More progressive marketers are realizing that it’s not about what they say or how hard they sell, but more importantly, it’s about what they do inside the company and how they create value exchanges with consumers who in turn create advocacy for the brand.
Today, as ever, the recommendations of influential friends are the most powerful form of communication and that reality is in hyper-drive with social media. And so it’s no wonder that brands and their agency partners are re-evaluating strategies because the new reality is that brands must imbed a better story into the product and service as well as their corporate culture. The days of talking a good game and delivering empty taglines are surely numbered when consumers are one click away from the truth.
In some circles, industry observers are calling this transformation the move to marketing as a service. The new marketing puts the focus on consumers and value exchanges over traditional spin. And today, brand differentiation needs to be achieved through tangible ways that create real customer benefit.
Here are some examples of brands that are getting it right:
Domino’s Pizza: Domino’s research told them they had a problem. Their pizza didn’t taste very good. So Domino’s set out to make better pizza by experimenting with new recipes and better ingredients. When they created that better pizza their TV campaign fessed up and told people they hadn’t made the best pizza but asked for another chance. People tried the better pizza and told others about it. Then Domino’s created an app that allows faster and easier ordering and the ability to tell exactly when their pizza will be done. Now Domino’s is profiting nicely from an improved and differentiated product and service.
IBM: Not long ago, “big blue” stood as the poster child for safe and stuffy corporate America. But in an era of big data, IBM has created a mission and captured it nicely with a brand platform of “creating a smarter planet”. So IBM are solving critically important problems like traffic congestion and crime and using the platform to challenge their people to create ideas that are of service to humanity. Indeed, staffers must even show how their ideas help create a smarter planet when presenting their work. That’s brand glue from the top-to bottom and inside-out. And that’s an interesting IBM that some of the best and brightest want to work for.
Warby Parker: Launched in 2010, Warby Parker has quickly grown into a nice start-up success. Warby challenged the paradigm of high-priced eyeglasses (normal frames/prescriptions sell for less than $100) by designing their own frames in-house and eliminating middle-men. Warby sells direct to consumers by allowing five frames to be sampled at home in a low-pressure environment for five days. Warby also supplies frames to needy individuals at a reduced price for every pair sold. As such, Warby has looked at the customer value proposition and created a very compelling offer.
Red Bull: Perhaps no other brand has done more for the branded content movement than Red Bull. The high octane energy drink is less about spinning the Red Bull brand and far more about creating high-energy content for high energy youth. As such, Red Bull is providing value with bespoke entertainment that can’t be found anywhere else. The Red Bull space jump alone grabbed over 36 million You Tube hits as it told a bold and daring story of breaking the world sky-diving record. Coming soon will be the world’s most daring ski and boarding movie entitled Days of my Youth. Red Bull’s deal is an exchange of value made possible by their cool brand.
Going forward, there is considerable opportunity for marketers to anticipate consumer needs and wants while leveraging new technology to create better products and experiences. As an example, Nissan has been engaging consumers in product co-design projects and just announced last week that they intend to re-invent the customer sales and service experience with real-time satisfaction feedback.
There is no question that marketing as a service can create brand differentiation and enhanced loyalty for innovative marketers. But to get there we will all need to clean out our closets a bit and make room for some new styles. And we also need to see that brands are as much internal and cultural as they are external and promotional and we need to create organizations that have the customer and value creation at the center of everything they do.
By: Kevin Smith, Founder & Principal, brandmachine