This 25-Year-Old Head of Digital Is Dropping Jaws in A Boardroom

by Tanya August 11, 2022
Shannon Osborne

It’s no surprise that Gen Z (those 18-25 years old) are best at marketing to Gen Z.

This is because it’s difficult to nail Gen Z marketing if you’re not part of the culture. Gen Z have different values and a very particular sense of humour. Watch this Youtube video about meta-irony, absurdity and nihilism to understand what I mean.

Tech-savvy, fearless and experimental Gen Z are exactly what digital industries need to grow.

Unlike older generations, Gen Z don’t limit themselves to ideas from the past. They have the confidence to test their hypothesis in real-world environments.

“The digital landscape is constantly changing, it’s good to try new things. If you’re doing the same as everyone else, it’s probably not going to work,” says 25-year-old Shannon Osborne, a Head of Digital at Osaka Labs.

It took Shannon only 3.5 years to go from Executive to Head Of level, which impressed me greatly.

So I sat down with her to understand what’s the secret to her success at a such young age.

Q1: As one of London’s youngest, digital masterminds impressing boardroom executives and working with some of the UK’s largest consumer brands, what do you think you do differently from your peers? What makes someone an exceptional marketer? What can others learn from you?

A1: I don’t limit myself to ideas from the past and what I/someone else achieved before. I believe that in some cases, those from older generations are limited by a lack of mental elasticity when it comes to navigating the always-evolving digital space. As times and trends change, boundaries need to be pushed, and new technologies need to be trusted and implemented.

Old-fashioned marketing ideas like events, magazine ads, and TV commercials are almost always a waste of money. Instead, we know that people look at their phones for about 8 hours a day and that this is the globally dominant method that people now interact with purchasing so brands need a marketing strategy that understands this space and can shift with it as it changes, sometimes as quickly as overnight.

Resilience is very important. As well as understanding that you’re going to get things wrong majority of the time – being able to accept falls & celebrate progressions with an educational perspective.

Q2: Do you feel like your young age and gender means you have to prove yourself much more you’re your older male counterparts?

A2: As a young female in a senior role, I feel that when I walk into a boardroom meeting, there’s added pressure to navigate the meeting differently. I have to work harder to prove to others that I fully understand the industry and can effectively undertake the technical, decision-making leadership roles that are most commonly held by older men.

I used to find presenting to a room full of powerful, older men intimidating but now I see it as a challenge and opportunity to be an outlier. I feel confident as I think I hold a competitive advantage as a Gen Z – having grown up with social media, the internet, and technology, my knowledge is almost second nature – I can adapt to the constant industry changes quickly.

Q3: Osaka Labs is known as a ‘Content Activation Agency’ – what does it mean exactly? How is it different from other creative digital content agencies?

A3: It means bringing stories to life in an inclusive, not intrusive way. We create relevant content for different audiences making sure they want to (not have to) interact with it. Our ads don’t feel like ugly advertisement on people’s newsfeed, it feels like something their friends would share.

We also make sure we have a spectrum of skills from coding and development sitting next to creative skill sets like design and creative strategy to better understand audiences – we try to relate people’s needs to the service in a real way.

Q4: What are the 3 new (and overlooked ways) to get Gen Z’s attention online right now? Ideally, something that not many people know about yet.

A4: Firstly, and most importantly, it’s getting Gen Z to fall in love with the personality of the brand. Personification is the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman. It’s basically humanisation of the brand and all the successful brands are doing it. Check out @Glossier and @Reformation on Instagram to understand what I mean. At Osaka Labs, we also work with influencers who embody the personality or vibe we are after. We also tap into sub-niches & adapt brands’ tone of voice accordingly.

Secondly, we also adapt to Gen Z attention span because you do have to get it pretty quickly. Attention has never been harder to earn – so we only create videos that get to the point & engage immediately.

And thirdly, we tap into their need to follow the crowd – create FOMO & hype with a deadline. This is especially important at the mid-funnel campaigns where our goal is to generate leads.

Q5: Osaka Labs are known for their impressive data dashboards which are freely shared with all clients 24/7. What type of data do you have and how do you organise/present it?

A5: What makes our data different is that it’s real-time and full funnel. This means we see how our campaigns are performing from awareness to consideration all the way to action stages. We can see how many people have seen our campaigns, how many people clicked on them, and what they did next.

Having all this data in real-time means we waste less money than other agencies on ads that don’t work. For example, if we start seeing that something isn’t working the way we anticipated, we adjust and change the ad. Real-time data means we can develop a deeper understanding of audiences way quicker than other agencies, wasting less money on trial & error.

In terms of data interpretation, we can tap into sales, social, website & internal behavior to collate that information into a cohesive story that is easily understandable to our clients.

About Osaka Labs

Founded in 2017, Osaka Labs is a Content Activation Studio based in Shoreditch, London.

Built for future-thinking businesses, they develop remarkable and trackable digital brand experiences from social to purchase.

To facilitate as much data sharing as possible, Osaka Labs build real-time customised dashboards for clients — sharing data to help them make better decisions together.

Osaka Labs spend considerable time educating their clients on what the data means – so they can understand what is working, and what isn’t.

Their approach has been selected by leading UK-based brands such as Fortnum & Mason, Yamaha, Pedigree Pal, and Wrigley’s.

The founder, Sam Gormley, is an advocate for change in the marketing industry – calling out for agencies to adopt better practices.

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The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

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