Back when I first started to work in the advertising industry, we understood the power emotions played in creating campaigns that would become part of popular culture and actually motivate people into action; be that to buy something, support something or alter social or professional behaviour. We did it by tapping into their emotional response mechanisms.
It was a time when psychology and sociology influenced ideas and brands were creating effective and iconic campaigns that frequently bridged the gap between art and sales in such a way that they took on a cultural relevancy that brands today, simply aren’t achieving.
People looked forward to the release of a new advertising campaign and friends would talk about their favourite ads in general conversation. Slogans became part of our everyday lexicon and brands actually achieved a love status. As much as digital has a place in youth culture, I’ve never once came home to find one of the children having printed out their favourite banner ad and stuck it on their wall.
However – the emotional purge perpetrated during the digital revolution saw many advertisers sacrifice this human connection between brand and consumer with the result that the media channels themselves have grown to become more important than the brands that are paying to advertise on them. People have stopped crafting brand stories and simply started to churn out emotionless content to fix little boxes on a little grid with little hope of any real engagement.
With many of the world’s most popular social media and search engines now being called out over manipulating their results, the question that many digital advertisers are having to ask is – just how effective is digital and have they been getting the results they were told they were?
For what it’s worth, my view is that digital can be genuinely effective, but brands need to be creating campaigns that people want to be exposed to in the first place and not just force fed. You can’t just bombard people in the hope of wearing them down. We need to create emotional connections with people again – be that making them happy, angry, sad or hopeful about a situation, product or service. When people feel, they act. Apathy is not an option. View digital as one of the many tools at your disposal and not the only one.
As mentioned earlier this week in one of our other posts, two of the most noteworthy campaigns of the past year were rooted in tangible experience that people could see and touch. They elicited real human emotions.
So whilst it might pain some of the digital evangelists out there to admit, we did know a thing or two about brand engagement pre www.
ABOUT: AS A MULTI-AWARD WINNING INTERNATIONAL ADVERTISING AND BRAND DESIGN CONSULTANCY, THE MISSION CONTROL COMMUNICATIONS AND DEDICATED SCIENCE AND HEALTHCARE STUDIO, THE MISSION DISCOVERY, WORKS WITH CLIENTS AND THEIR IN-HOUSE MARKETING TEAMS TO CREATE INTELLIGENT AND AGILE SOLUTIONS THAT EFFECTIVELY ENGAGE AUDIENCES IN TODAY’S DISRUPTIVE AND HIGHLY COMPETITIVE GLOBAL MARKETPLACE, ENABLING BRANDS TO THRIVE. WE WORK WITH BRANDS SPANNING SOME OF THE MOST TIGHTLY REGULATED SECTORS OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING IN THE WORLD, WITH FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES RANGING FROM – LIBERTY MUTUAL SURETY TO PHARMACEUTICAL, BIOTECH AND LIFE SCIENCE GIANTS. OUR WORK IS ROOTED IN SOUND INTELLIGENCE SUPPORTED BY A STRUCTURED SERVICES ARCHITECTURE THAT COMPLIMENTS CLIENT NEEDS ACROSS STRATEGY AND POSITIONING, ADVERTISING AND DESIGN, BRAND ORIGINATION AND EVOLUTION, PROJECT AND CAMPAIGN PLANNING, ENGAGEMENT AND ACTIVATION, AND INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CULTURAL ALIGNMENT. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT THEMISSIONCONTROL.COM AND FOLLOW THE MISSION CONTROL ON LINKEDIN, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.
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In this stunning series of illustrations by Felipe Luchi, we get to explore the other side of technology. The dark side that no one likes to talk about. The side in which we finally admit that we’re slaves to technology and prisoners to the gadgets we use.
Oh I know most of us will deny it, but can you imagine a day without your smart phone and all of the perks of Facebook, Twitter etc., etc.?
For starters, most of us would be late for work because who uses a traditional good old fashioned alarm clock these days. Nope. Without our phone to waken us up, most of us would sleep straight through GMTV and totally miss Aled and Lorraine on the sofa. ‘Drama’!
Now you’ve skipped breakfast so you can check your Tweets and Facebook messages before leaving the house just incase you’ve missed anything of vital importance in those 6 hours you disconnected from the worldwide web and gave into that annoying base human need for sleep.
So now what?
Well you’ve made it to the station with your Rivita bar in hand and you’ve text Louise back on the way, narrowly missing getting knocked down by that rude driver who just wasn’t looking where you were going. You’ve ‘Liked’ three pictures of smiley cats and shared an image of some hotel room because you might win a weekend there for two and creepy Nigel from HR has ‘Liked’ every post you’ve made in the last 12 hours including the one about the weekend away for two – gulp!
He’s also tagged you in 57 shots on his Facebook from Saturday night when in a complete accident of fate he just happened to check in on Four Square in the exact same bar you and your friends met in 134 miles away. Who’d have thought when you were planning the night on Facebook that good old Nige would just happen to be in the area. It really is a small world.
