There are some simple basics in marketing. Some are much more obvious than others. When you are creating a brand, rest assured that now days, the consumer, not you, is going to be at the helm of where your company will be going.
But you spent innumerable hours crunching numbers, looking at the data points for entry into the market, creating the buzz, utilizing the best gorilla marketing techniques that will certainly move your company to the next step. You did a geo-centric search, a user analysis and benefit, looked at your SWOT (and changed it) a few different times. The color psychology methodology, the placement, everything, it was laid out, intricately designed, planned to a tee. Then, you unleashed it to the consumer.
The Consumer Takes Control
No matter how well planned, how absolutely manicured, or completely orchestrated, what you put forth is not the final decision of who/what your brand will be. The consumer has now taken back control of how a company is perceived. No Ogilvy magic in the world will change that, it may influence it, but no, my dear marketer, it will not change what the final decisions of your customer base will be.
Marketing, public relations, and advertising has now gone ‘back to basics’, much to the chagrin of some, who perceive that all they need to do is foist their ideology of the brand onto the consumer, and they will take the bait. There was once a time, a long, long time ago, in which the triumvirate of branding (Marketing, advertising and PR) worked in tandem with one another. More so out of necessity, because without one perspective, the others failed. Wait. Dear lord, you mean that it’s morphed back to that?
Yes, it has. Today’s economy, combined with a far more intelligent consumer, wielding a far stronger set of tools to disseminate the real bargains, the nuances of your brand’s being, they are deciding what they want, when they want it, and how they will get it.
With that being said, I humbly submit my summer reading suggestion to you: “Brand Hijack: Marketing Without Marketing”, written by Alex Wipperfurth (2005).
Just as I have laid out to you that our consumers are now savvy, I also would say that Wipperfurth was a man ahead of his time in certain regards. This book was PUBLISHED ten (10) years ago, before the now more common phrase ‘social influencer’ came about. Hell, Zuck was still messing around with the name of his company at this point, and Twitt-What? Wipperfurth saw the movement of allowing a brand to be created, and then allowing the consumer to take over the brand. It’s really not a unique perspective in some circles, but there is so much more going on, a greater effort on the part of the marketer that needs to take place.
The Guiding Force
There’s a gentle guiding that goes along with allowing your brand to be ‘hijacked’, and while there won’t be spoilers to the book, I can’t emphasize enough that your brand needs to be not only a ‘listening’ brand, but a responsive one as well. Responsive, you say? Oh, we tweet, post, and DM back to comments. We have programs that we utilize to ‘listen’ for buzz so that we can capitalize on it, or move it back in the direction that it need to be going. Those tend to be more knee jerk reactions. Today those silos of old need to be broken down; integration is needed now, more than ever before. The marketer cannot succeed without being a salesman, public relations has no backing without the footwork of sales, and sales has no voice without marketing and public relations. They have become, once again, inextricably linked to one another.
There’s a nuance to getting your brand ‘hijacked’. Some psychology, as well as serious marketing chops that are needed utilizing all that data that you’ve been accumulating over the years. You don’t lose total control of the brand, you foster the perception, the being of what that will look like to the consumer still, but it is marketing without blasting ads, which, by the way, Millennials are turned off by ads.
Yes, my dear marketing friend (or the C level suite that needs to fund the footmen to do the real work ahead) you need to have boots on the ground, head in the air, and arms around the fact that you are going to be working harder than ever to make certain that your brand becomes ‘hijacked’. Marketing has reverted back to not only to listening to the customer, but embracing what they want your brand to be to them.