Please bear with me. I need to remind you of some of the accepted basics before I try to make my point.
In Marketing 101 we learn that the key to successful marketing is for a Brand to have a clear, quite distinct Positioning which expresses its Benefit, along with a unique Identity which distinguishes it from its competitors.
The Positioning must be relevant to how targets view the category. The Benefit must be based on insights into what the targets need or want. The Identity and how it, the Benefit and the Positioning are expressed in Marketing Communications all need to work in harmony, informed by insights into how the targets consume Media.
The result is that targets should recognize how our Brand is different from competitors in our category, will see clearly how using our Brand will Benefit them and that they will remember what our Brand looks like and stands for when next they are in the market for the good or service we sell. All this is revealed to them through wisely crafted Marketing Communications efficiently transmitted to them through a cost efficient selection of Media.
Some time in the near future this is going to sound delightfully quaint when a museum docent is lecturing on marketing history. Why?
We’ve Started Finding & Switching Brands Through Our Social Graph.
The most powerful marketing medium has always been Word Of Mouth (WOM). We generally distrust commissioned salesmen, in person or in the media, but we trust our friends with whom we share a vested interest in mutual safety and happiness.
(Apologies. This is blurry on the WordPress page. Click the image for a crisp view in your browser.)
Now with the social media at our disposal we can very quickly tell our friends, who tell their other friends while people we don’t know at all find our comments through a hashtag and so on and so on… Good news, or bad, it gets out there quickly and with no brakes, parachutes or warnings.
Your Customers As First Line Brand Advocates.
Your brands have always been represented by the very people you are marketing to, whether they speak well, or ill, of your brands. The difference is that now they can tell the world in 5 minutes with a couple of clicks. iWOM.
What they say gets reposted or re-tweeted and soon you have more reach and frequency than you ever imagined. All un-paid for. Earned media. You have no control over the content of those messages once they are out there, but you can build a good foundation to limit the amount of problems you could end up with.
Your Staff, Colleagues & The ‘Net Promoter Score’.
How you recruit and treat your staff and how you engage them with your brands through Internal Marketing needs to become a key part of your earned media marketing strategy. So is loosening up your company’s rules about using social media at work.
Several companies including very large and famous ones have started to use the Net Promoter Score as a measure of how the company is doing. It works like this.
A survey is done throughout the company, anonymously, and it asks only one simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” The answer is a rating on a scale from 0 to 10. There is a strong positive correlation between high NPS scores and strong company financial performance.
Giving Everyone The Means To Market Your Brands
Your own staff and colleagues can be upgraded from responding to an internal NPS questionnaire to being part of your sales and marketing team because they are people first, before they are employees and they increasingly socialise and comment online.
Treat them well, educate them honestly and transparently about your brands, give them guidance on the verbal branding – the way your Brand speaks – and they will be able to contribute to, engage with and when necessary rebut anything they find online about your Brand. You won’t have to hire a “social media manager”, dump it on the intern or beg the CEO’s executive assistant.
The reality is, your staff and colleagues are going to do some of this anyway. Wouldn’t you be wiser to equip them properly?
There is one fundamental to all this and it comes down to your organization’s leadership and culture. Hire good people, treat them well, empower them to be Brand Advocates no matter what their job in the company, and you are off to a great start.
Treat them badly, lie to them about your brand, ignore the opportunity to make them online advocates and you deserve to suffer the consequences.
Remember, 5 minutes and couple of clicks is all it takes.