Acoustic Thoughts for a Digital World

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Three reasons why you should never become a tech founder (and maybe one or two reasons why you should).

Tech startups are the holy grail for many people. Creating a company from scratch based on an idea you’ve come up with and refined together with your co-founders is a dream that many aspire to. Perhaps fewer people right now than in recent years, but still it’s cool, it’s exciting and it’s rewarding – or is it? Here are three reasons why you should never ever start your own tech company: So that was depressing. What’s the reason for becoming a founder? Well, if you can stomach the three reasons why you shouldn’t, there may be some good news. First and foremost, you are fulfilling a dream. That holds value in itself. Also, you are building something that can last. It may take forever, but change is incremental, and you are making it happen. Maybe you are even changing the world. All startups say they do, but who knows? Maybe

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futurism sliding doors future innovation
Blog
Erik Ingvoldstad

The Future is Unwritten

“The future ain’t what it used to be”, Yogi Berra, baseball coach The Promise of the Future What is the future? Is it simply whatever happens next in a linear timeline, or is it the idea of what is to come? Is it a dream, or is it a reality that has yet to have happened? Well, that probably depends on your philosophical approach to life in general. Exploring the future will never be an exact science – but understanding the past and the present – and keeping ahead of upcoming trends will help us understand it better. “The Future is Unwritten” is stamped on a revolutionary-looking badge on The Clash’s 1982 album “Combat Rock”. Another punk legend, Nina Hagen, proclaimed “Future is Now!” the same year on her rather eccentric “Nunsexmonkrock” album. Of course, both of them have a point. The future hasn’t happened, and is thus “unwritten”, and

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To AI or not to AI. It's not even a question. Innovation
Blog
Erik Ingvoldstad

To AI or not to AI. It’s not even a question.

The advent of generative AI, such as Chat GPT 3.5 and 4, Bard and others, has taken the world by storm. It’s literally changing our lives. For professionals, it’s a challenge to know when it’s ok to use AI, and when it’s not. Many companies have restricted the use for now until we know more. But it’s tempting to use in many situations. While writing this blog post, for example. Many companies use AI to write posts, to maximise SEO and to save work. I can assure you that this post is entirely written by “EI”, Erik’s “intelligence”. I personally feel blog articles are better when they have a personal perspective, and using prompted generative AI just doesn’t have the right tone for me. But that may change. It’s certainly getting better by the day. And when it comes to technology, one should really never say never. At an AI

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Waking the Fallen

Between January 2015 and February 2017, I, Erik Ingvoldstad through my (now personal) company Acoustic group wrote a regular blog on digital transformation, marketing, media and strategy. At some point it all got lost, and the blog has been dead for years. Well, as of today, I have brought it back from the dead. I have meticulously found every article I published (minus some news articles without relevance) and reposted it on my new Acoustic Thoughts blog. Thanks to the internet archives of the WaybackMachine, I have managed to find every word and republished it with the original date. Some links have been updated, and some images have changed, but nothing has been rewritten. You may find that some of the articles feel dated, but personally, I feel most of them have stood the test of time. Over the next few weeks, I will share these articles back on LinkedIn

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Innovating at the Speed of Life

Most companies are pretty good at developing their products and services to offer new features and new ways to engage the customer. But innovation on a grander level seems to be more complicated, and rarely gets the funding, the manpower and the senior management attention it deserves. Very few are able to change their business model to adapt to new developments in the market, be it technological, cultural or legislative changes. Transforming the business requires a whole new strategy, where the leadership acknowledges that change is the only constant, and every company and every industry has to constantly evaluate which industry they are in, and which products and services to deliver to whom. This transformation is a constant state of innovation, based on customer needs and journeys, technological opportunities and cultural shifts. A lot of corporations have set up innovation hubs, accelerator programs, etc. to encourage innovation in their company.

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Burn, baby, burn!

Hitting the reset button on the ad industry. The self-proclaimed “creative industry” is shaking at its foundation. Everything is changing around them, but the advertising agencies themselves seem to refuse to take any part in the transformation that is going on. Clients are challenging them to be more efficient, more accountable and more creative – not just with messaging, but with the entire approach to marketing. Unfortunately, advertising is one of the most conservative industries in the world, so not much has changed the past ten years, despite massive changes in media consumption, in technology, and in the consumer culture. There is no real integration, no embracing of convergence, and very little change in how the process is managed, developed and implemented. That makes advertising one of the industries that is most ripe for disruption. To pre-emptively counteract this inevitable disruption of the ad industry, I can only see one

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Fewer reports, more problem-solving ideas

Many people and companies get a bit uncomfortable with the ideas of management consultants and other business development consultancies. It’s understandable. I mean, most consultants produce reports, not actual solutions. That may have been a great thing in the last millennium, but in the current age, we don’t need just analysis and potential scenarios. We need actual business solutions. My personal interest has always been to see things that could be improved, and try to come up with creative ideas that actually solve that. Never to create something that goes into a bookshelf, or lays around on a hard drive somewhere. There are some easy steps to be more innovative, and more customer-centric. Identify the problem Focusing on problems is an amazing catalyst for solving those problems. Every business should embrace their customer’s problems, analyse them and understand how to solve those problems. People face these problems every day, and

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Independence Day

The big consultancies are gathering more and more power. They have quickly branched out from the core business of management consulting, IT consulting, accounting etc., to take on Digital Transformation, customer experience and now even creative communication services. And at first glance, this can sound like a good idea for clients. They can get everything from the same vendor, and (hopefully) get an integrated solution for their business. But the truth is, that by buying integrated services from a large consultancy, you end up getting exactly what the consultancy wants to sell you. I’ve written in the past about the dangers of being sold what the consultancy has to sell (usually IT services in the form of software solutions or SaaS). This is a great profit model for the big 10 consultancies, but it comes at the expense of unbiased advice. Think about it, if you were a consultant, and

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Stop Storytelling. Start “Story-listening”.

