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With the latest instalment in our NetworkB series done and dusted, Brandwave Founder, Dan Macaulay looks back on our first fully digital iteration and the key take-outs from the event…

‘Change, adapt, evolve’ – that has been our mantra since the effects of Coronavirus first began to adversely affect our industry. When the world is changing fast, you must pivot your business fast. Or to quote our ever-inspirational Key Accounts Director, Ollie Robinson “The key to success is to be more speedboat than oil tanker” and it was during our first Coronavirus pivot meeting that the concept of a fully digital NetworkB event was conceived.

I welcomed this opportunity with open arms. While I love presenting and live at conferences and events, there are always restrictions in terms of geography and diversity of attendees. The idea of bringing all of our global friends and clients from every sport industry together is what digital events are all about.

The theme of our first digital NetworkB was ‘No Rules Marketing – The Game Changers Playbook’. Essentially how the most innovative brands in the world are using minimum investment to gain maximum return in their marketing. It’s a theme that I’ve had a lot of fun presenting on recently but this time, I was lucky enough to be joined by one of the star players that I regularly case study – Tom Reding, Director of Digital Engagement and eCommerce at BrewDog.

With over 100 marketing managers in attendance from F1 to football, the pressure was on to deliver some fresh content that challenged the conventional marketing theory and inspired all attendees to look at their own marketing strategy in new ways. Here are a few of my key take-outs:

Who are the game changers?

The game changers are some of the world’s most innovative brands that have literally redefined the word marketing as we know it. They spend a fraction of what their competitors spend on marketing and yet, they experience massive increases in sales and exponential growth. In all situations across all channels, they do the opposite of what traditional marketing theory dictates. In the current situation that we’re all facing, there has never been a more relevant time to look at these brands to see what we can all learn.

You can’t read the label from inside the jar

The sports industry is notoriously insular. Most of us who are in it grew up in it and will never leave. As a result, there is not a lot of diversity in terms of marketing strategy, creative or channels. To find best in class, we must look not towards our competitors but outside of our industry to other industries who are truly best in class.

Growth hacking

Game changers aim to acquire as much of a new audience as possible while spending as little as possible. These brands often have a tiny percentage of their competitors’ budgets and brand equity and yet, get thousands more ROI, reach, and engagement on their marketing activities. The typical growth hacker often focusses on finding smarter, low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing. This could be using social media, viral marketing and even technical ‘hack’ or coding methods to grow audiences.

Advertising for PR

Traditional advertising spreads budget over different channels – out of home, print, and digital. The budget is then spread over the season or the year. The key word here is ‘spread’. You get lots of breath but very little depth and traction. Game changers do the exact opposite to the conventional. These brands pool all their smaller budget into one space. The space that is the most high-profile. Adverts will often run only once but will cause headlines and get audiences talking about them online – therefore essentially creating ‘free PR’ for the brand.

Proactive/ reactive

Game changers don’t work from a marketing plan. They flip traditional PR on its head instead of trying to create a story about their brand. They seek out what’s already a story and piggy-back on the interest in that. What is the hottest story this week – current affairs, celebrity, politics, religion. What is the public, search engines, and media all talking about? They adapt their brand’s creative to reflect it.

Speed is your friend

Game changers such as BrewDog move fast. They are willing to take risks and they are not concerned about upsetting the status quo. They actively attract controversy and they want to be different. They can turn products and marketing around in a day to reflect changes in their external environment.

Final thoughts

I’d like to thank my team at Brandwave and everyone who attended our first fully digital NetworkB. This event represented our own attempt to pivot fast, going from conception to event delivery in less than a week. We were overwhelmed both by the quality and quantity of attendees and the positive feedback that we received after our event.

There will be more news on additional digital NetworkB events coming up very soon…sign up to our newsletter below to be the first to hear about them.

Daniel Macaulay