Platform recently worked with BOP Consulting to evaluate the impact that Stoke and Staffordshire’s moving image cluster has had over the first two years of its life and its great to now publish that final report here.
It’s been an invaluable exercise and having that impartial, external view of Platform has provided some important points for discussion as we look to take the cluster forward.
We’ve seen some notable successes, with our companies being recognised on a national and international level for their work, the screen sector and creative industries as a whole growing rapidly and some exciting new projects being developed.
We face some real challenges however, and it’s interesting to see this report alongside the recent Creative Industries Council visit to the city and the outcomes of that.
Strategy is key.
The potential of the city and our digital-creative sector is huge but unless we work in a more strategic, connected way with our partners in the city region, that potential will go unfulfilled. Growth strategies have to incorporate the digital-creative sector fully if they are going to be relevant to the economic realities of the next five years. As a city region we have to learn from and be proud of our past, but we can’t live in it.
The digital-creative industries have become the new powerhouse of the global economy and that works at a macro, as well as a micro level. The World Economic Forum report on the future of jobs highlights how local, regional and national economies will be impacted by the Fourth industrial Revolution (4IR). And its not just about robots and AI – 4IR is far more than that. It is reconfiguring global trade, skills needs and how we think about economic growth.
That might seem like a long way from Stoke but it’s not. Supporting our digital-creative industries and the skills needed to see our ambitions through must be at the forefront of all our thinking. If we want to see a vibrant, creative and entrepreneurial city then clusters like Platform are vital.
This blog exploring customer experiences was written by Joe Stubbs, an MSc Digital Marketing Management student at Staffordshire University, working with Platform as a part of his work placement project.
It could be argued that the screen industries are one of a few global industries at the forefront of digital marketing. The symbiotic relationship between the screen industries and marketers creates a trickle-down effect for technological trends.
This use of new data-driven technology delivers differentiated and valuable customer experiences (CX). One of the biggest issues currently facing businesses is optimising CX. The only way to do this is to increase your data gathering and analytic capabilities. Whether it’s the deployment of a customer relationship management (CRM) system or sending a survey to clients and analysing the results. Having a better understanding of your customers will lead to the creation of optimised content which will lead to valuable experiences.
Optimise your content with big data.
According to Adobe’s Running on Experience report: “Companies that successfully transform into an experience business will grow and thrive. Those that don’t will struggle to catch up.”
Most businesses should consider the following experience-based opportunities:
Create compelling content for digital experiences.
Data-driven marketing focusing on individuals.
Using video/AR/VR content to increase engagement.
Using marketing automation/artificial intelligence/bots to increase efficiency and drive campaigns.
Understanding the behaviour of mobile users as well as reaching and optimising your website for them.
Most of these opportunities are content-driven experiences.
The Running on Experience report states that “70 percent” of media and entertainment
(M&E) companies rank content marketing and connected experiences as “very
important” in building customer experience capabilities.
In the report, Jeff Gross, VP of Technology delivery at Epsilon says that “media and entertainment industries need to deliver relevant content wherever their customers are and ensure it’s a seamless experience… These companies need to deliver the right content to the right person at exactly the right time—regardless of what screen they use.”
So, for most businesses this means making the most of the user data at hand. Assuming you’ve connected your site to a Google Analytics account you can easily find:
What time users are visiting your site?
What device/browser/operating system are they
Where are these users coming from Direct/Organic
searches, Referrals, or Social Media?
Using these simple habitual metrics you can target users more effectively. Then you can overlay that with demographic data to identify customers and personalise content for them. By considering a range of customer preferences, you can keep content relevant to customers so that they will come back for more.
My advice to screen industry businesses in Staffordshire is actually a reminder. Remember, your industry is at the forefront of technological change, so making an effective and efficient use of the time that you invest into digital marketing is an investment worth making. Also, utilise your customer data. It will allow you to target them with original and personalised content which will naturally differentiate you from your competitors.
To conclude, consider how Spotify uses machine learning algorithms to create personalised playlists for each user based on what they have previously listened to. You probably don’t have the financial capability of Spotify, but you could easily create a blog/vlog based on the interests of your followers and post it during the time of day they are most active using a social media management tool like Hootsuite.
Last month, Platform hosted a visit to Stoke-on-Trent by a delegation of creative industries advisers, policy specialists and academics brought together by the Creative Industries Council sub-group on Regions and Clusters.
Here, Platform’s Chair Peter Rudge shares his thoughts on the event.
Revitalising smaller cities
This event was apart of a Creative Industries Council initiative about Revitalising Smaller Cities and I was part of a launch in Coventry last year as part of the City of Culture announcement. The project is about how these smaller cities can leverage sector strengths alongside a recognition of ‘place’ to drive creative business innovation and address the widening gap in prosperity, investment and policy thinking between towns and small cities and larger urban centres.
The idea is to use these visits to inform national policy on innovation, creative industries and uneven development.
I was keen to make sure the focus for the day was very much on the digital creative industries, Platform and our outstanding member businesses, to ensure we showed that there was more to Stoke-on-Trent than ceramics. Indeed, it was vital to make the point that confluence of technology and creative industries that characterises the screen industries is really where growth can come from in these regions. The interface between the creative industries and the fourth industrial revolution is how that uneven development can most successfully be addressed.
Lessons to be learnt
I was in Pittsburgh last year, speaking at the Create Festival – a mash up of digital and creative thought leaders organised by the Pittsburgh Technology Council. It’s a driver of where Pittsburgh is heading and indicative of how they refocused their thinking as a city. The parallels with Stoke were noticeable. Pittsburgh was a steel town, a powerhouse of American industry until the inevitable collapse of traditional industry and all the economic and social problems that go with it. Although, the city had the foresight and leadership to not hang on to the past but double-down on its future – as a creative, digital and entrepreneurial city. It’s now thriving.
There’s a lesson there for what we are trying to do in Stoke and the importance to that journey of bringing together such an important and influential group to the city cannot be overstated. Platform has highlighted the talents we have in the city, in a sector that is driving not just the UK economy but rapidly becoming a global force for inclusive growth.
We have a long way to go however. Although the visit showed the real strengths we have in the sector, in the close link with higher education in the city and in the desire to make this a success. There is a lot of work to do in putting the digital creative industries front and centre in the city region. Greater collaboration, more joined up thinking across the major stakeholders and real commitment to seeing creative transformation through are all areas that need work. The city has a proud heritage of creativity, disruption and innovation – lets not stop now.
Stay tuned and follow Platform on Twitter and Facebook for interviews with the industry experts that attended the event.