In the world of brands, storytelling has been one of the most important buzzwords of the 21st century. With ever-changing channel strategies, it means ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re making a TVC or producing a content piece for the internet. It’s all about telling stories.’ many would claim that storytelling is what advertising has been doing since the 60s, and they’d be right. Conveying a story, more than just a promotion, has been proven in the past to be more effective in connecting with the audiences. The only problem is that it’s still just advertising –  just same shit, new wrapping, and it doesn’t really work anymore. Or at the very least, it’s not important to your customers. And if it’s not important to your customers, it shouldn’t be important to you. People aren’t interested in your stories, they are interested in your service, your products, what your company stands

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Blog
Erik Ingvoldstad

The Problem With Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation is on everyone’s lips these days, from cool new start-ups, to the mastodons of the corporate world.  The business models of yesterday are changing, and disruption is happening in all industries, across all markets. The disruption is driven by new competitors, new ideas, new technology, new mind-sets and new cultural shifts that are making it more and more challenging for companies to stay connected with their customers and to just keep the business running as usual. ”Usual” doesn’t exist anymore. Almost every tech company, every consultancy firm and every digital agency talks the talk on Digital Transformation. But very few companies actually manage to walk the walk. So, what is the problem? Why is Digital Transformation taking so long? Well, let’s look at some of the problems that we encounter when discussing Digital Transformation. 1. Inaccurate Definition People and organisations (even the various consultants who sell Digital Transformation) have an unclear or vague understanding of what

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Why 2019 Won’t be Like 2019

In 1984, Ridley Scott directed the much-praised “1984” ad for Apple, referencing George Orwell’s famous 1948 novel by the same name. The payoff line in the ad goes: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’” A truly ground-breaking commercial that helped launch a computer that changed the paradigm of personal computing in many ways. Two years earlier, in 1982, Mr. Scott directed another dystopian film, albeit a slightly longer one. It was called “Blade Runner”, starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, and took place in Los Angeles in the year 2019 (which, as we know, is coming up in two years). Now, many of the predictions Scott made in Blade Runner has not come to fruition, thankfully. And surprisingly, especially one of the typical sci-fi predictions (also seen in the recent “Ghost in the Shell”, in “Back to The Future

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Erik Ingvoldstad

How to Win, Keep or Lose Customers

In the past couple of weeks, there have been some world-famous PR disasters. Pepsi’s embarrassing appropriation of counterculture, multi-ethnicity and grassroots demonstrations was one. United Airline’s violent enforcement of ridiculous procedures was another. And finally, last week an American Airlines’ flight attendant yelled at a crying mother and hit her with her stroller, narrowly missing the baby in her arms. These are of course major fails, that senior management are all over to try to limit the fallout over. But more importantly, every single day, most companies mistreat their customers. Bad service at restaurants. Inflexible staff. Annoying sales calls. Stupid ads on TV. Illogical and unfair policies in financial institutions. Retail staff who just answer “sorry, we’re out”, when a customer is looking for an item. Customer service representatives who forget that their job is first and foremost to listen to customers. And there are millions of other examples. Common sense has gone out the window,

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Erik Ingvoldstad

“I’m the king of the world!” (…moments later, …hits iceberg).

Banks. Can’t live with them. Can’t blow them up (apparently). Few companies are so disliked as the major banks, historically and currently. Now there is a reason for that. And it’s not all the banks fault. The service they offer can have huge impact on people’s lives, and people will get really disappointed when they don’t get what they want. Banks also  have to follow strict regulations on how they conduct their business. I requires capital, and security beyond what most other companies have to deal with. But, banks are in the service industry. And as much as we can empathise with the challenges of running a bank (especially in these disruptive times), they are the only ones who can address the issues. But they seem to have no idea what to do. And the lack of customer-centricity, digital transformation and general use of common sense is mind-boggling. Here’s and industry that’s being disrupted

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Blog
Erik Ingvoldstad

The Six Pillars of Innovation

Innovation is quickly becoming the most overused word in the English language, a trend that has not escaped the satirical masterminds over at The Onion, who claimed that the word “innovate” was used 8.2 timers per second at SxSW 2017. But as much as we can dismiss the use of buzzwords, it is a fact that with the huge changes happening in the business world today, being innovative is key to finding the right ideas for the future. All industries are changing with a velocity we’ve not seen since the industrial revolution. So, we could make up new words for it, but innovation is quite descriptive to what we are trying to do. To come up with new ideas that resonate with human beings, and that improves the business, efficiency, the products we’re selling, the services we offer or in some other way improves on what we already have. Innovation is key to