Now you’ve cleverly avoided having to communicate with the ticket collector at the station by purchasing a digital ticket, which you flash as you head out onto the platform. Suddenly you hear something. Words. Something’s wrong. A recorded voice comes over the speaker to announce that the 6:15 has been delayed by 15 minutes. Cold sweet. What should you do? I suppose you could strike up a conversation with a fellow commuter, but that might mean having to use more than 140 letters. ‘OMG’ Nope can’t do that. Best text work and let them know you’re going to be late and then just to listen to some music on your phone whilst texting, tweeting and updating your profile on Facebook.
That’s much more ‘social‘ than talking to someone – isn’t it?
Relief. The train arrives. You find a seat and settle into a quick game of Angry Birds. A quick scan of your favorite sites and you’re there. Only two texts from Louise. Best send her an email when you get into work and maybe quickly find one of those ‘life goes on’ e-cards for her. Oh – Nige just started to ‘Follow’ you on Twitter and what’s that; oh he’s looking to ‘Connect’ with you on Linked In and joy, he’s updated his profile with one of the shots of you and him. Seriously – how many pictures did he take with his phone?
Congratulations. You’ve successfully made it to the office without making eye contact or uttering a single word to another living soul. Oh I do love ‘social’ media!
I really love this image. It’s one of those beautifully interpreted cultural observations that makes Banksy such an important visual commentator on our age. However, for me, the image symbolises much more than just the ‘Every Little Helps’ generation of BOGOFs and Club Card points; it symbolises the bubble that many brands are living in (not all, but some).
It captures the misguided and vein assumption some brands have that customers are ‘loyal’ patriots who have sworn an allegiance to their brand by hitting the ‘Like’ button on their Facebook page or following them on Twitter.
They forget or ignore the fact that the person that just hit ‘Like’ on their Facebook page has probably also just hit the ‘Like’ button and ‘Share’ button on the picture of their nan’s dancing cat.
Yet many brands still see the number of ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’ they have as a measure of commercial success and proof of a meaningful ‘relationship’ with ‘loyal’ customers. Some even dare call it a successfully social media strategy until you bring up the thorny question of customer retention, repeat sales and how many of those ‘Likes’ actually translated into hard cash or meaningful engagement that extends beyond the generic ‘hello’ across the room.
You see; the truth of the matter is that your consumers, both online and offline are simply someone else’s consumers who occasionally buy your brand. In one survey, 77% of people said they didn’t have a relationship with a brand. In another, 72% of Pepsi drinkers admitted to also drinking Coca-Cola and I’d have to admit to being one of them.
So what’s causing the confusion? Are we in a meaningful relationship or not?
I suppose in its simplest and most human of terms, you could say that if a brand were to sit down over a coffee and have a chat with the vast majority of consumers, the conversation would go something like this:
[BRAND X] We’re great together, aren’t we?
[CONSUMER] Actually – I only came over because I thought you had something for me.
[BRAND X] But I thought you ‘Liked’ me?
[CONSUMER] I did. But that was then. This is now.
[BRAND X] But I thought we had something special?
[CONSUMER] Look – we’re just in different places.
[BRAND X] But I counted you as being one of my best friends. I’ve told everyone at work all about you.
[CONSUMER] You’re taking this way to serious. I think we should see other people. Bye.
(At this point the consumer gets up and leaves you to pick up the bill.)
OK – so maybe this is an over simplified explanation and a little harsh. But I’ve seen too many companies falling into the trap of misinterpreting the meaning of the word ‘relationship’. They take it literally and try to humanise it. But the reality of the matter is that brand relationships are nothing like human relationships even though we are increasingly using the same communications channels that we’d use to keep in touch with our family and friends.
As much as we’d all love to think that our brands’ Facebook and Twitter followers are loyal friends and stalwart advocates just sitting waiting to hear from us, you only have to watch an episode of Jeremy Kyle to work out that Facebook isn’t the forum for forming loyal relationships – even in the real world.
It’s a forum more given to opportunity than commitment. And for brands, that opportunity is to flirt with someone else’s consumers and invite them over with the promise of something worthwhile. Yes I know that sounds a little seedy, but the number one reason why people say they interact with companies via social media is to get a discount. I suppose that would explain the success of all those annoying websites that compare prices on everything from hotel rooms to home and car insurance. In-short, most people just want to save money and not get drawn into a long-term relationship that they know will always end up in the same place – with them being put in the awkward position of eventually being asked to part with cash.
So what’s the solution? Your brand is ready to settle down and have a committed relationship, but consumers just want to have fun. Well maybe we need to start by accepting that whilst what we’re saying might be really important to us – it’s not really all that important to other people. Not in terms of everything else that is going on in their lives. Remember, brand communications are more often than not an intrusion more than a welcomed distraction. We’re just clogging up Facebook and Twitter space that is needed to find out who is doing what tonight and discuss the really important topics such as, ‘does she really think she has the figure to wear that dress?’ and those obligatory promises of, ‘I’m never going to drink again’ with a choice of happy smiley face or cheeky wink.
