So here it is: Social Brands: The Future Of Marketing.
Please do let me know what you think once you’ve had a read, and feel free to share the PDF with everyone you think might find it useful.
a collection of things worth sharing
Too much marketing takes a ‘one-night stand’ approach to building relationships.
The brand does all it can to get people’s attention – to seduce and woo them – only to ignore them the morning after.
But most of us already know that such an approach rarely establishes meaningful, long-term relationships.
Sooner or later, no matter how clever the tagline, or how single-minded the big idea, successful brands need to progress from courtship to a relationship.
And that requires a different approach.
It needs regular, two-way communication.
It needs compromise and understanding.
It needs trust.
And all of those require something more than a flashy new campaign every few months.
Sure, they’re a big part of courtship, but courtship is just the beginning.
Moving from lust to love requires us to show our audiences attention; not just for them to give it to us.
Let’s get serious.
It was awe-inspiring.
I’d always admired his DJ sets – the way he managed to move so seamlessly from one track to the next.
But this performance was different.
Until that night, I’d been used to hearing him select a series of great tunes and play them one after the other, with no obvious disharmony or rhythmic mismatch.
But from the very start of that set, it was clear something was different.
I couldn’t tell where one tune began and where it ended.
The mood and power of the set still built and progressed, but the music all blurred together into a dreamy sequence of beats and melodies.
He was playing small bits of different tracks wherever and whenever he chose.
He looped small sections of a record – sometimes just single bars – for minutes at a time, tweaking effects and EQ to build the emotion until the crowd were in a trance.
He was chopping up tunes to create new versions and even new music, right there in the DJ booth.
And suddenly, in one night, my view of DJing changed.
It was like Sasha had put his tunes into a blender, rather than merely putting slices of them next to each other on a plate.
I subsequently discovered that he’d achieved this in large part thanks to new technology – namely Ableton Live and a bespoke Maven controller – but that didn’t change the impact of that set (indeed, I became an instant convert to Ableton, and use it to create my own studio sets)
Sasha had totally changed the game.
It was about using everything at the DJ’s disposal to create the perfect musical journey for that club and that crowd.
The records, the turntables, the mixer, the effects… they all became mere means to the single, coherent end of delivering the ultimate club experience.
I think we’re about to witness the same kind of shift in marketing.
Until recently, marketers have been been perfecting the existing paradigm.
We’ve incrementally improved our approach to the 4Ps.
And we’re pretty good at it now: our beatmatching is pretty tight, we know which melodic keys work with which others, and we can navigate the mixer with our eyes closed.
We’ve pretty much mastered the marketing mix, and differentiation now comes down to who has access to the latest or rarest tunes.
But what if we took Sasha’s approach and applied it to marketing?
What if we saw all those marketing Ps as fluid ingredients that we can blend together to create a truly seamless journey?
We’ve recognised the potential of integrated communications for some years now, but few (big) brands succeed in integrating the full spectrum of their marketing activities.
But maybe that’s missing the magic.
Rather than merely integrating communications across channels, brands could integrate everything they do – the full marketing mix – into a single, holistic approach.
We’ve seen a few examples of this already.
The Domino’s example from last year was an interesting communication and distribution.
Similarly, this initiative from Gap uses a sales channel to communicate a clearly defined message and inspire immediate action at the same time.
However, I’m not sure any of them has achieved that totally seamless mix.
But it’s only a matter of time…
We all know that actions speak louder than words.
But many brands still focus the majority of their marketing spend on talking.
It’s time to redress the balance.
Advertising does a good job of telling people things.
That’s fine if we want to raise a bit of awareness.
However, advertising frequently behaves like the pseudo-tailors in ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes‘.
This clip sums up the reality of far too much marketing:
But in today’s hyperconnected communities, this ‘massive hyperbole’ approach no longer works.
No amount of advertising will make a bad product good.
It’s just too easy for people to spot a ‘naked’ brand, and to tell everyone else about it too.
More often than not, advertising isn’t the answer.
People want proof; not just claims.
So how can planning help?
We need to broaden our perspective.
We need to help brands understand what people really want, and then to identify the most profitable ways of delivering it to them.
We need to add value, from end to end: from informing R&D to inspiring customer service.
If we give people what they really want, we won’t need to persuade them of anything; they’ll experience it for themselves.
Allocate a minimum of 90% of your brand’s resource to identifying what people really want, and creating a solution that delivers it.
Use the remainder to demonstrate your brand experience to the people who are most passionate about its benefit.
If you’ve done the first bit right, they’ll do the rest for you.
Throughout this series on planning for the future, there’s been a recurring theme: how we can add real value.
If planning is to remain relevant, its role must evolve from promoting brands to actually delivering their benefits.
The new planning manifesto is simple:
Introduction: a new planning manifesto
Use communications to deliver value: moving from advertising to adding value
It’s all about the benefits: a simple example of how to deliver a brand’s core benefit with a TV ad
Add CSR to everything you do: how contributing to the greater good can help your brand too
Blend the mix: towards more strategic distribution
Want to know more about planning for the future? Get in touch here.