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Blog
Erik Ingvoldstad

Easy Money

The Fine Art of Customer Experience Creation Most companies spend a lot of money on branding and marketing activities. Doing advertising and branding in the right channels at the right time is a great thing to do for improving your brand performance and ROI. Many companies even invest large sums in CRM systems to improve customer retention. But many companies seem to miss out on the one thing that makes people buy from you again and again: Customer Experience. It is the most important factor to ensuring retention, cross-sell and up-sell for any company. And it can have exponential effect on your bottom line. If someone has a bad customer experience, they will not only go somewhere else, they will trash you in social media and in conversations with friends and family. On the other hand, if they had a great experience, they will tell also people about it. And

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Erik Ingvoldstad

“When You Change Yourself, You Change the World”*

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about “Why I Left Advertising”, which gained quite a lot of attention globally – perhaps specifically because I called out some problems with advertising, and what i believe is a more efficient way to achieve your goals. It can be summed up in one sentence; “Less talk, more action.” Insted of doing “advertising“, make sure your business model and service model is the best it can be. Deliver on your promises. Not exactly groundbreaking, I fully acknowledge that, but it seems that marketing departments and agencies are still insistent on doing things so people will “talk about it” – instead of just doing the right thing.  Bottom line is, if you want to change perceptions, you can’t just change your marketing – you have to change your business. II am not saying marketing isn’t important or won’t make a difference – but it will only

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Your life as a technologist

Do you see yourself as a technologist? Probably not, unless you work in software development, digital production, UX, UI, hardware development or other true tech roles. But being a technologist should be for more than just coders and IT specialists. In some small way, we all have to be technologists.  We live in an age of technological wonders. Every days, it seems, a new product or service is launched that has the potential to change our lives. No one thought that a small university start-up would, back in 2004, but merely 13 years later, Facebook dominates the media world, the tech world and even to some degree the financial world (their turn to profitability has been nothing but astonishing). We’ve had “information at our fingertips” since at least 1994, some lucky few (or very interested) had access to the world wide web even a year or two before that. Computers have been

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Why I Left Advertising

A couple of days ago, my friend Matt Eastwood, who is the Global Chief Creative Officer at J Walter Thompson (you can’t get much higher than that in creative roles in advertising), was interviewed by Indian website Live Mint. In the interview, he proclaimed that “it is the best time to be working in advertising”, because “now, you can invent a new product” [instead of just doing “advertising”]. So basically, he is saying that advertising is much more than it used to be, so it’s a great time to be in an agency. Fair point, but the ideas that agencies come up with are almost always created for the sole purpose of creating a marketing “buzz”. It’s driven by marketers, and it is highly unlikely that any of it ends up solving real problems for consumers and companies. So with all due respect to Matt (who is a truly great creative and one of the loveliest

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Shame is Transforming TV as we Know It

You may not have heard of “Skam” (Norwegian for “Shame”) yet, but trust me, you will hear a lot about in the future. Or at least, your kids will. Shame is a drama TV series, that is transforming the way people consume content. Showing that even traditional TV station can create content that resonates, and is delivered in a new and engaging format. Let me explain how. In 2015, NRK (Norwegian state owned broadcaster) realised they had a niche audience they didn’t address in a relevant way. That audience was girls between 14 and 16 (very narrow niche, for sure). They had plenty of programs for children, and for older youth and adults. But this group of girls didn’t watch any of it. Any attempts in the past had failed, as the shows didn’t feel real, nor was it easy to create something engaging for a notoriously phone-centric audience, who were more interested in connecting

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (It’s already happening on Facebook Live)

You may have noticed that your friends on Facebook, and especially media outlets have started going live on Facebook (Instagram recently launched a similar feature). It’s becoming the new way of covering live events – big and small. Linear TV is, as we all know, dying a slow and rather painful death. Entertaining or informative content, is not. We have completely changed the way we consume media. We still watch “TV”, but we do it on other platforms. And “bite sized” video content is becoming more and more popular, as we watch it on the bus, the MRT or at any time of the day when we’re bored (and lets face it, people in 2017 are bored a lot, our attention span has fallen dramatically). The Live revolution has just begun. It is changing the news landscape, it is changing personal video blogging – and it is, and will be changing,

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Forget “Futurism”, Embrace “Nowism”.

“Futurism”. Think about that word. Sounds pretty cool, no? The idea of predicting the future and telling others what is likely to happen appeals to us. I think anyone would find it quite interesting to call themselves a “futurist”. And the best part is, that by the time “the future” arrives, no one can truly hold you to your predictions.   Of course, there is a need for companies, governmental organisations and individuals to understand and plan for the future. But, in order to truly succeed in the future, you have to focus on the present. Keeping up with today’s cultural and technological complexity is hard enough, and many companies haven’t even begun to take advantage of the possibilities that are available right now. Plus, it can be quite comfortable to look ahead, and not have to deal with the problems we are facing today. But there is no way to prepare for the

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Stairway to (business) Heaven

What is your plan? I don’t mean just your plan for the next three months, or even the year. But what is your plan to ensure the future growth of your business? Are you just going to continue doing what you’ve always done, or are you planning for increased disruption and competition? New players, creative competitors, new ideas, new products, new services, new technology. Everything is changing in every single industry, and everyone is out to get everyone else. So you may want to consider your options moving forward. The choice is of course entirely yours, but remember that decisions to manage change and transformation, usually takes 12-36 months to implement. So perhaps it’s time to truly sit down and create a strategy that will take your business not only to the next level, but that provides incremental revenue growth both in the short-term and long-term perspective. You know your industry, you

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Erik Ingvoldstad

What’s Your Problem?

