Masters Series Transcripts: Simon Mathonnet (Head of Digital Strategy at Splashbox) — Building a Powerhouse Brand

Camille Monce —  October 13, 2018 — Leave a comment

Marketing your brand online is not as simple as setting up a profile in cyberspace – it requires strategic social impact activities that highlight your competitive advantages.

Simon Mathonnet says forget about your logo, strapline, and team colours. While those things are important, your brand is how your customers perceive your business.

As head of digital strategy with digital marketers Splashbox, Simon works with hundreds of businesses to build powerhouse brands.

Disclaimer: Transcripts may contain a few typos. Similar sounding words can lead to them being deciphered wrongly and hence transcribed likewise.

Interviewing Public: How do I think is the best way to get my brand out there? It depends on who my client is. So at the moment, a lot of social media, yeah, that’s where they hang out.

Interviewing Public: I think it would be. Initially, it’ll be word of mouth. And then after that, it would just be, I would say social media.

Serpil Senelmis: For WeTeachMe this is the Masters Series where industry professionals share their secrets to success. I’m Serpil Senelmis from Written and Recorded. What’s in a name, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? Shakespeare understood the challenges of building a powerhouse brand years before the internet became the crowded place that it is today. Your brand separates you from all the other roses out there. The challenge is getting consumers to recognize and remember that. Today’s master has an insatiable appetite for SEO and some useful advice to help your brand be heard above the noise.

Simon Mathonnet: A brand is not a product. It’s not about your logo and your story and your slogan. A brand is how people perceive what you do well, what you do not well perceive your values your story, but it’s consumer-generated.

Serpil Senelmis: Simon Mathonnet is head of digital strategy at Splashbox where he helps brands climb the search results ladder. He says it’s great to be innovative. But if your business idea is so new, people won’t be searching for it. So you’ll have to communicate outside of search. His advice, let your brand hang out where your customers hang out.

Simon Mathonnet: Hi, everyone. Before we get started just a little bit about me. I have a master’s degree in digital marketing from Paris and San Francisco. I lived in the US for a bit especially in the startup space. And I worked within startups to help them develop their brand through online marketing. I’ve been working at Splashbox since about 2015. And I’m heading the digital marketing strategy across 100 clients. I’ve been teaching at General Assembly for over two years in SEO, SEM, and data analytics. And I have been speaking a few industry events here. I have absolutely no creative or design credential and backgrounds. And you’re all wondering, why is this guy going to talk to us about branding, right? Well, it’s all because brands not really a logo. A brand is not a product. It’s not about the way it looks. It’s not about your logo and your story and your slogan. It plays a part in what it is but it doesn’t define the brand. The brand is defined by your consumers, by your target. A brand is how people perceive what you do, perceive your business perceive what you you do well, what do you do not well perceive your values your story, but it’s consumer-generated. Now, a few stats that I think are really interesting and actually really, really relevant to branding your business, especially online. Well, 81% of consumers they search online before making a purchase. So building your brand online is extremely important if you want to reach the majority of your audience. Not only that, but they probably is an average of free websites. And most of them look for online reviews. And now you start to see how people perceive your brand, how people perceive your business, how people perceive your online presence, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. And there’s really two aspects of it. Yes, there’s the creative aspect of it. There’s the way your logo looks, your color scheme, your slogan, your story, but is also a very, very strategic aspect to branding and building a brand online. If you want people to perceive what you want to convey in terms of messaging, brand, values, etc. The issue is that usually strategy and creativity are separated within a business. So it’s very hard to have a consistent and integrated approach across strategy and creativity. So the way I look at it is very different. The way I look at branding, usually when we are approached by prospects when a client comes on board and say, I want to develop my brand online, the way we look at it is through three different layers. And the first one is your creative assets is your name, your logo and your colors. Those all play a part into how people perceive your brand because that’s what they see. However, I am not getting to tell you that your logo should be yellow, red, blue or green, that you should keep your slogan to free phrases, two phrases have tagline, straplines, etc. because it’s so business and user-dependent. All you have to do is just think about the different layers. It’s all about the mindsets. It’s about the logic. It’s about the rationale that’s behind it. It’s not about following specific guidelines. It’s more about the methodology. So the three layers of online branding that you look at the first one is named logo and colors, creative assets, basic creative assets. The second one is the vision, the story, the values, the characteristics of your product, or the services that you’re selling, that you’re promoting, that you’re pushing. It’s basically the meat of your business. And the third layer is the strategic layer. So it’s the channels to creative the targeting. So layer number one is extremely creative. Layer number two, it’s creative, and strategic, how do I differentiate my product and my service? But also, what’s my story, what’s my vision? And the third layer is extremely strategic. It’s all about the approach. So it’s all about leveraging your brand assets, number one, through the right channels. Number three, by conveying the right value and the right message to the right people. So it’s really that integrated approach from creative assets to targeting messaging and channels.

