by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded
It used to be the consumer had a passive role in marketing. They would watch, listen, or read. The advertising was good if it entertained and emotionally resonated. With today’s digital world, that’s no longer acceptable. The consumer must play an active role in your marketing. They are no longer on the sidelines just watching. They want, and sometimes, demand an active role in your marketing and advertising. It really doesn’t matter if it’s online or traditional. Social media or public relations. Customers now want to participate in your advertising.
I say let them. The best marketing is when you connect with your customers so honestly, they feel moved to participate, react, or contribute to your campaign. This has came about because the digital world has allowed customers to sound off instantly. Great marketing campaigns not only communicate an emotional appeal, but they also build in a mechanism for customers to talk back or to each other. The role of the consumer/view has changed. They reward compelling marketing by participating and contributing to the ads themselves. They also punish bad advertising by sounding off to the company and their many online friends.
Marketers should realize by now they need to provide a role for the customer to participate in. They need to have an active part in your marketing. This is called “what do you want the customer to do?” section. Too many marketing campaigns tell customers all about themselves, but leave no important role for them to play. This approach ignores the power customers have through digital media and online sites. It also doesn’t take advantage of technology and leverage it to the brand’s own benefit.
For example, Pop-Tarts had a competition where flavors went head-to-head in a bracket-style format like March Madness. Customers voted on their favorite flavor on each match up, eventually crowing the champion flavor. Even in traditional print and TV, customers should have an active role. The ads need to define and communicate what do they want the customer to do and how can they can contribute and express their opinion.
If you get customers to actually do something, they are more engaged and as a result, your brand has greater impact. By reacting and doing something, customers show they care, or at minimum, are interested enough to spend time doing what you’ve asked them to do. Whether the feedback is good or bad, at least you know they cared enough to participate. This gives you valuable insights and learnings. As the old saying goes, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do. Customers may say one thing, but their doing something speaks volumes of truth.