We don’t like to talk about problems. We usually try to escape them altogether, or if we absolutely can’t avoid them, we re-label them, so they don’t sound so scary. We call them challenges or barriers. Never problems. But here’s the thing; Problems are important. Problems are good. Problems are catalysts for change. When humans face problems, we rise to the occasion, we thrive, we collaborate, and we solve those problems. Problems are crucial to our society, and they are crucial for companies. And problems are the source of creativity and innovation. So when I ask “What’s your problem?”, it’s not out of hostility, it’s out of genuine interest. To be honest, your business problems are probably not so interesting. I understand that it’s a problem that you are losing revenue, or not growing as fast as you’d like. I’d even understand that you would say that your problem is that you are launching

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Future is Now. Acoustic 2017 and beyond.

At Acoustic, we’ve always encouraged companies and industries to innovate and change their business model in order to capitalise on the opportunities in a disrupted marketplace. Today, we can announce that we are taking our own medicine. We are changing our business model, and morphing into a strategic consultancy that focuses on Digital Transformation and Innovation. We still believe that marketing has an important place in the success of a brand, but marketing now encompasses much more than just advertising. And thus, we don’t believe advertising is the best vehicle to lead market innovation. It is part of the arsenal, but the change has to come from within the company, so that the brand can emerge as a vibrant force in the category. As a catalyst for change, Acoustic can help your business re-evaluate the status quo, explore innovation strategies, create Digital Transformation plans, drive cultural change within the organisation,

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The Culture of Digital

In most business today, we talk about getting ready for a new future through digital transformation. And in these discussions, a key challenge is to develop the technology of digital. The technology of digital requires tech competency, it requires an organisation that can attract and retain tech talent, it requires leadership, and the hardware and software to implement this technology. These are all important matters, and a foundation for any digital development, whether it’s done in-house or solved by external vendors. But just as important as the technology of digital, is the culture of digital. There has been a huge shift, that we all recognise, over the past 20 years. It keeps accelerating to the point where digital surrounds us in every stage and almost every moment of our lives. This is the culture we all live in, but there is a varying degree of recognition of this culture in businesses.

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Generation TL;DR

Ok, I will make this one short. There was a time, not so many years ago, that people made informed decisions based on several credible sources. They would read books, magazines, newspapers, and way the pros and cons of their decision. Those days are long gone. Today, people certainly do research, and check multiple sources., But the majority only reads headlines (and conclusions if we’re lucky), before making a decision; whether it’s who to vote for, where to go or what to buy. The world seems to have gone completely tabloid. It is not just in the US, where politicians like Trump and Sanders (in completely different ways) are adapting to this trend. it’s happening all around the globe. Well thought-out solutions seem to drown in the bid to shout the loudest or make the most populist tweet. It’s happening in Europe, in Asia and in Australia as well. And,

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Erik Ingvoldstad

No One Cares About Your Brand!

Ok, those are some pretty harsh words, I know, but hear me out. There is a widespread misunderstanding amongst many marketers, as they seem to believe that people walk around thinking about brands (and their brand specifically). That “top of mind” means that human beings actually go around thinking about specific product categories and brands even when they are not shopping for that category. For almost every brand on the planet, that’s absolute nonsense. Of course, as they go into a consideration phase or a purchase phase, brands help them choose. And in FMCG there may even be a craving phase, where people want a specific product and brand.  But all in all, you are lucky (or a very big brand in a high involvement category) if anyone thinks about you outside the purchasing cycle or a usage situation. And I’m here to tell you that that’s ok. Branding is a

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Disruption is Dead. Long Live Disruption!

For decades, the advertising industry has talked about disruption as a way of getting the attention of the consumer. Disruption, in the sense of breaking into people’s lives and frame of mind, almost rocking them out of their day, delivering a punchy message, and expecting that message to be understood and liked – because it was “disruptive”, is now dead. People don’t want to be disrupted, and they are more likely to “disrupt” themselves while watching TV, being on the internet, reading newspapers etc. They disrupt themselves with digital devices that take their attention to a “half state”, meaning they are halfway paying attention to what they are doing, and halfway paying attention to their devices. So how can marketing break through that? Let’s be realistic, it can’t. At least marketing in its traditional form cannot change anything in the new reality we are living in. And the so-called disruption does

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Erik Ingvoldstad

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”

Relax, no one is going to off anyone. When William Shakespeare wrote this line in Henry VI, back in 1591, he was merely stating that the best way to create chaos and disorder was to get rid of the lawyers (who would uphold law and order in society). But in 2016, in marketing, lawyers have become a big obstacle for connecting with audiences. Or, rather, the concern for what the lawyers will say. The lawyers themselves are rarely involved. We have come to a juncture in time, where many brands are terrified of doing anything wrong. So terrified, in fact, that they end up doing nothing right. Instead, we see an influx of dull drivel, simply because everyone involved is so worried about what their boss thinks, what their boss’ boss thinks and what the lawyers think, that they forget to think for themselves. I call it “corporate fear syndrome” or CFS.

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Erik Ingvoldstad

O Captain, My Captain! An Open Letter to the 5 Advertising Chiefs.