Simon Mathonnet: Now let’s talk about a branding campaign, right? So let’s say that you want to build your brand online, right? So the first thing you’ve got to do is pick your channels. Where are you going to push your brands based on your audience behavior? Now, some audience they’re really social media savvy, for instance. Some people would use Google some people would use Bing, what do they do online? Where do they hang out? Where do they chat? Where do they engage? Where do they engage with brands? All the questions that you need to ask yourself, then once you figure that out, is your audience on Instagram on Pinterest? What kind of message I’m going to deliver to this audience? And basically, you’re gonna base this messaging around the stage of your user journey. Is it the first time they get into contact with your brand? Is that the first time they see it? Or is it the second time or third time? Are they ready to buy? Or are they really early stage where they haven’t even considered your solution? You need to consider that in your messaging. The channels’ capabilities, of course, there are some channels who are really visual heavy like social media, you’re going to have to craft your messaging around imagery, creatives, design banners and stuff like that. If you find that your audience, for instance, is searching a lot of on Google’s in very specific terms. And you want to advertise on Google and do an AdWords campaign, all you’re going to have is text. So consider that in the way that you craft your messaging. And of course, your tone of voice and values. And the third element is, this is all great. But if you don’t measure the efficiency of what you do, it may all be for nothing. And this is extremely important. This is something that is usually not considered when thinking about building your brand, building your exposure, building your business online is how do you really measure what you’re doing. So you can find opportunities to improve. And you can also find areas that are not performing as well. So you can cut spend or just stop wasting your time on areas that won’t work. So measures in place to measure the efforts and the efficiency of the efforts that you’re doing is really, really important. Alright, let’s start with the first element of a branding campaign, which is how do you pick your channel? Right? Well, the first thing you can look at if you have an existing website, and if you have existing an existing audience that comes to your website, you can use really cool free tools like Google Analytics, to basically determine what are the channels that currently work really well for you and where you can build on that, right. So the number of sales is going to be an indication of how qualified my audiences and I’m going to look at what channels people that bought when free so here social media with 6500 people is a really, really important channel. It’s also bringing a significant amount of revenue. Alright, social is a platform where my audience is engaged and is willing to go to my website is engaging with my brand. How do I get more of that social this gives you an indication of the channel that you need to focus on. Organic search is organic search on Google, right? People search a lot online. Maybe I should do some kind of like optimize my website. I should teach myself a few SEO principles. paid search is AdWords display or banners here I have all the data. If you have existing users, you have already some data that you can leverage in order to pick your channels. I don’t think that you can look at is you’ve got plenty of really, really cool marketing studies online on to what kind of demographics use what kind of different channels online, for instance, no one in this room probably uses Bing, right? I’m guessing but it is actually a very, very good channel. If you are targeting people that are older, they say older than 35. I would say older than 60, older than 65. You can target that demographic for being because it usually an audience that’s not really tech-savvy, they buy a computer, they open Internet Explorer, and Bing is here and they type in Bing, right? So think about that kind of channel. What do they do? What do they use? Where has Google is more tech-savvy, younger demographic, etc. But one other thing to consider when thinking about search engines and how you can leverage search engines is.

