There is a famous English idiom which says that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

While we hope that this is not derived from the actual practice of skinning cats, the most popular thought pattern is that the idiom suggests that there is more than one way to approach solving a problem.

This is particularly important in the business world where companies fight furiously for profitability in order to get a leg up on their competition. Marketing is traditionally the best way to achieve this, and technology is playing its part.

A blended approach

A recent article on suggests that blending online and offline marketing campaigns are the best way to achieve this.

The article points out that China’s largest service-focused e-commerce platform Meituan-Dianping is adding a new term to the ever-expanding marketing vocabulary: Co-Line Marketing.

“We help businesses effectively implement an integrated marketing strategy leveraging our resources to target the right consumers and convert advertising to local experiences to purchases,” Chuan Zhang, senior vice president of Meituan-Dianping and president of its Lifestyle & Entertainment (previously “In-Store Others”) Business Group said in a press release.

Called game-changing, the new platform aims to offer merchants and brands a new platform that is both online and offline. It will be powered by big data, programmatic advertising and location-based service (LBS), and allows its users to access geo-localized consumer profiles. It will allow CMOs to precisely target their customers across Meituan-Dianping’s 260 million annual active buying customers.

“This is the most efficient marketing technology that finally allows merchants and brands to benefit from the digital revolution. With both our dining service matrix and lifestyle & entertainment services matrix, we are delivering more diverse value propositions for the services industry and facilitating the transformation of businesses into a seamlessly unified online and offline model,” Zhang said.

Going beyond

The article adds that Co-Line Marketing differs from other e-commerce platforms in its ability to help merchants and brands to go beyond online habits and behaviour. By including offline behaviour, it offers a complete picture of the user behaviour 24 hours.

The platform offers new possibilities for e-commerce CMOs looking to drive more sales in an increasingly saturated market. It allows them to use online advertising to drive offline experiences. The firm hopes that this will improve loyalty, increase online brand affinity and improve the number of return customers.

A straightforward approach

According to the press release, the new Co-Line Marketing platform will be readily available to merchants and brands through a straightforward and user-friendly interface. It will help them to accurately identify customer locations and use big data gathered from all of Meituan-Dianping’s verticals to analyse customers’ local lifestyles.

Harbin Beer, for example, was able to locate beer lovers and engage with them directly with promotions tailored to their lifestyles and preferences, like recommending nearby “Harbin Beer restaurants” with bonuses for the first purchase.

HQ Education, an accounting education company based in Shanghai, used the Meituan-Dianping’s platform in 2017 to reach a customer conversion rate of 39%, considerably higher than any other platforms.

belVita Breakfast Biscuit launched a sampling campaign in Beijing and Shanghai using the platform’s extensive restaurant database to identify 200 coffee shops and stores that are popular among the desired breakfast crowd. Customers were invited to scan a unique QR code and complete a survey for free samples. By partnering with Meituan-Dianping, belVita was able to reduce the campaign cost by 75%.

The thousand word approach

Another famous English idiom – this timeless macabre – says that a picture can paint a thousand words. Another recent article on suggests that incorporating imagery into marketing campaigns can be beneficial.

The article points out that we currently exist in an all-consuming visual interchange, where visuals rule as the language of the 21st century. Photos, graphics, and videos are now integral to our daily life, led by smartphones, and fuelled by the changing way we consume and interact with media.

The main catalysts for change have come through social media and apps such as Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram where consumers spare time endlessly scrolling and browsing photos and videos.

Shifting mindsets

As a result, expectations for how images look has shifted, and consumers in Hong Kong now seek out authenticity in images, by way of photos that feel real, relatable and regional.

Brands and content marketers globally are taking note. Campaigns are becoming more authentic and real, “street casting” is used more often (as opposed to hiring professional models) and more photographers are shooting with a reportage-style candid aesthetic.

What does this mean for brand imagery?
The article adds that there are a few implications of this that exist:

– Transparency & Openness: Company values are important factors in building a visual brand. We have found that the images our customers search for have changed as prevailing values have changed. Transparency and openness are highly regarded across all industries. These new values are represented via meetings and people at desks being shot from an observational viewpoint, through glass doors and windows;

– Show Me Innovation: As the services and expertise that businesses offer evolve, the language that is used to search for imagery online is changing too. The keywords our customers in Hong Kong are using to search represent trickier concepts to visualize: inspiration, planning, creativity, innovation, ideas;

– The New Leader: The vision of the business leader is changing. The experienced trustworthy executive portrait is an old favourite, but the new executive is more creative – fewer power suits, more individual styling;

– Social Media Aesthetic: Use your social media to your advantage. Research what visual media your market likes to look at. Chances are it is similar to your own preferences. Start to build your visual brand around what you are drawn to personally;

– Re-picture Fatherhood: Today, mothers and fathers are just as likely to share work and childcare responsibilities. Single parents, gay couples and hands-on dads are core markets. A business has broader relevance if it does not rely on traditional stereotypes;

– Hipsters have taken Over: Hipsters continue to inspire many a trend that has made their way into popular culture. Beards, bikes, monochrome clothing, wooden desks and real coffee are the touchstones of the creative business;

– Colour it in: Your industry might have a dominant colour palette. Are you conforming to that trend or bucking it? The choice is yours. The trend is towards using colours in an extraordinary way to create interest, breaking colour conventions and using unnatural colour combinations;

– Your perspective: Think about how you look at the world. Do you think about the bigger picture? Do you love the detail? Do you offer an overview? Bring your viewpoint into the photography you choose. Searching by viewpoint is simple to do and brings a fresh look to your imagery.

As the visual world is rapidly changing, it has never been more important to deliver the imagery consumers are looking for. Although the world around us may be transient, one thing is for certain; imagery in 2017 is proving to be more interesting and innovative than ever before.

Your brand is your voice – use it. Learn about information mailers and how they can assist your business.