“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.” So says Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics and a previous keynote speaker at IBM’s Business Connect event. With digital fast becoming the irrefutable (and most likely irrevocable) future, statements like Qualman’s are increasingly ubiquitous in business and marketing. Yet is it really important to have a clearly defined ‘digital strategy’? And how can a smaller brand utilize the various social media platforms effectively? To shine some light on these topical questions, we invited general manager of Electric Dialogue, Mark Hughes, and Guy Earle, CEO of Galante Magazine, to speak at the first Zambuni Collective event of 2016: A discussion on digital strategy for the emerging heritage brand.
The event took place on Thursday the 4th of February at the Pickett flagship on Burlington Gardens, a choice made not only because of Trevor Pickett’s unwavering hospitality, but because of the relevance of the Pickett brand to the Collective. Pickett leather goods are handmade from start to finish in the British Isles, and bespeak a level of craftsmanship and quality that is, these days, a rarity. Moreover, Pickett is independently owned; there is no anonymous behind-the-scenes proprietor to dictate — or support on — any sort of strategy. As such, the Pickett shop was the ideal setting to host an event for smaller, independent heritage brands offering a product or a service that is, in every sense of the word, outstanding. Tellingly, Marisa Orchard, from fellow leather goods brand Estados, expressed her admiration for the Pickett brand and told of the great regard in which it is held in the leather industry.
Claire kicked off the evening’s proceedings with an introductory speech on the collective, explaining that heritage brands often offer extraordinary products, but can need support when it comes to digital representation — particularly when competing with larger, multinational brands with the ability to pump vast quantities of money in to all areas of marketing. “It is because of this very issue that I was inspired to launch the Collective,” explains Claire. “I envisioned a mutually beneficial circle of members — exceptional brands who are, for now, of a more modest size — where knowledge and experience could be pooled together. In this dynamic environment, members share ideas, experience and contacts, all the while receiving extensive brand support from the experienced team at Zambuni PR.”
Following on from this introduction was Mark Hughes, speaking about effective digital strategy for small heritage brands with a limited budget. As general manager of digital marketing and web design agency Electric Dialogue, Mark brought his experience to a discussion on the importance of carefully targeted digital strategy. It was particularly exciting to see how Mark’s talk energised the room, creating a conversational environment in which people were fielding questions, sharing their previous experiences, and discussing concerns they had had about social media marketing in the past. Rosie van Cutsem of Troy London and Ed Morrison of Guns on Pegs were particularly interested in Mark’s feedback on Facebook. For retail brands that sell products and services, Facebook is an essential platform.
Continuing this open and fruitful discussion, Guy Earle, CEO of Galante magazine, took to the floor. Galante is a pioneering digital publication for aspirational young men, and offers the pursuit of ‘a gentleman’s lifestyle at a young man’s price’. Guy talked of the inspiration behind the magazine’s inception, namely that there was a gulf between lower-end men’s magazines and the high-end luxury publications — the latter generally featuring products well beyond the spending power of most men in their early twenties. Having chosen to cater to this young market, Galante have made extensive evaluations of how their audience best responds to different forms of content. Guy talked of the innovative new platform that Galante have developed for their magazine, explaining the way in which they have seamlessly combined video, textual and pictorial content. This exciting new platform is launching imminently.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the evening was witnessing the sort of atmosphere that the Collective fosters. At the conclusion of the talks, even a cursory glance around the room revealed animated discussion; new contacts were made, cards were exchanged and dates for coffee penned. Christopher of Budd Shirtmakers, who discussed his new role managing his brand’s social media, said that the evening had given him new ideas and inspiration. Suzanne from Hardy Amies chatted with Claire about Savile Row and the role of digital in the local and international market. Alastair of William Evans and Angela of Sautter talked of the advertising limitations on smoking and guns. Alastair provided this feedback: “It was a fun and informal evening where a lot was learnt and problems shared. I greatly enjoyed having direct access to a wealth of knowledge, and the Collective provides this resource. It was particularly good to meet like-minded people and businesses in the area. I feel that seeing the heritage industry through the eyes of other brands helps my own perspective and vice versa.”
It was inspiring to see these aspirational brands forging new links with one another — links that may well lead to a pooling of resources, avenues for collaboration, and ultimately ways to generate new business. The event created an atmosphere that was rich in energy and fertile with ideas. Zambuni is very much looking forward to the next Zambuni Collective event, which will be hosted at Coya private member’s club, and feature journalists from the luxury sector who will advise on how to pitch effectively around the social diary.
The Zambuni Collective is becoming more than the sum of its parts. In bringing together these dynamic and creative minds, individuals contribute their talent to build, collectively, an initiative that will no doubt perpetuate and drive heritage in the luxury sector.
For details on Zambuni Collective membership, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.