Simon Mathonnet: If you, as a startup have a really, really innovative idea that you really, really want to push into, but that no one really knows about, it’s really unlikely that someone’s directly looking for in online. So I’ve picked a few, a few products off of product hunt, for instance, like a messenger bots, that converts files, right, this seems like a really, really good idea, but no one searches for that in the internet. So you can’t use search engine to really push your product is just no one’s searching for it. So you get a turn to our channels. So it’s all about looking at what data is available in your field, what’s working, what could potentially work and what’s not. That way you have a right plan from the start and you don’t waste your efforts, just doing something that’s not going to get a result straight away. Social is extremely important, but just the social platform that your audience uses is extremely important. So for instance, millennials, Instagram and Snapchat are really, really popular. So if you’re targeting a millennial audience, then you need to look at that over even just over Facebook now. Whereas Facebook, if you’re targeting Gen X and baby boomers is a great social media platform. And just by starting to think about where you audience actually hangs out, you can start having a plan to build your brand online. For instance, someone could initially find you through a search and then hang out on social come across one of your good posts, and then decide to convert, maybe that’s the behavior that works in your field in your market with your target audience. But it’s always different. That’s why you need to collect a lot of data like this. I strongly encourage you, if you have a website and online presence, please set up Google Analytics. It’s a fantastic tool, you get plenty of data like this that you can use to build your brand. Let’s talk about messaging and branding. messaging through online marketing is extremely important. I see a lot of businesses engaging in online activity online advertising, and just pushing their product, pushing their price, pushing their discounts, pushing their offers, but it’s not really about that you want brand recognition. Remember, brand is about how consumers perceive your brand. And you need to influence that perception. And you can influence that perception through more channels that you may think at the beginning. For instance, the way your website appears on Google and Bing is an amazing way to actually shape that brand perception. So if you google the iconic, this is what you see on Google, right? You see clothes online shows online the iconic. What they do here is yes, they have keywords and they optimized so that they rank better for shoes online and clothes online, but it’s also associating the products and the things that they sell to their brand. Someone is going to see consciously or subconsciously the iconics next to shoes, the iconics next to clothes right, it’s starting to build my perception of the brand if I didn’t know what the iconic does, I would think the iconic they’ll say shoes and clothes online. This is my brand perception of the iconic so you can already start shaping it with that kind of like page titles on your website, which you can edit through WordPress etc is very important for instance. You’ll also get additional space, Google gives you the ability to add a description to your page so that it can display this description on search engine. You can write in that description, your values, your story, your product vision, your USP’s. This also affects how people perceive your brand, because they will read that. And you’ve got a, if you google the iconic, what you see is you see that they have a lot of cell pages. So what I’m thinking my brand perception is the iconic is often on sale. So they do discount prices. It affects the way that I perceived the brand if I base it off this for instance, so you can use that as a tool. Now talking about social media, and talking about social media, different point of view user journey. So let’s say that I have noticed that my target audience hangs out on Facebook a lot.

