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The Era of Digital Craft (By Jody Turner + Ryan Buchanan)

Ryan Buchanan
CEO + Founder
It’s 2013 and society is a study in contrasts, from superficial technology quickly flowing in and invading our lives, to a trend toward more slower, more meaningfully-crafted engagements. It’s 2013 and the future has arrived. Robots. Automation. Instant attention. Instant everything, at our fingertips. Digital technology has made it all so easy to get what we want when we want it. For brands, it seems so easy and virtually free to get a message out through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SMS, email, and online via websites. Since there are virtually no barriers and no cost to getting one’s message out there in this environment, we find consumers and brands today swimming in unwanted effluence. Concurrently in 2013 a heritage reinvention is happening: there’s a new trend towards the old-school, no short-cut, no easy out approach. While personally we are choosing to work to make meaningful connection in our lives, we see this reflected in fits and starts online.


Emerging today is a digital awareness that’s more about the human aspects of tech: from how we are using the human brain, to execution with the human hand on keyboards, smartphones, video cameras, and more. The trend of digital craft is about finding your unique ability, being true to it and sharing what you have discovered. Professionally, it’s all about leveraging these crafted local talents into a new idea of marketing–much more intimately expressive and broadly inclusive. This is the niche to mass world we have been speaking of for awhile now but it has normalized and is integrated in our daily lives. As an example of this trend, at eROI, employees engage with digital as they would with the craft heavy culture of Portland, Oregon, where they reside. They have shown they are serious about the trends of digital marketing craft and have started a social media program within the agency to drive thought leadership. Each week across 5 social channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the personality driven THINK blog, one employee is dedicated to one digital channel (meaning five employees are engaged in five marketing channels that week) and posts their leadership perspectives throughout the week. The next week a different group of 5 employees takes over. This approach provides a flow of creative new input that is human-powered, theme-driven  and strategic in its offer of new content through various perspectives.


Big E entertainment is something most of us grew up with from Ovaltine to Think Different. Little e entertainment is much more personal and allows the end user to share their love of your idea, particularly if it resonates with their lives and with their world. Today our intimate worlds amplify quickly and a collision is occurring. Digital Craft shows up with messaging that emotionally connects with the audience. Portland ad agency Wieden + Kennedy spent hundreds of hours with the target audience, Moms of Olympic athletes, for a P&G ad that gained traction around the world on YouTube. “Thank you, Mom” is so universal in its connection for any person to appreciate the deep emotions connecting us with our own Moms. So unique and so effective in its execution, that today 2,845,000 have viewed it online. In Baltimore, Digital Craft is about the reinvention of the newspaper industry by connecting to the younger 25-45 year old demographic gravitating towards digital subscriptions. eROI and The Tribune Company began this shift by producing The Baltimore Sun – NFL Ravens campaign and within the first week of the campaign, digital subscriptions had increased over 50% from the same week the previous year. It was the research and the crafting of the digital message within the context of the end users world that cinched it. The Ravens winning the SuperBowl will help the campaign last 5 months instead of 5 weeks. It never hurts to get some outside factors for your digital craft to be enhanced.


Digital craft is rewarded by consumers like us who are smart enough to know what’s automated and what is truly unique and special. While brand advertisements on YouTube that have your own image and story woven into it by automatically pulling content from other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter truly means brands will need to adapt something unique to demonstrate the authentic permission and certain human-ness of this pulled content. Oreo captured this ethos by having a team of people ready to create something unique during the Superbowl. Their tweet of an image of an Oreo with the caption “You can still dunk in the dark” was the most shared and favored tweet of the Superbowl. In marketing today we are also on a massive communications playing field evolving through strategies and applications that bring failures, success, fumbling and learning. When it comes to digitally crafted marketing, humanly playful and personal seems to be the true win of the day.


Jody Turner is founder of Culture of Future, the brand strategy and marketplace consultancy influencing for future betterment via strategic insight applications. Jody has worked with IDEO, Nike, BMW, Apple, The Gapand others. Currently on the board of directors for the Empowerment Plan Detroit, Jody is also an advisor for Cria Global, the cause-driven branding group out of Rio, and the A+D Museum L.A. Jody is a long time partner with and speaks globally via the London group

Ryan Buchanan is CEO + founder of eROI, a digital marketing agency mixing creativity and strategic thinking with an emphasis on insight and data-driven optimization. Clients include Aramark, The Baltimore Sun, CBS,Columbia Sportswear, Conde Nast, Experticity, Intel, Lightspeed Retail, Nike, and ScienceLogic. Ryan is on the Board of Directors of the Portland Advertising Federation, Friends of the Children, and Entrepreneurs Organization. For more content see his blog post on Portland Craft and his presentation, Optimize Your Brand with Social Media.