Written by Mary Tarczynski
A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune of participating in the first annual Hub Brand Experience Symposium in New York City. I was amazed at how many great brands now incorporate customer-generated content and blog marketing into their marketing plans, all in ways very unique to their brand.
In her Sept 16 blog post, Holly Pavlika shared examples from Mark –Hans Richer, Harley Davidson’s CMO, on how brand inconsistency can actually help build brands among very diverse target groups. In contrast, Mary Beech shared very consistent marketing examples from Kate Spade New York, a strong “live colorfully” brand voice that permeates everything from internal culture to handbags to “staff picks” to playlists. What was common among the two? Real conversation, real time, every day.
Paul Kramer of Catapult reminded us of the age-old balance between the “art and science” of advertising. While functional benefits have a role in brand definition and communication it’s the emotional connection that creates lasting brand value. The campaign of feeding the shelter dogs far surpassed the results of their earlier more “scientific” approach to Pedigree dog food creative that focused on dietary needs and functional benefits of the ingredients. Shopper connection and social sharing of these stories further strengthened the emotional bond.
Marc Speichert from L’Oreal (3rd biggest advertiser in the US) presented several examples from the beauty category which is perfect for customer “how to” video sharing. In fact one of their highly followed YouTube influencers, a 25-year-old named Michelle Phan, now has her own line of products. L’Oreal also created an innovative Facebook toolkit to assist small salon partners in connecting with their customers. The toolkit includes a salon finder and appointment-booking tool along with L’Oreal company product info.
Mark Addicks of General Mills said their mantra is for brands to be remarkable, as in “worthy of remark.” Does the brand make you want to tell someone else about it? While some brand attributes, like Betty Crocker who has always helped make a house a home, are timeless, others like pursuits and activities should be timely – connecting and adding value in today’s rapidly changing multicultural world.
Stephanie Gallo of E&J Gallo showed us how Barefoot Wine rocketed to number one in the US via local community brand ambassadors who simply started talking about and sampling the brand among their friends and interest groups, making wine less elitist and more approachable for all.
Of course no marketing conference in this era would be complete without a discussion on big data and how we are still not taking full advantage of listening and targeting opportunities. One team doing this well is NASCAR. CMO Steve Phelps talked about their Charlotte Based Social Command Center. The Center is staffed with 3 employees 10 hours a day so they can immediately analyze and respond to all fan conversations. This is centered on their unifying NASCAR marketing theme of “driver star power,” showcasing these homegrown heroes and connecting them with their fans.
You don’t need a high tech destination to get started. Simply start listening to the conversation and jump in. Customers want real relationships with brands, they will reward your brand’s authenticity and transparency with their loyalty.