Dear Sir Martin, John, Maurice, Michael, and Ishii-san I don’t know any of you personally, and you certainly don’t know me. But as our industry’s leading captains, I am calling on you to lead. Because something in ad land has to change, and you have to take the responsibility to do something. Now, there are a lot of things we could talk about; how we’ve not really managed to get integration working because of silos (I know you’re restructuring, Maurice. Let’s see how you go first before we conclude), or how our industry has been too slow in truly incorporating technology platforms into communications services, how most ad agency people see their role as purely creating marketing and not solving business issues or how a global approach often comes off as arrogant and old fashioned. But I’m not going to do that. In fact, criticising the big holding companies is neither

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The Benefit of Having Balls

Some people have them, others don’t. And I’m not talking about men vs. women here. We are talking the metaphorical ones. The ones that separate you from a grey blob in the universe. The ones that give you super powers. The ones that bring you a sense of purpose and a place in the record books. Brands can also have balls. Or at least companies can employ people with the desire to make a difference. Unfortunately, many don’t. It is not easy to be the one person in an organisation who stands up for the extraordinary. You have to face many naysayers and people who insist on playing it safe. Especially where there are committees making decisions, the safe solutions tend to win. It’s understandable. Why risk your reputation, your job and even your career on something so minuscule as marketing a brand or a product? On the other hand, what

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Transformation is no Monkey Business

The global financial climate is rather nervous these days, and companies are trying to understand what that means to their business. They are racing to find out how they can come out as a winner, rather than being dragged down by a slowing China, plummeting oil prices and increased currency volatility. Businesses may not be panicking, but they are certainly looking at ways to protect themselves from economic slowdown. This week, as we enter the Year of the Red Monkey, many Singaporean business owners would traditionally look to the horoscopes or listen to a fortune master to understand the auspicious events and signs that will affect their business. The global financial climate is rather nervous these days, and companies are trying to understand what that means to their business. They are racing to find out how they can come out as a winner, rather than being dragged down by a slowing

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Are You Useful or Useless?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how entertainment is one of the two proven content strategies. In our last post of 2015, I will address the other one, which is simply to be useful. Whether we call it Brand Utilities, Customer Utilities or just tools, offering value to your audience is one of the most effective ways to connect with them. But it is much more than just thinking that the product sold offers a degree of usefulness for the customer – this is about using utility as marketing. “So how can one be useful? Does that mean we get to have an app? Please?”, you ask. Not necessarily, sorry. Most branded apps have no value for the consumer, and is mainly made for the CEO to say that “we have an app”. Most consumers are reluctant to download apps from brands, and if they do, they tend to

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Here We are Now, Entertain Us!

Content, content, content. It’s all we marketing people seem to talk about these days. But “content” is such a cold word, and it doesn’t say anything about how the human beings consuming the “content” feel afterwards. In fact, content can be used to describe “any information published (and for most parts online, but it certainly doesn’t have to be)”. So using the word content to describe marketing activities is not really helpful. But most importantly, content means nothing to the consumers. Who has ever heard anyone say “that was some great content, I really enjoyed it”? No one, right? So then what? How do we talk about marketing platforms that engage, inform and connect with audiences? There are only two ways to effectively connect with people, be useful to them or entertain them. I will address being useful in an upcoming post, this one will entirely focus on entertainment. Because there

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The End of “Digital”

Through the past 20 years, digital media has played a bigger and bigger role in marketing communication. But for those twenty years, we’ve treated it as something different than everything else. We’ve had digital agencies, digital experts, digital this and digtal that. I myself have worked in digital agencies as much as I have worked in traditional agencies. But now, it’s time to make a change. I don’t believe in the myth of “digital” anymore. I don’t believe in the idea of digital as a standalone tool that has nothing to do with other communication channels and sits outside the business’ core strategy. It’s time to see digital for what it really is, a crucial integrated platform to create engagement, drive results and spearhead innovation. I mean, digital is not dying. Not as a communication tool, not as a way to connect with consumers and certainly not as a major

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Erik Ingvoldstad

9 Ways to Take Advantage of The New Marketing Paradigm

Anyone who’s been following the Acoustic blog or met with us, will have heard how marketing is changing almost by the day, how digital transformation (and disruption) is coming your way, and how convergence is redefining the marketing communications industry (hint: it’s not just about advertising). But we do understand that some of these processes and service offerings can be complicated to understand and seem like large investments from day one. It can also be difficult to see where to start. To make this more accessible and easier to engage with, we have created some tangible, bite-sized offerings that will allow brands to get a head start in their journey to re-engage with audiences and grow their business – without having to commit to retooling the whole business. Our main offerings are still Integrated Communications (“advertising”) and Digital Transformation (“applied technology/customer centric solutions”), but these 9 product/service offerings will help

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The Gentle Art of Being Nimble

Process, process, process. It seems to be all agencies talk about these days – including us here at Acoustic. And yes, the bigger picture approach of (digital) transformation, business development and creating connections through ground-breaking communications is important. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right answer for every problem. It could be the opposite. Sometimes we all just need to get things done. The beauty of a boutique agency is that it allows us to be versatile and nimble. As much as we advocate the longer extensive processes, we understand the needs of a client under time pressure, under budget constraints and under urgent need to make things happen. So, we are very happy to deliver those services. In fact, any agency should have the capability to maintain two lines of thoughts at the same time; “How can we provide stronger long-term value to our clients”, and “How can we work