Simon Mathonnet: So what I’m going to do is I am going to pay some Facebook ads to push my brand and push my products. Let’s say that I’m targeting an audience who’s never heard about me. I’m not going to say book today and get 10% off it makes no sense. They don’t even know what I do. What I’m going to do is I’m going to say well, my brand they offer eco-friendly cleaning, with 100% happiness guarantee, etc. I know straight away what the brand is, what they do and what their values are. Those guys are eco friendly. They are hustling company I know straightaway what they do, I know straightaway what they stand for. Not only that, but the call to action is way softer. Learn more is way softer and then get offer, get offer it’s really “salesy”. If I haven’t heard about those guys before, probably not going to click it. Get an offer is really good when the audience is already familiar with you. So what you can do is you can do fancy retargeting or remarketing from people who’ve already been to the websites, and you can target them with an ad like this and they’ll remember you because they’ve been on your website, you don’t need to repeat what you do, unless you think that they haven’t converted to your website in the first place, because they haven’t really understood what you stand for. So always think about the user journey, and what should you tell them at each point in time, which is really, really, really different. The third element is measuring and optimizing. So this is all great, right? But how do you do all this? First of all, how do you know what to do? And second of all, how do you know if it works or not? It’s very, very important, so many different businesses and brands, who just dump money into Facebook ads into Instagram ads into Instagram content, Facebook content, they have no way of actually measuring if it works or not, their only indicator is by business doing okay. Well, I guess I’ll just keep spending that happens a lot. The problem with that kind of approach is that you can’t really build on what you’re doing and the money you’re investing and the time that you spend, you’re not really getting maximum value from it. So if you actually have measures around it, first of all, you can limit your risk of investing time or resources into an area that has high chances of failing. Furthermore, anything that you do in work, you have really, really strong ideas about what to do next, in order to get even better value for your brand. So the first thing you got to do is create an hypothesis about your branding, right? And it could be all my assets compelling enough, is my targeting tree too narrow, to wide? Should I focus on top of funnel bottom of funnel activity? Could be as simple as should I advertise on Facebook or not? Should I invest any kind of money in SEO or not? Should I do some AdWords or not? What should I use? Should I write content or not? And then design a test and set up metrics to measure your processes. So for instance, if I’m wondering If I should write blog content or not for my website, right, I’m going to design a test. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to write five articles and I’m going to post them, right? I’m going to post them. And I’m going to measure what kind of traction they get, what kind of visits now have my metrics, number of visits to those blogs? And I’m going to see if just writing is enough, and then I’m going to iterate on that. All right, it didn’t work. What do I do next? Maybe my hypothesis is maybe I didn’t advertise my blogs enough in my content. And all those hypotheses come from your initial research, your persona, your research about what the market is doing your research about your demographics, right? The better you research Initially, the more likely you are to come up with a hypothesis that’s going to be successful. And iterate and optimize. So you’ve got plenty of free and paid analytic software that you can plug onto your website in order to measure any kind of metric that you want any kind of data point that you want to get, you can get through Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Google AdWords Segment, Hotjar. I love Hotjar. Just a disclaimer, I’m not paid by Hotjar in any way, shape, or form, but I just love the software so much it is unbelievable. What hotjar allows you to do is up on your website, you have heat maps, so if you use crazy eggs before like it tells you why people clicked, which is great, but it’s not the best feature. The best feature is it records a sample of sessions of users, right? So if you play those sessions, you will see their little mouse going around and clicking on things and moving around, etc. If you have a website, I am telling you you’re probably on your website. Every day, almost, you know it’s back to front. You know how to navigate it. You know where to click if you want to get a specific piece of information, but most people do not. They have no idea having seeing it through the eyes of someone who just lands on the website, you learn just so much. And then you also get really pissed because you think, why would they click on this? Why would they click on that? Come on, man, just click on the contact button, give me a call. It’s extremely interesting. It gives you a lot of insights into what people care about where they get confused. And also you can use that with the way that you push your branding because you can see them lingering on certain words, on certain paragraphs, you can see what they read why they care about, do they go straightaway to the pricing page? Or do they read about you first, like those kinds of things is super, super, super important? I think it’s free or really cheap so give it a try. It is fantastic. Also, this is very theoretical. But it’s a great way to approach measuring and optimizing. So it’s called the lean analytics circle and it’s basic those three steps, but a bit more developed. And if you’re interested in that kind of stuff in data analytics in how to really optimize your website, I strongly encourage I think it’s a book called lean analytics, which is brilliant. Also the whole methodology around how to actually find meaningful test meaningful KPIs, to prove the hypothesis, and especially when it comes to branding is super cool. And that’s one of the forgotten aspects of branding campaigns. Because usually, again, creative and strategic, or completely separate in segment in business, and I am an extremely strategic person in case you didn’t see. So what I do is I each step up the process, I get input from creative people, and I give them insight into strategic direction as well. And having that collaboration between creativity and strategy is invaluable to build the brand. You can use all that to get buy-in from your stakeholders. You can get buy-in from the people that are working with you. You can get buy-in from your investors, you can get buy-in from your board. If you start involving them in your branding activities, ask them questions and say, hey, I’m really looking for some feedback in order to grow the brand. What are your clients’ challenges like if your sales reps are going around asking people a question, just ask them about what’s the most frequently asked question, and then maybe that gives you an idea for a content piece. Maybe that gives you an idea of what your brand is not conveying online and what people are unsure of gives you plenty of insights, supply them with branding assets, like give them I don’t know, USB keys, little fancy stuff like that stuff is actually really, really good to get that brand awareness. And you want to make people proud of what they’re involved in and I felt like branding assets really good way to do so and given And branding projects, of course, like helping you with that whole thing. depending if they’re more of a strategic person or a creative person, you can get them involved at any step of your branding campaign. And they should be like people think about the sales funnel, right? From awareness to loyalty and advocacy. But your first advocates should be the people that are working with you on your brand. That’s why it’s so important.

Serpil Senelmis: So your brand is not your logo, it’s how customers perceive your business. Thanks, Simon. That makes a lot of sense. And I can see how that fades into the way brands talk through content and communications. And there were some great tips for building a powerhouse brand. I’ll let you know what’s coming up next time right after this.

Ad Guy: The Masters Series is WeTeachMe’s vision of the future of learning, one that seem inspired and impassioned run by the people for the people. WeTeachMe is Australia’s biggest school, where you can learn what makes your heartbeat. Bringing teachers and learners together, WeTeachMe helps you find classes near you. Start your quest at This podcast was prepared for your ears by Written and Recorded a content creation agency. Creating successful content relies on the ability to craft a persuasive story. From blogs to podcasts, social media to feature articles, Written and Recorded can help you get your story out there. Engage your content, add

Serpil Senelmis: Next time we’ll get all the latest developments in AI from machine learning to conversational digital interfaces, somebody better bring in a robot that’s all I’m saying. Until then, I’m Serpil Senelmis from Written and Recorded and for WeTeachMe this is the Masters Series.

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