March 17, 2011 in Communication Ideas
Marketing is about creating the connection.
I first heard this minimalistic definition from Ean Brown of Pentland Brands, and I’m slowly growing into understanding what he meant. “The connection” is what exists between a brand and those who interact with it (consumers, partners, etc.).
The connection is:
- emotional bond
- ambassadorship (creating connections on behalf of the brand)
While the list is not complete, you get the idea. Over the years, marketers have developed a clever set of tools and processes to create and measure these kinds of connections. You can create awareness (and to some extend other forms of connection) by developing a TV spot with your ad agency and blasting it at your target audience enough times. Then you look at the number of transactions and ask your market research agency for consumer feedback based on your objectives, do some numbers and proclaim this “connection creation” campaign either a success or failure. Repeat. This stuff is easy, so where’s the catch?
Connections are not created equal
The catch is that connections are not created equal. A consumer who loves a brand so much that she raves about it on social media is way more valuable than one who is merely aware. One brand ambassador can create many powerful connections on behalf of the brand at no additional cost. Creating awareness doesn’t scale. Creating brand ambassadors does.
With the traditional connection creation approaches (think TV, Radio, Outdoor, on-line banners, etc.), it’s almost impossible to create relationship-grade connections, let alone brand ambassadors. Social media changes the game. In Gary Vaynerchuk’s book The Thank You Economy (affiliate link, idea review coming soon), he explains how remarkable (in Seth Godin’s sense of the word – worth making a remark about) interactions with consumers on-line and off-line have the power to create strong connections that scale. Companies such as Zappos have learned that remarkable interactions have an element of virality built in, and the story tends to spread naturally. By creating a powerful connection with one consumer, a brand can simultaneously build earned connections with others.
Marketing is about creating connections. Marketing art is about creating the valuable kind that scales – strong relationships to the point where consumers become brand ambassadors. Today, the best way to go about it is to engage in remarkable interactions and leverage their virality via social media. This stuff is hard work, but immensely more efficient (and fun then the old model. Isn’t it great to be in marketing today?