CBC Radio’s Under the Influence host Terry O’Reilly will join us as our keynote speaker next month at Canadians Connected. We thought we’d ask him a few questions in advance and give you a taste of what attendees can expect in September.
CBC Radio’s Under the Influence host Terry O’Reilly will join us as our keynote speaker next month at Canadians Connected. Known for his brand and advertising expertise, this award-winning Canadian copywriter, speaker and author will share his thoughts about the social, economic and cultural fabric of Canada and future of Canadian brands. I thought I’d ask him a few questions in advance and give you a taste of what attendees can expect in September.
1. What will you speak about at Canadians Connected?
I will be speaking about two of my favourite marketing topics: how to build a brand and how to use storytelling to accomplish that. A big part of my talk will be about featuring the most unique quality of a business – and its “Canadian-ness” is a vital part of that powerful story.
2. Do you have tips for new businesses when choosing a domain name?
It should be sticky, memorable and unique and it should echo your company name. If your actual company name isn’t available choose something similar – don’t stray too far. Sometimes the addition of a single word to your company name is all that’s required. You should ensure your domain name is not too long because it will be hard to remember and make sure it’s not corny because it’s your brand. Be smart and surprising.
3. What about the Canadian marketing landscape? What are we doing well or what could we be doing better?
Canada lacks bold advertising, and attention is the oxygen of business. Smart, bold advertising gets attention but many Canadian companies prefer to be safe, which makes them invisible. And that’s the most expensive kind of advertising.
That said, the one thing the best Canadian companies do very well is maintaining a consistency in their marketing. Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Roots and WestJet are examples of Canadian companies that have created a unique identity and marketed it well.
WestJet does a good job with traditional TV and radio and their online videos are among the best. In all cases they’ve projected their unique brand. Canadian Tire is a smart retailer. They’ve created a fun spokesperson on television and translated that to interesting online work. As for a small start-up type business, I like the Tool Library, where people can borrow tools instead of buying them. It’s a new idea that could challenge Canadian Tire and Home Depot. Did you know your power drill gets used a total of 18 minutes in its lifetime? Why buy when you can borrow? Using that logic the Tool Library markets itself in smart and fun ways.
4. What are some lessons Canadian retailers can learn from the demise of Sears Canada?
I think Sears fell behind the times. Retail is changing at a rapid pace and businesses have to keep up. More than anything, I think Sears simply became irrelevant in the minds of shoppers. Part of that requires staying current, part is communicating those upgrades to customers and part of that demands smart, creative marketing. All of which Sears didn’t deliver. It’s a classic failure of a legacy brand.
5. What are trends to watch in advertising and marketing in the future and how can marketing students and professionals best prepare?
Nobody can predict the future and the digital world is changing daily, but for impending trends I see more live interactions on the horizon. Not just photos, but live video.
When I asked the founder of Periscope what aspect of his social medium marketers were underutilizing he said he wondered why marketers don’t show more behind-the-scenes video. I agree. Show your customers how you do what you do and talk to them about why you do what you do. It’s like the special features on a DVD or the liner notes on an album. The live interaction is powerful marketing.
As for marketing students, I think they are well prepared and excel in the digital world. I worry though about the actual “marketing” – or in other words, are they being given a good grounding in marketing strategy? It’s one thing to be able to build a website but can you build it based on smart marketing strategy? Creativity is an expression of strategy and that’s where it all begins and ends. As for current marketers, I think embracing digital is imperative. Social media must be tended to daily, not monthly. If you don’t have time, hire one of those hungry students. Make sure somebody is worrying about it.
Join us on September 19th in Ottawa or via webcast to hear Terry speak at Canadians Connected. It’s sure to be an entertaining and informative event!