The '70/20/10 Rule' and Why You Need It

Rolling Out the 'Next New Thing' From Testing Grounds to Marketplace

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If you're a brand guardian, you're likely worried about your digital marketing. You've read the news about how aggressively some brands are following and engaging people in their digitally led lives. You see the headlines about the "next hot technology." You attend various conferences on the subject and, in a hushed corner at one of these events, you might confess that the subject keeps you up at night.

You're not alone if you constantly worry about the following questions: Are my competitors living and learning? Is my brand falling behind and becoming less relevant? Am I missing a huge opportunity?

At Leo Burnett/ Arc Worldwide, we know that one of our roles is easing the confusion and frustration a marketer might feel when approaching the digital domain. We call it the "70/20/10 Rule," and it's meant to map all the things you could do with your brand and put those possibilities into a structured approach that drives business. Specifically, it aims to help a marketer roll out "the next new thing" from a testing environment to a sophisticated marketplace.

So how does this really work? First off, take your digital-marketing budget (not your overall marketing budget) and divide it into three buckets: one with 70% of your money and two others with 20% and 10%, respectively.


The first (and largest) segment of your budget should be applied to the meat and potatoes of your plans -- the things you most likely have been implementing for one to two years. These include digital activities such as broadband video, rich media/video-based ads and search marketing. These activities enjoy a proven record of results, and this is where you can continue to refine your record of success.


Apply the next 20% to media that have just gone mainstream or are on the verge of doing so. This category includes mobile marketing, social networks and certain types of gaming. These activities are valuable because they provide a good intellectual-growth opportunity to try new areas -- even within tactics you may already be running. They may not drive huge outcomes this month or even this quarter, but they will set up your future plans and keep you ahead of the competition.


What about opportunities that pop up frequently and quickly attract media attention? Virtual worlds immediately come to mind. With the last 10% of your budget, we suggest not focusing on ROI or any real sense of outcomes that will drive your business forward today. Set the stage for future investments and marketing plans by testing digital areas that even consumers themselves aren't quite sure about yet. It's a learn-while-they-learn approach -- or, as we'll call it, a "real-time marketing opportunity" assessment.

If you invest in these types of technologies early on, you'll benefit from increased flexibility if and when they rapidly emerge as the next hot thing. Consider this 10% marketing insurance, if you will.

Leo Burnett/Arc saw an opportunity for Nestlé Purina PetCare to partner with Joost -- a company with an innovative approach to TV, video and the internet -- to test specific areas where video-based messaging meets addressable or direct marketing. We took available TV content from the Purina Incredible Dog Channel and made it into a branded channel on Joost. This was a great way to reuse existing professional content, and it added to our two-year test of placing video content on iTunes and mobile channels.

So there you have it: all of your digital marketing dilemmas solved so you can rest easy. Hardly, but if nothing else, the 70/20/10 approach provides a framework for where to invest your time and money in the digital space. By using it, you can quickly bucket opportunities and ideas and apply them to your overall marketing and business goals.

It also gives you a unique way to answer that inevitable "What's your digital strategy?" question.
Mark Renshaw is exec VP-digital practice lead at Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide and a renowned digital-marketing expert.
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