grown ups NZ, logo for grownups

GrownUps NZ, Richard Poole interview

Richard Poole founded the website GrownUps.co.nz and has built it up into a significant media propertygrown ups NZ, logo for grownupsfocused on the over 50s market.   What we found impressive is the ease with which the site has incorporated native advertising with traditional media as revenue streams. 

He kindly agreed to be interviewed by the Creative Agency Secrets team.

  1. What is your latest work?

    I’m continuing to work with GrownUps, although the business is now owned by Cigna Insurance, having sold to them earlier in 2016. It’s been an interesting experience moving from being a small business to working with one of the world’s largest corporates, which I’m learning from. It’s been particular useful to have more governance and rigour around process and also risk. Also, being able to work with an innovative marketer and CEO from Cigna in NZ, has been very rewarding.

    Since selling the business and taking away some of those stresses that do come with business ownership at times, we’re very proud to have doubled the revenue and also site traffic YOY plus grown membership 30%. It’s genuinely a real honour that each month we get to interact with over 160,000 visitors to the site and each week, speak with around half of our 120,000 members, via their weekly email newsletter. What’s really satisfying is that we have not wavered from our original vision from 2006 when we went live with GrownUps, whereby we seek to make every day better for any visitor to the site, whether by reading an interesting article out of the 8,000 that we now have, meeting an interesting fellow GrownUps members, playing a game on the site or maybe even being inspired to book that overseas trip that they deserve and have read about on the site.

  2. What’s impressed you?

    Having never worked in a corporate, it’s been great to see that very large corporates can work well with small businesses that they take under their wing – I think you each learn really. We’ve been fortunate having pragmatic leadership, clear guidelines and an understanding that we’re best to keep the essence of the small business feeling for customers/visitors. It actually can work very well.

  3. What’s the next big thing?

    There is no doubt that my mind seldom stops for a break in terms of thinking about meeting people’s needs, which is sometimes a challenge to be honest. At present I’m committed to GrownUps so we’ll just see where that goes over the next while. I’d love to see our ‘baby’ achieve everything that we’d imagined and hope to play some part in that, if that’s wanted.

    However, I’m 44 and there are several things that I’m keen to achieve personally and for our family by the time I’m 50. Priorities in life definitely change and so I guess we’re always all weighing up how best to live our lives and what makes us happy.

 

Cluetrain Original

Cluetrain has New Clues – time for newbies to read the original!

I listened to the FIR podcast #790 and found that Cluetrain has been updated!

Cluetrain Original

Cluetrain Original

New Clues published in January and numbers 52-67 apply to our marketing communications world in particular. [see below]
Oh, and also pay attention to number 100
You want to know what to buy? The business that makes an object of desire is now the worst source of information about it. The best source is all of us.
It will be hard to adhere to them – because marketers are busy fouling their own nest, much as we did with banner adverts, SEO and oh-so-many other internet tools which we over-exploited so the makers ended up changing the rules to exclude our actions.
Seems to me ever more of a message about the quality of content, ease of discovery and honesty of presentation.

Your marketing strategy for 2015

If your marketing strategy for this year even remotely resembles what you did for the past 5 years tear it up.  Forget it.  The businesses who will thrive understand Cluetrain, they present their wares at least in part in a Cluetrain-format and will reap the $$ rewards accordingly.
Just call us if you think you want to change and don’t know how.

Rant over.

Now, what do you think?
I’m going to get my whole team to read Cluetrain original next week as their homework!

New Clues for Marketers

The New Clues that directly relate to the practice of marketing. Numbered from the original. Read more

Native Advertising – all you need to learn June 19, 2014

Bloggers Club NZ website

Interview with Jenene Crossan, NZ Girl

Jenene has an enviable track record as an internet entrepreneur.

Bloggers Club NZ website

Bloggers Club NZ website

What made you pick the internet

The first part was to be young enough – when I first went into this space I was a teen, it was a natural part of where things were going.  For years I’ve used the descriptor if you’re on the ski field and you see kids fly past at 100km an hour and you’re just trying to stay upright.

When you’re young enough you don’t worry about falling over and that applies to business too.

