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Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on Percolate

Here at Olapic, we are incredibly proud of our partner ecosystem — we designed it with innovation and strategy in mind in order to drive value for our clients across their entire marketing stack. Through these partnerships, we are able to facilitate the activation and analysis of brands’ visual earned content within the marketing channels such as including email, ads, mobile apps, and more.

Each of our partners has a unique perspective on the digital marketing industry, so we thought what better way to share this knowledge than through a new blog series! Welcome to Better Together, a partner spotlight where we interview key players at our partner organizations to share their perspectives and thoughts on the industry.

Partner Company Name: Percolate
Author Name: Mihika Barua
Author Title: Marketing Associate


What does authentic marketing mean to you?

If you can find a way to get your customers to tell your story, you’re winning the authenticity game. It can be tough to get customers to talk about your product, but if you can do it in an innovative way by spotlighting your customers and having them tell a story, you will be successful.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a marketer today?

It’s really important, but equally challenging, to stay ahead of the newest channel or media format, and include that in your content mix. We’ve recognized that we have to prioritize the channels most relevant to our audience (marketers) but it’s important to continue testing new formats. We recently tried live video streaming for our conference, Transition, and came out with a lot of learnings that we’ll be applying to our content strategy moving forward.

In that same vein, what are the most common challenges you hear from your customers?

Marketers are facing increasingly more complexity as new channels emerge and they’re tasked with engaging audiences on a multitude of platforms. Previously, it was easier to just repurpose content you created for your blog to another content channel, but with Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Live, it’s just not possible anymore. Your audience also adopts a different “personality” for each channel: I know that personally, my voice on Twitter (and the things I click on) is different from the brand Stories I read on Snapchat. You need to be thinking in the vernacular of those channels —and their audiences — if you want to succeed there.

It seems as though a new tool or company claiming to disrupt the market arises daily. How do you differentiate the wheat from the chaff? What are some companies or platforms that you have your eye on?

As a marketer the criteria for me is: Can I complete an entire workflow, from start to finish, in this platform? If I have to break out of the platform and conduct some steps outside of it, or in other tools, it immediately becomes dispensable. The analogy I can think of is how you can plan a dinner with your friends without leaving Google Maps – you can find a restaurant, read reviews, book a table, and order an Uber or Lyft to the place, all without leaving the app.

Thinking of an example, I’d say Slack has dramatically changed the way we communicate at work. It’s intuitive and easy to collaborate, without the noisy back-and-forth of emails

The lines between creative and technology are continuing to blur; what are your thoughts on the interplay between the two?

If you want to be creative at scale, harnessing technology is key. That’s sort of the founding insight of Percolate’s software: Can creativity be systematized? Marketers today have to grapple with chaos in terms of channels and the demand for content across channels. But if you use technology to build a system for creating content at scale, repurposing it for different channels, and getting your team aligned on that, you can beat that chaos.

More and more, we’ve been reading about the “content commerce” model. But the skillset to produce engaging, authentic content is quite different from what’s required for commerce success. What are your thoughts on this?

Content isn’t transactional; I think the “commerce” part comes in after the content has been established as being good enough that people might be willing to pay for it. People who can produce great content are not necessarily the same as those who can monetize that content. I think the most successful brands are those that find ways to engage audiences with content without asking anything from them; like Marriott has done with original film and Snapchat takeovers. You need to establish authority in the space before you can create commerce out of it.

How can brands tell cohesive stories across all of the channels where their consumers live?

Define your brand’s voice, and stay consistent to it across your channels. At Percolate we strive for a voice that is authoritative and bold, but human at the same time. You need to enforce that in your advertising, in your blog content, your e-books, and your social copy. To make the story cohesive, try identifying a narrative arc — what’s the problem or challenge your audience faces, and how do you solve for it? Set up expectations in your audience by telling the same stories over again, but in different formats.

With marketers on the line for larger shares of ROI, how do you advise your customers on ways to maximize their marketing strategies?

First, re-assess how much you’re putting toward creating content — what we call “non-working” spend. To create the first study of marketing creation costs, we surveyed over 300 enterprise CMOs, VPs, and Marketing Directors in the U.S. about their non-working expenses: the amount spent on production, rather than distribution, of advertising. Not only do content creation costs take up 40% of advertising budgets — but they’re also expected to grow this year, driven by process inefficiencies. Those who have their non-working costs under control say they’re investing in redesigning workflows, training their staff, and using technology to keep content creation costs down.

With such a focus on data and analytics (ROI), how can brands leave room for true creativity in their marketing efforts?

Keep your teams constantly stimulated and challenge them to think about things beyond the scope of their day-to-day responsibilities. We have regular marketing offsites where our team goes into a day-long “huddle”: open feedback sessions on things we did the previous quarter, creative workshops to spend time ideating on projects and getting diverse voices involved in solving big problems. That serves as a springboard for our marketing initiatives coming out of it.

Name one bold prediction to you have for marketing and brands in the next few years?

Brands are becoming more experiential, making the customers’ experience of a brand more of a continuous experience rather than a one-time transaction. You don’t just buy a single Uber or Lyft ride or a Spotify song, you continue to experience these brands — the services they provide are more crucial to their consumers’ satisfaction than their actual product. On-demand services are building the brands of the future, without the need for a tangible product. It’s more about the transformation that the brand provides and the way that becomes a second-nature part of consumers’ lives. Because of that I think customer experience is going to be what makes or breaks a brand.

A big thanks for Mihika for participating in our second interview for our Better Together series. Learn more about her below!

BIO: Mihika leads content and social media at Percolate. She led Percolate’s first customer storytelling initiative, Made With Percolate, a collection of campaign stories from iconic brands. Originally from Mumbai, Mihika graduated from Columbia University with a degree in political science. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.