Bruce La Fetra from Rubicon Consulting presented the LOVE model at the Sprout Social Media Summit a couple of weeks ago and I've been thinking about what it means for social media. Rubicon's LOVE model illustrates how marketers need to change their style to adapt to consumer expectations in an era when communicating with your customers is the norm, not the exception.
The old model, which anyone in marketing likely knows, is the ACPL funnel. Fundamentally, the funnel is an information model where the company pushes out information and the customer consumes it. The funnel assumes that marketers do a lot of work to drive product awareness, and a certain percentage of those made aware will consider buying. Of the percentage that purchases, some will become loyal customers. This model is linear, uni-directional, and transaction-centric.
This model worked for many years because companies' dominant share-of-voice allowed them to direct customers through the classic funnel. In an environment where companies controlled the message, the buying cycle's funnel worked really well and was a useful way to understand how purchase decisions were made. This isn't a bad model -- it simply reflects an outdated one-way media environment.
Today, technology enables two-way media that fundamentally changes the landscape. The funnel doesn't work for social media because it is about transactions, and social media is about relationships. As everyone knows, relationships change over time, and people move into and out of different phases constantly. Sometimes you're giddy with excitement, other times you're thinking about your options. So Rubicon created a framework for describing relationships between consumers and companies.
The Lifetime Opportunity Value Equation (LOVE) includes five phases but, unlike the funnel, they're not linear. Customers can move among the phases in either direction. The phases include:
Romance. Romance is about introductions, learning and trying new things. The romance stage is a good time for companies to share product information in a fun, engaging way. This phase is not about pushing people to buy, as no one wants to think about big commitments when being romanced. Social media is a perfect solution for romancing customers because a friend's recommendation is the perfect way to learn about a new product (or a romantic interest).
A good example of romance in social media is a recent campaign by Diesel for its new cologne, Only The Brave. The campaign allows consumers to mix a hit song, customize the album cover, and share it with friends across social networks. It's a fun exercise that any consumer would enjoy, whether he's a hard-core DJ or has never mixed tracks before. There is no hard sell or overt marketing to turn a consumer off.
Power struggle. The power struggle phase is about spending time with your customers and working to maintain their attention. When creating social media campaigns, agencies must provide an engaging experience that fulfills the customer's need for credible information. If not, he will leave the site, and the company loses the customer's attention -- and its ability to control the relationship narrative.
In The Prototype Experience campaign, consumers use Facebook Connect to log-in, and can then view a video game trailer that has been personalized with their content. It's an amazing, surprising experience to see your photos and personal information worked into a video. Because you want to see how your details will be displayed, you continue to watch the trailer and learn more about the game.
Co-creation. Co-creation is about co-creating value and co-ownership of vision. When Skittles relaunched its website and displayed tweets on its home page, it was effectively telling customers that they could shape the brand -- a powerful co-creation example.
Embracing the LOVE model embarks an organization on a journey of discovery. Like a good marriage, the better you know your customers or the targets of your campaigns, the more you'll learn about them and about how to improve your business, from products to processes to messaging. The best customers will move out of the role of transacting and into the role of advocate. The benefits, however, do not come for free. You'll have to actually listen and align your interests with theirs.
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