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Erik Ingvoldstad

From Slowdown to Fast-track

Some economist have predicted another slowdown in the coming years, or even worse, a recession. Even if that doesn’t happen, most industries are grappling with globalisation and technological disruption, where old jobs are disappearing and it’s taking time to replace them with new. Troubling, indeed. But wherever there is adversity, there is hope. Wherever there are challenges, there are opportunities. And the biggest opportunity for any company in 2015 is Digital Transformation. Digital Transformation is a strategic process where businesses look at how they can utilise technology to increase the value they deliver to their customers (and/or decrease operating cost). It is a process that goes beyond communications and tactics, and truly focuses on how technologies can improve the business – and thus increase their profits. By redefining their business for the digital age, a brand or a company can shake up the industry they are in, offer their customers more

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The Untitled TV Title Piece

I like branding exercises where you get to demonstrate the success rate of brand names. My favourite game is to project success rates of TV shows based on their title in relevance to their (perceived) quality. What does this have to do with branding, you ask? Everything. First and foremost, a TV franchise is a brand in itself. Just look at “The Simpsons”, “Friends” and “Sex and the City”, three successful shows that all became household names and hold great cultural value of the era they represent. Exactly the definition of a great brand. In addition, a TV show has many success factors, but they can simply be grouped into two: Quality (of story, actors, production etc.) and branding (title and visual style). That means that we can identify the two value groups. And since TV shows are ranked weekly, we can also see how popular this particular brand is.

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The 5 New Competitors to Watch Out For

Back in the day, knowing who your competitors were, was easy. If you sold paint, your competitors were other companies who sold paint. If you sold accounting services, other accountants would be your competitors. But the world isn’t that simple anymore. Sure, your main competitor will still be from your core industry, but there will be a whole host of others. As businesses and industries are shook up by financial turmoil, by digital transformation, by changes in consumer behaviour, and by technological and business innovation, new players are becoming very competitive very quickly. There are even some old players who see these opportunities, and not only act on them, but take the category to new heights. But what if you’re just a company minding your own business? Who are your new competitors, and how do you deal with them? Here are five competitors you didn’t know you had to look out for:

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Marketing for Startups

A startup can be a magical place. The energy, the enthusiasm, the creativity and the sense of changing the world makes it a very exciting place to be. But as anyone who’s ever worked at a startup knows, it can be bloody hard work. Customers aren’t queueing up outside your business to buy your product or service. Investors aren’t throwing money at you and governmental organisations aren’t waiting for you to save the country. These things don’t happen, because you’ve been too busy building the company. The truth is that no one knows about you or your business. Sure, you may have garnered some interest in your industry and amongst techies and innovators. You may even have been talked about on a blog or in a magazine. But the ones you are trying to get to use your service or buy your product, have never heard of you, your idea or

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Did Anyone Order a Startup?

The traditional client-agency/consultancy relationship, which has been in place since the dawn of the marketing industry, has many benefits. It makes for a manageable and controlled relationship, where the client provides a brief, and the agency executes. It works well for campaign based activities as well as predetermined and/or finite projects. But what if your challenge is to go through a Digital Transformation? Or you want to inject new technology into your brand and product line-up, but you’re not sure if you should approach it through marketing, product/service development or something else? It could be that you want to add new services or products to your line-up. Or perhaps you see all the opportunities the digital economy offers, but you struggle to find a way to incorporate it into your brand and organisation? Thankfully, there are a range of other options in terms of developing a strategic partnership with a Digital

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Erik Ingvoldstad

How to Fix Customer Service

Every time I experience (or read about) a bad customer service experience, I am baffled. Not because I and other customers should get whatever they want, but because businesses don’t seem to understand the consequences of bad customer experiences. They don’t seem to grasp that whatever happens at the customer service centre or on the customer service hotline directly translates into good or bad marketing. It translates into positive or negative word of mouth (in social media and real life). It translates into sales or loss of sales. And it translates into bottom line results. Whether it’s positive or negative is something the company chooses. If they choose to prioritise customer service, it will have positive effect, if they choose to ignore it, it will have a negative effect. Harsh, but true. Seeing customer service as tech support or after-sales is a huge mistake. And a lot of companies are

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The Age of Authenticity

I’m not going to pretend to be a political commentator or an election expert. However, I do find it interesting what seems to be happening in politics on a global scale, and it reminds me of what is happening in branding. In politics, we are seeing a rise of candidates whose only contribution is being perceived as “real” or authentic if you will. Donald Trump is the nominee for the Republican party. Of course, his candidacy is a roller coaster, and he’ll (probably) never win, but it is interesting to see why he is popular amongst American voters. It would be easy to dismiss Trump as a populist without substance, but he is more than that. To some extent, he is popular because of his controversial views on immigration, on taxes, and on government etc. And he is popular because he is a “self made billionaire” (which of course is

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Erik Ingvoldstad

How to Connect with Communities

How many people in Asia are interested in, say, gardening? Not that many? How about politics? Or cars? Airplanes? Music? Cooking? A few? Thousands? Millions? Maybe even billions? Let’s just agree that there are more people interested in specific arts, cultures and hobbies than one would think. Thanks largely to the internet, smaller communities can organise themselves across borders and regions, connect and collaborate and exchange ideas and experiences. In fact, many communities that were tapering off have seen resurgence as people have found others with similar interests that they can share their hobby with. This perpetual quest for a sense of belonging is one of the most universal insights into human social behaviour. People like to interact with like-minded people. Plain and simple. And they like to be recognised as someone who belongs to a community – even if that “community” is a group of people who like to

