of testimonial youtube videos. This exploits user generated content. I suggest reaching out to current participants to record brief video snippets with aspects of the course that they either most enjoyed or that stood out to them. Submissions can be made to the MOOC organisers to edit and align the snippets into content to fit the proposed Gantt timeline. As people tend to have spare time at weekends, this is an activity focused on weekend slots.

Closing thoughts

Gaining an audience is the first actionable outcome for any digital marketing team. However it is not the first consideration in planning your initial forays into digital marketing if you are to avoid the many pitfalls. What the Digital and social media marketing MOOC has striven to underscore with many practical examples, is that there is a lot to consider ahead of the start. This is a highly complex world. But it can be managed, with the application of skills learned on the course and using low cost on-line tools to be found on the web.

Oh, by the way, an obvious point to note is that JEMSS could automatically gain a major SEO boost as a result of all the participant posts from the first run of the MOOC. This is effectively free course marketing that benefits both iVersity and the MOOC tutor team. However, as the posts are within iVersity’s platform, then the only boost the specific MOOC gets is from posts to #passion4digital. Then again, maybe that’s good enough.

Finally it occurs, that the MOOC organisers consider broadening their partner base. For instance, would it not make sense to form a partnership with the CIM? They would be an obvious institution to bring on board as a course recommender. The MOOC might be positioned as a part of their associate professional development pathway.

Hopefully I included some original thoughts that have piqued interest in this course and digital marketing in general! Sit and dwell on this proposal for a while, see what you think and feel free to comment below.

digital marketing
Give it some thought

Have I whet your appetite for digital marketing?

If so, why not check out iVersity’s Digital and Social Media Marketing MOOC and be sure to enrol for the next time around!

Interested to see what current participants make of the course, then check out the #passion4digital hashtag for up to the minute commentary from course participants and tutors alike?


Taking the high ground – how Apple wins the marketing game


Without a shadow of a doubt many consumer product companies can’t but be in awe of Apple’s rise from near bankruptcy to its present status as the largest company by market value along with the world’s most powerful brand.

Buyer persona is the core to a digital marketing strategy. It exists to enable all those involved in brand experience delivery have a strong understanding of what a customer looks like. Arguably as we move to more individualised on-line experiences the persona is even more important now than ever. It is there to guide where customers’ interests lie, how they react and where their concerns and pain points exist. It is there to guide copy writing to create an emotional impact.

How did Apple get to where it is today?

Well there are many articles published that provide insights into this Californian success story. In reality much is to do with attention to detail, understanding customer psychology. Whether it be in design, going it alone, trailblazing or out front innovation. Apple is acclaimed for its user experience which sweeps throughout the buyers journey, from initial digital marketing, through purchase and on to after sales care through their Genius bars. However, one thought looms large to this author and that is Apple’s customer understanding.

Apple is perhaps not the most obvious company to choose from the perspective of buyer persona. Apple products are not simply owned by the obvious ‘Applerati’. Those aspirational types with high powered jobs and the free cash to afford Apple’s up market products. No there’s more to it than that.

Apple have been experts at building an experience for their customers. Customers may come from a wide array of backgrounds – iPhone ownership is testament to that. However, it is in their attention to marketing details that is key here. Their messages are always well managed and in every media channel and across regions the Apple brand shines through at a personal level.

Apple buyer persona

What are the elements of the Apple buyer persona. In reality it would be hard to summarise as one persona. I expect Apple has many personas in place, however I can see a number of common themes across those personas which I list below:

  1. Aspirational individuals – I seek out the best experiences, I am prepared to pay for the best
  2. IT is usually painful – I seek simplicity, technology that works for me.
  3. Design orientation – I like design and appreciate aesthetics
  4. Professionals, especially creatives – My work is all about creativity, I need a tool to suit
  5. Tech wherever I happen to be – whether desktop, mobile, tablet – I seek a joined up experience, all my files in one place, all my devices talk to each other seamlessly.
  6. Tech evangelist – I love technology and want to be ahead of the curve.

Apple and search

Apple of course is brand focused and is used to individually branding products which gives them an edge in managing search over their competitors. Competitors are often forced to use generic keywords. To back up the above persona statements, I have identified some generic search terms that are likely to be important to Apple.