So the challenge for brands is to become part of what is important to people. To be part of what interests them. It means taking a position and opposed to simply having a positioning statement.
And remember – not every conversation has to be all about you and how great you are.
TNS Impulse Panel (UK) & IBM in ‘To Keep Your Customers, Keep it Simple’. Harvard Business Review, May 2012.
There was a time not so very long ago when planning your brands media activity was a straightforward process. Audiences could be relied upon to act in certain ways and to follow predefined viewing and readership patterns. Life was simple if you were a planner.
But then something changed. Well actually – everything changed.
The arrival and subsequent explosion of social media forced planners to rethink the Brand / Channel / Audience equation. Social media did not follow the rules of traditional media and that made a lot of people very nervous. It was rebellious, undisciplined and accessible anywhere and at any time and people loved it for all of these reasons.
For the first time control of where, when and how people were exposed to and accessed information was out off the control of the planning departments and in the hands of the individual. People were becoming their own broadcast networks with their own followers.
Audiences were no longer faceless A, B, C1 demographics who could be relied upon to line up at 7:45pm on a Monday and Wednesday evening to be spoon fed brand messages during Coronation Street. They were suddenly real people with Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and they were talking and tweeting with one and other. They were sharing experiences and discussing views on everything from politics to which brand of shampoo they preferred.
In an attempt to regain some form of control, many planners began to reposition themselves as authorities in specific disciplines. In doing so, the discipline of media planning itself fractured and broke away from its rightful place at the marketing table instead of embracing the opportunity and combining its knowledge and market insights to maximum effect.
However, limiting yourself to just one area of expertise reduces your ability to engage with the very people you are looking to communicate with.
Think of it as going to a party and getting stuck in the kitchen with someone who insists on telling you the complete history of the Great Northern Railway. Yes, they have a defined area of expertise – but will you want to talk to them again?
People get bored and unless you can keep their attention, they will move onto someone more interesting and with more to say for themselves.
So if you are going to put your brands future in the hands of Roy Cropper – then your brand is in most likelihood going to come a cropper.
Forget B2B and B2C marketing, its P2P™ that counts.
We think it is time that brands stopped trying to pigeonhole the people they are targeting into neat definable clichés. Society is not that simple. In the world of B2B marketing for example, many brands and planners forget that behind the ‘B’ in business that there is a ‘P’ as in person making the decisions.
Our approach is to target the person and not the cliché. We focus on getting to know the behaviour of the individual and identifying the content they will find most relevant – content they will want to view, use and share. In achieving this, we are effectively turning each person in a brand advocate of the product or service we are selling.
From observing peoples behaviour, we can also identify other areas where we can reinforce our brand truth in a meaningful and relevant manner.
In our world, it’s not about digital and it’s not about channels. It’s about people and understanding their behaviour so we can manage and successfully stimulate positive behavioural change.
The psychology behind P2P™
As a species we are genetically programmed to be socially aware and to be communicative with one and other.
Indeed long before iPhones and Blackberry’s were even thought of, our ancestors were busy Tweeting and blogging on cave walls all across Europe, North America and Africa. Later they were chiselling profiles on any surface they could find and when they ran out of people to communicate with here on Earth, they launched the Pioneer 10 mission in 1972 to search for a new form of life in outer space to talk to.
We simply love to communicate.
However – for a brand to successfully engage with people, it has to be prepared to communicate and understand what ‘communication’ means. P2P works because it is a two-way process. It lets people engage with the brand and have a say.
It makes the brand someone as opposed to something. The brand steps down from its historic place on the pulpit where for generations it preached at the masses and it allows the brand to enter into dialogue with people. It allows the brand to earn a ‘trust’ value.
This insight into the human communications value hierarchy system shows us that people are increasingly basing purchasing decisions on the advice of family, friends and peers. Think about it. When was the last time you booked a hotel without first going to TripAdvisor and seeing what people have had to say about it?
Yet despite this knowledge, many brands continue to ignore the opportunity they have for becoming part of that influencing hierarchy and earning a trust value.
Change is good
Change keeps us on our toes. And for those willing to explore the opportunities presented by behavioural led P2P communication strategies, the future promises to be very exciting indeed.
However – at the risk of being taken out and stoned by the digital evangelists in our midst, social media remains a medium that has still not been fully realised. There is no end of brands preaching about its virtues, but in reality, very few have had the steal to commit to a fully immersive, behavioural led strategy.
Whilst there can be no denying that statistically, social media makes an impressive case for itself, as a tool within the marketers arsenal, used in isolation social media like any other channel will have a limited effectiveness.
For brands to fully capitalise on the opportunity that exists today to engage with the people they do business with, there has to be a fundamental change in the behaviour of marketers first and foremost.