Marketing in 2013 and beyond will not be about the number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes you have, or the really cool app you develop, or the YouTube video you produce in the hope it will “go viral”.
Of course these are nice tangible measures to show off in quarterly reports and they might actually be relevant in some way to your business, but they’re merely the sideshow.
The main game is about staying fresh, vital, relevant and respected in a hyperconnected marketplace that’s increasingly being driven by the empowered many, at the expense of the privileged few.
Today’s digitally-savvy consumer prefers peer opinion over media commentary, and values user-generated content ahead of advertising messages. They don’t like your hype and they care even less for your spin. They want companies to be open and active participants in the community and on the social web – not the closed and impenetrable beasts they have traditionally been.
Intensity of connection
Building your brand in 2013 will increasingly hinge on the intensity of the connection you have with the people who matter the most to the success of your business (or cause, or issue, if you’re a non-profit).
It’s easy to say, but difficult to do. True connection with consumers and market influencers can’t be bought. It needs to be earned. And earning people’s respect and trust requires genuine, sustained effort – in particular it needs to be driven by a company’s leadership team. And it cannot be achieved without showing your face, without being front and centre as real human beings, adding value, being useful, being interesting, and interested in others.
Sorry, but commissioning an expensive new whiz-bang ad campaign won’t cut it.
What can senior executives do?
You can start by standing up and leading the way by embracing social technologies that help tear down the walls that exist between the corporation and the public, to actively foster genuine human interaction with people – customers, employees and influencers.
Here are eight things you can do to kick off the new year on a positive note by helping to make your company more accessible:
1. Write regular blog posts (without any hint of jargon or gobbledygook language) that humanise the business and appeal to a real external audience, not geared towards your fellow executives internally;
2. Use iPhones or Flipcams to document what’s happening in the world of the C-suite. What exciting things are you doing you can tell the world about?;
3. Instigate the development of a company-produced podcast series (or video webcast) and then participating in it from time to time;
4. Challenge the marketing team to create a series of downloadable free PDF ebooks that help solve customer needs;
5. Create a think-tank with competitors to address a particular issue confronting your industry;
6. Organise a seminar that demonstrates your company’s expertise on a particular topic. Give your knowledge away freely, film the event and distribute it over the net;
7. Sit down and chat over coffee with bloggers and “power tweeters” who are interested in the industry in which you operate;
8. Identify the experts within your organisation and give them the imprimatur (and the tools and training) to tell their story and share their expertise and ideas with the broader marketplace using the plethora of social media tools available.
All of these activities require real people to participate. Don’t be some faceless persona hidden away in the boardroom shadows. Get involved! Challenge your senior colleagues.
Throw the gauntlet down to the marketing and PR teams. Empower your people to come up with ideas using social technologies that will help incrementally connect your brand with the marketplace in a useful and respectful way.
In 2013, the companies that open up, provide genuine value over and above their products and services, and super-importantly, add a human dimension to their marketing and communications, are the brands that will get noticed and be talked about in a positive way.
Then, who knows? Your story might start resonating with the same people who have been ignoring your company for years.