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Erik Ingvoldstad

5 Ways to go from “Digital Passive” to “Digital Active”

The simple banner ad has created a lot of success online. But also a lot of misery. Today, most users avoid banner ads, pre-rolls and other passive display media as the plague. Ad-blockers are becoming increasingly more popular, even Apple are opening up for ad-block features in Safari on iOS 9. Ad skipping (TrueView) has been available on YouTube for 5 years. Still, many advertisers continue to use passive display as a mainstay in their online campaigns. It is easy to buy, easy to produce, and buying CPC makes it low risk. But there are a lot more effective alternatives out there and they work in both mobile and traditional web environments. Let’s look at five of them. 1. Start with engagement. This one should be on top of everyone’s list. Don’t worry about how many people see your advertising, focus on how many actually engage with your message and your brand. Figure

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Erik Ingvoldstad

9 Mistakes Marketers Keep Making

We all make mistakes. Some of us more than others, it is a natural and human thing to do. Most mistakes are easy to identify, some are easily rectified and others are just to be ignored. The most important thing is to learn from those mistakes, and move forward. But there are some mistakes that seem to happen over and over again. We may be aware of the mistakes, but mostly we tend to make mistakes that we are completely oblivious to. We see the result of those mistakes, but we can’t identify the problem. This especially happens a lot in marketing. Not because people in marketing and advertising are less enlightened, but because there are no set answers. There is no way that anyone with 100% accuracy can predict the outcome of a marketing activity. But there are many things we can do to eliminate the risk of making

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Netizens are People Too!

“Netizens”, a constructed noun that describes the online citizen. A person who has an opinion about something that is posted online. It’s a word that is primarily used by the traditional press in Asia (especially in Singapore and China). But the question is, who are these “netizens”? Are they internet trolls? Are they anarchists? Are they the anonymous opinion? Are they commentators? A mob? Are they the “morality police”? Or can I offer up an alternative definition? Netizens are nothing but ordinary people. Yes, a representation of ordinary people, who happen to be online at the moment. They are human beings, and as diverse as Asia itself. Some of them are trolls, some are avid commentators, some casually opinionated, some are topic specific contributors. All of them are individuals. To see “netizens” as a separate group of people from society shows a complete lack of understanding of how digital culture

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Syntax Error. The Failure of Traditional Integration.

Mergers and acquisitions have been the building blocks of the modern agency networks. In the past decade, it has mostly been about catching up with the digital age, and therefore trying to secure the best digital agencies out there. Personally, I seem to go through several stages of feelings about these acquisitions when they happen. First, I tend to get excited. “Perhaps”, I think to myself, “this time it will result in true integration, a cornering of the market in the new marketing landscape, and a strong thought leader in the future of communications.” (Yes, I know. I can be pretty naive some times.) Then I usually wake up, and realise that there won’t be much difference – we’ve seen it so many times before.  What’s the actual plan to make the acquisitions work? Are they looking to just add another digital agency to their network?  Or are they really planning

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Erik Ingvoldstad

What’s in a Name?

Since the opening of the Acoustic office in Singapore, we have been asked “why Acoustic? Why did you choose a name from the music and sound universe?” (Or something to that effect). Most people recognise it as a great name, but are also curious why we chose a name that doesn’t sound like an agency. So for all those who wonder, here is the real story behind the name. Since the opening of the Acoustic office in Singapore, we have been asked “why Acoustic? Why did you choose a name from the music and sound universe?” (Or something to that effect). Most people recognise it as a great name, but are also curious why we chose a name that doesn’t sound like an agency. So for all those who wonder, here is the real story behind the name. We set out to choose a name that would be representative of who we

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Erik Ingvoldstad

You speak to millions, but you’re talking to no one*

Through the past 20 years, digital media has played a bigger and bigger role in marketing communication. But for those twenty years, we’ve treated it as something different than everything else. n principle, mass communications is a simple concept; if you have a message that you think a lot of people need to hear, you broadcast it to everyone at the same time. But in reality, it’s most often based on what you need to say, not what the target audiences need or want to know. Sure, most brands make an effort to create the message in a way that is creative and appeals to the consumers, but chances are that they’re talking to quite a few others along the way. Still, there’s nothing wrong with that – it does help building the brand over time. In fact, mass marketing has ruled the world for more than a century, and it has been

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Erik Ingvoldstad

You Compute Me

Let me start off with a confession: In my entire life, I have never used a dating app or a dating website. Of course, I am now a happily married man, but I have been single in the internet era. Yet, I never saw the appeal in meeting women online. (I did develop a very simplistic matchmaker program in computer class in high school, back in the 80s. But that’s a story for another time). Let me start off with a confession: In my entire life, I have never used a dating app or a dating website. Of course, I am now a happily married man, but I have been single in the internet era. Yet, I never saw the appeal in meeting women online. (I did develop a very simplistic matchmaker program in computer class in high school, back in the 80s. But that’s a story for another time).

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Will the Real Singapore Please Stand Up?

