Always-on Digital Marketing: 7 Things We've Learned by Zeus Jones
2640 Lyndale Ave S.
Minneapolis Minnesota 55408
Always-on Digital Marketing:
7 Things We’ve Learned
We left the traditional advertising business because
we had a belief about brands: they’re built on what
they do, not what they say.
We built Zeus Jones around this belief.
We combined strategy, design, creativity and digital expertise and set out to modernize marketing.
was driven by
And almost all roles, processes
and timelines - at both agencies
and clients - we’re designed
around annual advertising
By this time digital had already turned mass
communications models upside down.
1. Mass media became fragmented/niche media
2. Communication became two-way
3. Search enabled people to learn anything they wanted to know about a brand
The frameworks we used
didn’t help us find new and
interesting ways to engage
with people, and we often
ran out of things to say.
Digital isn’t a channel, it’s a way of thinking.
We stopped dividing our marketing by traditional/digital and instead started talking about it in terms of campaigns and always-on.
Campaigns Always On
“Push” marketing is focused on delivering our messages
as broadly as possible to as many people as possible. The
centerpiece of campaigns is usually advertising.
“Pull” marketing is focused on pulling together all
the people who want to know more about our brand
or participate with us in some way. The centerpiece
of Always On is usually content.
Zeus Jones Proprietary and Confidential. All rights reserved 2012.
Built around messages.
Divide people into buckets to efficiently target them.
Operate on our schedule.
Control what is being said.
About being interruptive.
Exist in as many places as possible.
Built around purpose.
Unite people around love/interest in the brand.
Operate “on demand”.
Curating/Responding to what people are saying.
About being useful and engaging, creating value.
Create a hub for everything we do.
We’ve worked very closely with some very forward-thinking brands.
This is as much their journey as it is ours.
7 Things We’ve Learned.
Along with some examples of how we’ve used these principles.
1. Start with purpose, not messaging.
Having a purpose beyond just delivering a functional benefit is critical for modern brands.
Campaigns are built around saying one thing and saying it as cleverly and loudly as possible
– which doesn’t work when consumers are interacting with you every day.
The higher the purpose, the more ways to interact with culture.
A good purpose should inspire lots and lots of ideas for how the brand goes to market.
“Support dogs and their owners on their
personal journey toward Greatness.”
“Bring awesome things together to make
“Fuel the champion inside.”
We focus our content and creative into “pursuits.”
Categories of actions taken by the brand.
Fueling Champions with Nutrition Inspiring ChampionsChallenging Champions
2. Unite people, don’t divide them.
Traditional targeting/media planning is about finding the largest
audiences - often based on broad demographics. Always-on requires
finding an audience with true passion for what the brand is about and
bringing them together in one place.
Despite their many
differences, one thing cat
owners were all very
interested in is
understanding their pet’s
and sharing it.
In the form of a
documentary series that
follows an urban kitten
and an African Wildcat to
explain cat behaviors.
This helped us build a
community of curious cat
has helped us
sustain it for
over a year.
They provide content,
questions, discussion topics
and of course adorable cat
photos. All of which give the
brand fresh ways to use its
3. Operate “on-demand”
What were yearly planning cycles are now two-week planning cycles. But sometimes the best
opportunities present themselves in between planning meetings. We’ve learned that having
a small, empowered team that can create and respond quickly can have huge benefits.
we had a three-
And we were planning and
creating small pieces of
content almost every day.
During one of
Sam Gordon’s highlight reel
was going viral that day, and
within hours hatched a plot
to create a custom Wheaties
box for Sam Gordon and send
it to her.
Because of Sam’s instant celebrity, there was huge media interest.
And within days we’d produced the box and it was given to her on Good Morning America.
4. Know where you want to go,
but let the people lead you there.
In the beginning we used to use social media to “test” ideas - meaning try out lots of
little things and see what grabs people. But we later discovered that you need a strong
sense of your overall goal, then you need to let your community lead you there.
“Bring awesome things
together to make them
We knew we wanted to the brand to play in internet culture,
where new mash-ups and memes are happening every day.
We had what we thought was an AWESOME idea: let’s be an
expert on internet memes. Turns out, our biggest fans just
wanted us to be ourselves. And when we followed their lead,
they took us into places most brands can’t go - like Tumblr
5. Make stuff that’s useful and engaging.
A brand succeeds when people agree with it’s worldview. But some
views are harder to change than others. That’s when it becomes
necessary to prove your belief rather than just evangelize it.
7th Consecutive Year
93/100 Top Show Dogs
are Pro Plan-Fed
Pro Plan-Fed Champion
Pro Plan’s heritage is in show dogs.
But, it turns out lots of other amazing dogs eat it too.
It’s hard to simply convince people their dog is capable of such feats.
But Purina trainers were proving it with their own dogs.
We made their
And created an app “P5”
that helps them find out
what their dog can really do.
6. Forge great partnerships
for creative and content.
As you’ve seen, always-on means creating lots of things all the time - not just one or two big things a year. A
traditional agency creative team on it’s own could never keep up. More and more we’re seeing the creative role
evolve to be more about curation, inspiration and partnership with other creative people.
We engaged some top poster artists to create this series that celebrates Purina ONE’s sponsorship of Pitchfork.
We work with tons of illustrators on content for brands like Cheerios.
Bloggers / Writers
We challenged two hipster bloggers to run the Tough Mudder and write about it.
90,000 Tumblr Followers 20,000 Twitter Followers
We worked with Theron Humphrey on 2 projects for Purina
We worked Michael Tyburski and Ben Nabors to create a series of documentaries about modern familes for Bettty Crocker.
We give these partners a ton of creative freedom.
Unlike a traditional agency / production partner relationship, we typically give partners a
very broad brief and let them run with it.
7. Create a digital ecosystem that
supports this way of working.
We found we needed to create a single “hub” for publishing and social activity, then
have a process for both content creation and content distribution.
This ecosystem model helps us activate against all the other points I’ve discussed.
Content Creation Content Distribution
Keeping an eye on
blogs, artists, other
Create our own.
Owned and Earned
We start here first.
Create a media and
Scaling / Paid
Invest behind the
Cheerios + Little Free Libraries
Following a small spark through the entire process.
Inspiration Found Element Brand Element
Create Publish Scale
7 Things We’ve Learned.
1. Start with purpose
2. Unite people
3. Operate on-demand
4. Let the people lead you
5. Make useful things
6. Forge great partnerships
7. Create an ecosystem