Mid-way through our presentation, he asked a very direct question about whether or not it would be a smart idea to put his brand ‘in the hands’ of his customers – whether they are evangelists or not. In other words, this struck him as not just unusual, but also fairly risky. Naturally, we said we had ample evidence that this new marketing paradigm was producing very good results for a number of forward-thinking brands. We then presented a number of specific examples such as Red Bull, Adidas, Victoria’s Secret Pink, Barefoot Wines, Apple and Blendtec.
After the meeting, I realized that my perspective was substantially different than his, and this is why: I’ve been in marketing my entire professional life. I’ve always approached brands from the customer’s perspective. So today, giving consumers a chance to be heard on social media is a natural extension of what smart branding has always been about.
The early adopters of social media are leading the way right now. What they understand is their brands have essentially always been in the hands of their customers. The only difference now is, it’s much more public.
Here’s a great current example: Ford just launched a microsite devoted to that car: http://www.fiestamovement.com It’s a program of 100 ‘agents’ selected from 4,000 who wanted to take part. The brilliant idea here is the site wraps their Twitter feeds right onto the home page. So it becomes a massive, ongoing blog about their actual experiences with the car.
So is there some risk involved here? Of course there is. (What if everyone says the car simply sucks?) However, Ford understood that the bigger risk is to simply try and promote their cars with traditional methods, which simply aren’t working anymore. Or at least nowhere near the way they used to. Which means that social media is the smarter marketing investment – especially to gain position during a recession.
We believe the only question today is, when is your brand coming on board?