Do not separate distribution and creative anymore. Marketers must create content in the context of how it is consumed and shared by consumers, as consumers increasingly share the equity and control of brand health through the sharing of links.
Break the news to your creative and advertising teams gently, and have the right people in the room for media buying.
Create a filter for all marketing internally. Why engage? Why only this brand? Why share? Facebook's Sponsored Stories represent this thinking as the advertising is word of mouth -- meaning that brands benefit rather than compete with fans.
Be brave enough to shift more of your marketing mix away from reach and awareness-based advertising. The algorithm behind "influence within the conversation online" (authority, virality, and popularity) -- as opposed to reach -- is actually the most salient indicator of brand health and the most solid predictor of purchase intent. Marketers must use this social behavioral data in real time not only to optimize online campaigns, but optimize merchandise, creative, and media across all marketing (and products for that matter).
Like in the movie "Moneyball," every marketing campaign requires a quant in-attendance who can provide behavioral data from social media to inform the development of the campaign and temper the instincts of the product team. Companies like Banana Republic are shrewd in measuring the performance of their social media campaigns to inform ad spend and merchandising.
The marketing organization of the future will look like a social network with nodes of influencers managing relationships across disciplines all built around word of mouth. The traditional structure of marketing is largely obsolete, but it will take time for marketers to realize the impact of the shift in consumer behavior.
Create an organization chart that resembles a social network with the brand owner at the center supported by representatives from the entire internal community. Brands such as Barbie place word of mouth structurally at the center of their planning. Coca-Cola's version of its creative process illustrates its version of the customer journey.
A dollar is a dollar whether you get it online or in-store. Do not separate online from in-store marketing. Not only are they both part of the same customer journey, but they also enrich each other. When I am in store, provide me the ratings and reviews, product videos, and discovery available online. When online, direct me in-store and provide me better sales support.
Create a simple map that shows all of your touch points, how they all connect, and how they are part of the same customer journey. Brands need to take a 360-degree approach -- which is admittedly different for each brand -- and be where the consumers are. Create an online ecosystem -- a living web presence that keeps consumers engaged by stimulating and feeding off conversations that happen on the brand site, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on microsites. Then use those conversations to further build brand stories.
Here is JCP's marketing calendar. JCP is incredibly innovative in creating cross-platform narratives.
Recently, I ran a panel at South-by-Southwest's Interactive festival on how the event is a fad. I chose the subject because interactive is not a vertical like film or music -- it horizontally impacts everything. As a result, SXSW Interactive attracts everyone because it doesn't really stand for anything. The same thing is happening within marketing departments. No one knows where advertising, interactive, or public relations starts and stops anymore, and organizational silos and egos prevent true collaboration.
Ultimately, the entire marketing process must revolve around word of mouth. It must revolve around why we engage and why we share, not channel, media, or discipline. If your marketing department does not have that printed on every door, you should worry. And then go to your local sign store.
Curtis Hougland is the founder of Attention.
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