“How do you like Singapore?”, “Oh it’s nice, love the food, fantastic shopping and I love/hate the weather. But I do think it’s a bit boring.” Sounds familiar? It’s pretty much what most western tourists would say about Singapore if they’re asked. Actually, even quite a few expats would describe Singapore in a similar fashion. But does that make it true? Is Singapore a boring, unimaginative and bland place where bankers come to live in luxury condos with helpers? Is it true that Singapore is “not really Asia, more a western state that’s located in the East”? If perception is reality, maybe it is. But maybe, just maybe, Singapore is what you want it to be? What you believe to be true? Isn’t your perception of any country you visit or live in really a reflection of yourself? As Forrest Gump so brilliantly stated, “stupid is what stupid does”. Well,

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Taking Social Currency to the Bank

Using social media for marketing purposes can be hit or miss. If you get it right, you can attract thousands of followers, engage them in conversation, be a hero, go viral, sell lots of your product, and generally be seen as a likeable brand. But if you fail, best case scenario is that you end up being ignored. Worst case, you create animosity towards your brand, where people boycott your products, refuse to engage with you and move on to your competitor. Sounds dramatic, I know, but this has happened to many brands. So let’s look at a way to keep track of your social media engagement in a way that gets you a positive relationship with your customers and increases your influence. The most effective way of doing that, is by understanding how social currency works. Social currency is your virtual bank account in social credibility and authenticity. When you

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Periscope Needs a Disaster

Live streaming video has arrived on our phones this year, with the launch of Meerkat and Periscope. Although not the first (who remembers Qik?), these two services certainly have the ease of use and social media integration on their side, plus our phones are quicker and our cameras are sharper than back in 2008. Allowing people to live broadcast anything from anywhere within a few seconds, has the potential to become the next big communication revolution. Except, it’s not going so great. Even though there was a lot of buzz surrounding these apps on SXSW, they have slowed down, and cannot be called a success yet, by any standards. Twitter’s Periscope1 sits just below the 100 most downloaded apps, and Meerkat2 another 30-something places down. And traffic is low. So why does a seemingly useful and interesting service perform so poorly? Here we have two apps that are easy to use, provides a new interesting service, and has

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Beyond Agency

Today, anyone working in marketing, whether it’s a big global one, a mid-sized regional company or a small up-and-coming local brand is trying to create connections with their audience – or build excperiences. So if they are looking for a marketing partner, they will probably call a pitch for an advertising agency. It’s what is seen as the safe thing to do, after all, advertising agencies are the “experts in brand building”. But what if that marketer also needs a PR agency, a digital agency, an event agency, tech provider, CRM, media or analytics, or a combination of these? Or maybe they just need help to sort things out? The truth is, that since the game has changed, the game plan needs to change to something more comprehensive, more integrated and completely media neutral and technology agnostic. And maybe an ad agency isn’t the right place for that? Sure, the

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Erik Ingvoldstad

The Rise of the New Creative Class

In branding and advertising, creativity is the key to differentiation. Creativity is looking at the world from a different angle, and coming up with something that people engage with. Creativity is about making something trivial interesting, creating something new or turning common beliefs upside down. It’s unexacting. It touches nerves. It evokes discussions. It makes people feel something. And it makes people do something. Creativity is what distinguishes the amazing from the dull. It is the one thing that separates a mediocre campaign from a great one. And it is the main factor in driving results. It’s not the only driver, and it doesn’t always work the way it should, but more often than not, creative communications outperforms more expected campaigns (as documented by the IPA). But how does creativity work, and how is it leveraged in today’s agencies? Or, as one of the most frequent questions I’ve had in

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Erik Ingvoldstad

13 Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore

We talk a lot about how communication has changed from the Mad Men era until today’s digitally driven consumer interaction. But what’s next for this industry that many of us love (and a lot of us love to hate)? Here are my thoughts on the changes we will see in advertising, technology, marketing, and everything in between: “13 predictions on how our industry will change.” And please remember, as Don Draper in Mad Men said: “Change isn’t good or bad. It just is.” 1. The Convergence Continues The industry convergence will continue, as brands will be demanding a truly integrated approach to everything they do. We will no longer be discussing advertising vs digital vs event vs PR etc. Everything will become one arena, where we utilise all the tools in the box, in order to reach, interact with and sway consumers. This will require agencies to hire different kind

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Last Call for Digital Transformation!

In the past two decades, the digital landscape has grown from an interesting niche channel for geeks to becoming the most powerful driver of financial growth for most brands and industries. Yet, there still are many brands that haven’t been able to capitalise on the digital culture in an effective way. There could be many reasons for this. They may not have gotten around to it yet. The brand could be generic in nature. The product doesn’t represent a considered purchase. Or it is a brand that is targeted at an older demographic. It could be a product that can only be sold through professional channels. The company could be too small. Or too big. They could be planning to go through the transformation soon. They may have had too little budget to invest in it. They may have a CEO who doesn’t see the point. They could have competitors

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Erik Ingvoldstad

Digital Centric is the New Integration

Integration has been the Holy Grail for agencies and clients alike for at least two decades now. It has been seen as the way to create a communication platform that allows all media channels to work together, and helps the agency networks facilitate cooperation between their different specialist agencies. Unfortunately, this thinking is flawed from the start. Integration, in the traditional sense, doesn’t work. Period. On one hand, it is virtually impossible to get a traditional ad agency and a specialist or digital agency to work in a truly integrated way. Trust me, I’ve been on both sides of that equation. Too many things tend to get in the way. Money gets in the way; even when there’s a shared P&L, Account Directors have their KPI’s to worry about, and therefore find it hard to share the wealth with their colleagues from other units. Egos get in the way; the

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