When Chicago failed in its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, President Barack Obama elected to use a sports metaphor to soften the blow. "You can play a great game and still not win," noted the First Chicagoan upon his return from Copenhagen.
As we move into 2010 -- and toward the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February -- marketers will be facing Olympic hurdles themselves that will require steadfast agility just to stay in the game, much less to hit the finish line ahead of the competition. Here are 10 ideas that should deliver the gold.
1. Social media: A marathon, not a sprint
Hoping to become fast friends with their targets, a lot of brands rushed into Facebook and Twitter in the last 24 months without investing sufficient time or resources. In 2010, savvy marketers will increase their commitment to social media by first listening and then offering up a steady stream of engaging content that their fans actually want. This will be particularly true for B2B brands, only 38 percent of which included social media in their 2008 marketing plans (compared to 71 percent of B2C brands).
One comScore study indicated that branded social media activities can have a multiplier effect on search results, providing a quantifiable rationale for brands to up the social media ante in 2010.
2. Mashups: Taking inspiration from biathlons
A few innovative marketers took a shot at mashups in 2009. E.P. Carrillo, a new cigar manufacturer, created a mesmerizing Twitter and Google Maps mashup for its "coming soon" site that tracks cigar tweets from around the world. In 2010, these kinds of mashups will become smoking hot as marketers look to extend the value of their social media activities. Recognizing that tech-savvy consumers glide seamlessly between personal and business, online and offline, mobile and desktop, farsighted marketers will bring together formerly disparate elements into a cohesive and self-perpetuating social media experience.
3. App happy: On your mark, get set, go crazy
Given the success a handful of marketers enjoyed with their "apps" in 2009, expect a blaze of new entries in 2010. iPhone apps that provide demonstrable utility like Kraft's iFood Assistant recipe finder, Benjamin Moore's color matcher, and Zipcar's GPS-based car finder will continue to gain traction. Expect more apps that integrate with other social media like the Gap StyleMixer that allows you to mix and match clothes and share them with friends on Facebook.
And don't forget the non-iPhone universe. The steakhouse Maloney & Porcelli cooked up a humorous and somewhat deviant web-based app Expense-A-Steak that extrudes faux expense reports that look stunningly authentic.
4. Measure up: Track every second
With more dollars earmarked for social media, marketers will undoubtedly use new tools to monitor the conversations that are happening with or without them. Radian6 and Scout Labs emerged in 2009 as two of the leading social media monitoring tools. Molson Coors uses Radian6 to stay on top of all the banter about its major brands, allowing it to respond with remarkable speed to one of my blog posts about a Coors Light Twitter account that turned out to be unofficial.
And while these tools are great, each requires a sizeable commitment by the marketer in time of staff, a commitment that can and does pay off. Just ask JetBlue, which manages to enhance customer loyalty daily by responding to any and every customer tweet within minutes. JetBlue follows 117,000 people on Twitter, generating more than 1.3 million followers for itself.
5. POV power: Don't just talk the talk
While lots of brands raced into social media in 2009, few established true connections with their targets. The reality is that consumers engage with brands they like on a visceral level and that provide a distinct perspective on the world. Aflac's Duck quacks up a gaggle of quirky content, including charitable requests that appeal to more than 161,000 fans on Facebook and more than 3,000 followers on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Geico's Gecko has been left in the social media dust due to its surprisingly dry and unresponsive online voice. Ironically, a brand by definition is a point-of-view that, once clearly defined, should guide all communications, social or otherwise.
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