  • Best (or Apple) laptop
  • Best (or Apple) smartphone
  • Best (or Apple) portable music player
  • Best (or Apple) tablet
  • Best (or Apple) smartwatch
  • Cool tech product design

Take action

Before starting out on a digital marketing campaign be sure to give serious thought to your own buyer persona. For help developing one targeting your specific customers consider this helpful resource: http://makemypersona.com



Gain Digital Marketing Impact Using the Right Social Media Channels


When it comes to digital marketing, do you realise that Google is not a window on the web, rather it’s a biased index of content tailored (hopefully) to user needs?

In his 2011 TED talk ‘Beware of filter bubbles’, Eli Pariser explains how algorithms are already personalising our web experiences. Potentially isolating us all in our own tailored content bubbles. We learn that search algorithms and SEO are effectively restricting our web view. Algorithms, rather than human editors are the curators of our on-line experiences.

So how do you ensure your enterprise still gets noticed?

Driving on-line attention requires thoughtful engagement strategies exploiting high quality content made discoverable to your audience. Content that builds your brand reputation over time and is optimised to gain the attention of search algorithms and humans alike. Your content must find a way of reaching into the right social networks.

Its not just about Facebook

The game is not about dominating specific, big name channels. It is about paying attention to the right mix of on-line activities and combination of channels to ensure audience traction. Realise that social channels differ geographically. This means, for global businesses, social tactics should be tailored to the local environment.

Make a social plan

To help build a social media campaign consider these three steps:

  1. Check local social adoption rates – try googling: ‘Pinterest global penetration’ for example. This key step might lead you to some surprising conclusions. Pinterest already has 16 % global penetration, but US penetration is more than three times higher than Europe’s.
  2. Identify where your target audience hangs out and find out what is topical.
  3. Build a strategy and develop content suiting the social sites most relevant to your audience.

How BMW does it

Consider BMW. BMW is an interesting company to examine as it’s a truly global luxury brand with a diverse range of products and audiences. Who does not immediately recognise that the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ is a BMW?

Primary on-line social media assets that BMW exploits are its own website (bmw.com), its Facebook site, Twitter and Youtube channels.

In the Facebook world, BMW is noted for surpassing all other auto brands. It currently has 18.97 million fans and entertains them with visual updates featuring many of its cars. Much of this content is photo albums and video reviews (on Youtube). A sample of how BMW presents itself to its ‘M’ brand audience is given here: The M4 GTS racing the Nürbergring Nordschleife.

Noteworthy is the level of Facebook engagement BMW have. Their posts regularly attract 10k likes, 100k is not uncommon. Econsultancy points out, this level of engagement is far in excess of other highly visible consumer brands (e.g. Red Bull and Starbucks). BMW must be doing something right!

BMW’s Twitter engagement is nearly twenty times lower than Facebook (at 1M followers). On Youtube, BMW boasts several subscription channels, with channels targeting regional needs as well as those of BMW sub-brands (e.g Mini).

Take inspiration

I hope this inspires you to carry out your own study of the social media strategy choices made by a favourite brand of yours.

Interested to learn more about BMW’s digital strategy, check out these extra resources:

Econsultancy discusses how BMW exploits social media channels.

BMWblog judges whether BMW or Audi can claim the best social media strategy.

5 Digital Marketing Lessons from iVersity

digital marketing

I want to present the topics I found most interesting in week 1 of iVersity’s digital and social media marketing MOOC. Readers of this piece will see that I have tracked down supportive materials from across the web to further substantiate some of the lessons of the first week, which I hope you find useful. My intention is to broaden our view of the digital marketing topic and not simply produce notes from the core material.

Before dipping into the highlights, I would like to share an interesting background on digital marketing published by the Guardian back in 2013. This article gives useful insights into what digital marketing is about and tells a compelling story of why it is so important to get it right. Quoting the Guardian’s introduction:

‘Digital marketing, which reaches customers interactively through web, mobile and social media, is in rapid ascendance. But not all companies – and, more importantly, their marketing departments – have embraced the creative opportunities that social media offer.’

The article closes with an interesting conclusion on digital marketing maturity which serves as a good lead in to my first highlight.

  1. Corporate digital marketing maturity
digital marketing maturity
An Alternate Corporate Digital Maturity Index

Digital marketing maturity is a fairly simple concept to grasp. Even so, it is useful to inform understanding of the state of digital marketing adoption within companies. Grading on a scale between 0 to 4 indicating current skill in deploying and executing digital marketing strategy produces shared insights on preparedness and gaps in knowledge needing to be addressed.

Although the specific maturity terminology used was new to me, the levels identified are clear and easy to apply.

