Adland Should Do More, And Say Less
Who’d be a brand manager or marketer these days? Long gone are the simple days when, as George Orwell once put it, you’d “rattle your stick inside a swill bucket” (sic) and people would turn up in their droves to buy your product or use your service.
Not anymore. The fragmentation of media, the proliferation of digital, and the resulting sophistication of modern audiences have put paid to that.
Marketers find themselves in a world where brands are no longer built by marketing communications alone. Nowadays traditional techniques are expensive and their power is decreasing. One-to-one techniques are maxed out. Digital, supposedly the great enabler, has brought as much confusion as it has opportunity. And social channels have only accelerated the power that lies in the hands of a hyper-connected consumer.
To add to this confusion, established businesses can be usurped within a matter of months. Brands like Nokia, the London Black Cab and music shop HMV can be hurt hard by better, faster and more relevant businesses such as Apple, Uber and Spotify alike.
And to top it off, one of the most influential guys on the planet is a 25 year old Swedish gamer that very few Brand Managers (or agency folk for that matter) will have even heard of, despite his 9.4bn views and 38m subscribers on YouTube. Search for ‘Pewdiepie’ and practise your “Brofist!”...
So you see, confusion reigns when it comes to the investment of a Marketers precious marketing dollar.
But fear not Mr Brand Manager or Marketing Executive, there is a common denominator across the brands and business that are making headway in the modern comms world today.
This common denominator exists amongst the brands that consumers are readily adopting and sharing, loving, and shouting-from-the-rooftops about – and it’s the acceptance of the need to move away from the old world techniques of ‘demand creation’ and move towards those techniques that offer genuine ‘value creation’ for their audiences instead.
Here a business creates a long-term meaningful connection with its audience because it thinks less about creating demand for its product through shiny marketing techniques (the ‘saying’) and instead invests seriously in creating this shared value by identifying the area of focus and then providing things like relevant tools, content and applications or just good old fashioned product and service enhancements (the ‘doing’).
This is the less about me, more about you approach that works best when we develop real relationships, person to person.
For Nike this is easy. Need to sell running shoes to an urban audience? No problems - forget advertising and put on ‘Run London’, an annual running event where urbanites buy new (Nike) trainers and drag themselves around a 10K circuit.
But what about for regular brands such as many FMCG’s? It is harder but it’s still very possible to create that meaningful connection. You only need to look at what brands such as Danone’s ‘Actimel’ are doing with their ‘Family Wellbeing Index’ to understand that. They clearly understand their customers and their needs, and have found a natural, valuable role to play within their lives.
Good for Actimel. Great for their customers.
So the future of brands and business relies on their ability to identify and then invest heavily in that meaningful (and relevant) connection with their audience.