I have a natural gut instinct around consumers, and I’m passionately curious about this space.  I spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Tell us about NZ Girl

We launched in 1999 there was nothing else in that space – there were corporates dallying with the idea of corporate websites, Google was in its first year and social media hadn’t happened.  We were taking advertising orders by fax.  That meant we got to see the full evolution of everything.  We led the pack to say where it was going – we didn’t know better we just gave it a go.

We found an audience who were interested in the space naturally, alongside that the business attracted people who needed to speak to that audience and used us as their guide to use the internet to talk to them.

I developed other businesses to do research, strategy and guidance too off the back of that.

We started as an online magazine and it’s now a social mag with the content written by the audience, curated by us and it’s now a bloggers club.  We manage 400 bloggers and offer content marketing services through that.

What do you think about Native advertising?

It’s been an interesting evolution – the digital advertising world is in a worse state now that 5 years ago and I credit that to the agencies getting involved.  We had direct relations with the clients and created cool platforms.  The agencies commoditised it and it became very CPM driven and more recently CPC driven and that bastardised the whole offering and the whole platform.  It’s hard for publishers to give advertisers the environment to get relationships with consumers when they’re trying to rely on click throughs immediately at a certain $ value.

We said it’s madness to use CPM as a measure of success for a campaign and we have always been about integration and it hasn’t been embraced by agencies because it’s too hard for them to do.

Integration must be creatively led – e.g. J&J have new skincare product – they tell us who its aimed at and we do research into the audience and what they think about it, we recommend angles, and we come up with the creative concepts of ways to talk about it which might be editorial, blogger content, advertorial, competitions, sampling, ways to purchase.  All sorts of things.  For Gilette we chucked 2 tonnes of sand and put on a beach volleyball contest… it’s a 360 experiential view.

it’s mostly technically led and on the site.  We have done apps, games, treasure hunts.

What’s the future for online advertising and agencies?

The recession didn’t help but if you look at the very large agencies – their model is being able to provide a better price than everyone else- they have to cut deals and so they cut out people and will only work with a certain number of suppliers or publishers.  They are metric-driven and pit people against each other.

We were being missed out on schedules for brands we’ve worked with for a decade and it was because our CPM wasn’t low enough.  We lost out to sites with no integration or technology.  This was madness.  So we said “stuff it”.  We no longer charge for display advertising – we are not prepared to be measured by a CPM metric.

If you do content marketing with us, integrated campaigns with us and we give the display advertising for free.

We do still deal with agencies, Rochelle has had to turn round and tell them that that’s not how we work.  We refuse to be measured in this way and here are our arguments and we get left off the schedule because of this.  We need to get brands to the other side of this – to get measures – that’s not how consumers buy they build relationships and want recommendations.

The female consumer is driven by what others tell her about how to get things and where to find them.  It doesn’t work in a metric driven way.  They are such magpies – so excited about the next big thing e.g. Facebook – they invested in it because it’s free, organic reach is stuffed and now they have to pay for sponsored and promoted posts.  This even more supports the theory that you need others talking about your brand.

How can brands take advantage of this?

To be successful in this landscape, you need to introduce people naturally to your brand and they can easily talk about it if they want to do so.  The model in bloggers club is subscription driven – brands pay us to work out how to create conversation – bloggers are paid by us but it’s not specifically by the brand.  This is the Church and State separation that’s required.

We get a variety of bloggers – nutrition and fitness, parenting and all sorts of stuff, art and drawing, sketch bloggers too.  It’s really cool. UGC was never going to go away – it gives folks a reason to continuously get involved and social allows them to spread the voice.

Commericalising it gives problems to some people – great content but no ida of audience development.  And others who can’t make their content look professional enough to make it marketable. We have a template-driven format that they can use.  So clients see what’s being written about them and they can then take it and share across their networks.  This allows the individual to have a voice – this is never going to go away now that we’ve found our voices.

The Economist Native Advertising with GE

The Economist digital adverts on their app has an interesting native advertising content link sponsored by GE – it’s all about clean energy. A web page clearly with the Economist website layout and with their header – but independently closable (the X in the top left corner). All driven off a full page advert in their current edition 25th May 2013.

GE Advert in Economist app

GE Advert in Economist app

GE Future Energy native advertising page
GE Future Energy native advertising page

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