Further research on digital marketing maturity yielded a useful on-line assessment tool which, when completed will lead the provider to supply a competitive report on where you fall relative to competitors. Its available from the Arrk group and can be found here:


Several authors have proposed varying alternate terminologies for this subject, some use more complex judgement criteria for corporate maturity. One visual I tracked down is shown above. Interesting to note here that the author has estimated a percentage of companies falling within each category. Alas I could not identify when this was produced or for which country or region it refers to. I would have liked to attribute this image correctly, but I was unable to track down the copyright owner.

By far the most important observation is the wide variation of application and exploitation of digital marketing across various business types. In my own product area, semiconductors the industry has been largely slow to react. Though there are a few notable exceptions. Fact is that many companies are still on the edges of digital marketing strategy and still have long journeys ahead of them. For me that’s actually very encouraging!

  1. More nuanced and thoughtful participation needed

Inviting current digital marketing practitioners to comment on the various topics as they are raised during the first module was a positive development for on-line education. Other digital marketing MOOCs tend to be rather too theoretical. And the gap between theory and practice is often a large chasm for new practitioners to cross! This approach brings extra value to the learning experience, forcing a deeper, more nuanced appreciation when applying lessons.

Early indications (namely this specific task) suggests a higher bar has been set when it comes to passing the course work for this MOOC compared to others I have experienced. I applaud the organisers for this.

  1. The complex journey towards a sale
digital marketing ZMOT
Google’s ZMOT Customer Journey

Digital marketing is probably the hardest of tasks to get right in today’s noisy, virtual world. Marketers have a multitude of channels to convey their messages at their disposal. But because of all that noise, consumers are harder to reach than ever before. So a welcome trend is that companies are moving away from ‘shouting’ about their products and services. Today we are moving towards a time when consumers are simply encouraged to engage in areas of personal interest.

Modern marketing theory exploits content to ‘hook’ customers. The goal is to gain customer permission to engage. But how is a customer to find you?

The concepts of stimulus and first moment of truth have been in use for over a decade and are recognised in marketing theory (due to Procter and Gamble, 2005). Google’s 2011 introduction of the ‘zero moment of truth’ (ZMOT) was a clever extension to the P&G concept, recognising Google’s dominance in the on-line world – built upon its huge search monopoly. Google essentially requires content creators to focus on search engine optimisation (SEO). Owning important key words and supportive content assets are key to winning at search.

Google produced detailed ZMOT materials which make interesting reading for newbies getting up to speed in digital marketing. These ZMOT assets continue to grow, so it is worth checking back with Google every now and again at:


  1. Digital marketing – an alphabet soup of terms and abbreviations

In the MOOC’s introduction to core concepts, it was interesting to see the rapidly growing vocabulary to describe digital marketing. It’s a complete mash up of terminology and, for many outsiders, this language obscures meaning. Particularly interesting are terms like ‘growth hacking’, ‘viral’ and ‘agile’ marketing. The terminology itself is incisive, but the implementation and sub-processes to get there are all to often shrouded in mystery and poor articulation.

For an extensive list of digital jargon I stumbled across this on-line glossary which includes many new and oddly surprising terms. For example, hands up if you know what is Astroturfing is?

Astroturfing –  the covert and manipulative use of word-of-mouth advertising or viral marketing.

  1. Branding matters

We are all publishers now, if we so choose. After all, that’s what I am doing right now.

In a social world, personal brand is a key factor that individuals need to manage. I say manage rather than control, as it seems to me that brand damage is a persistent threat to social media junkies.

Social interactions and posts leave unalterable ‘footprints in concrete’. Individuals should assume that any post committed to the web, irrespective of channel, is likely to outlive them. There’s already examples of social media storms having direct and unpleasant consequences on targeted individuals.

Always think before you post. Today, there is an obvious argument for making media training available to the masses. Perhaps school children need media training!

I am interested in professional brand strategy and pitfalls to be avoided. One’s on-line profile today acts like a dynamic CV and tools like LinkedIn provide tremendous networking opportunities. A useful article on this subject is this Forbes article.

If you have enjoyed these musings on digital marketing or are simply interested to learn more about my broader views on tech marketing, then check back here soon. Alternatively, follow me for updates. Comments on the subjects covered here are most welcome.

Thanks for reading.

About the author

An electronic engineer by training (at Salford University 1984 to 1988) and a tech marketer by profession, Mark enjoys writing on a variety of topics and has recently started to find his blogging mojo. He’s interested in psychology, leadership and maximising human potential.