Just so I don’t waste anyone’s time, this is a digital-marketing-related post. I know the title might seem racy–especially coming from a tool such as Twitter, where article titles spread quickly. But it’s a good one, so please read on….
Last week I had an onboarding with a new Marketing Director on one of our long-time businesses at Bridge Worldwide. As agency folks know, these can sometimes be tense affairs. We worry about what the new leader will think about our historic work, and pay close attention to how he or she might shift gears on everything we’ve been doing to date. And for a digital agency like ours, we also closely pay attention to how much the new client is engaged in this new media. Sometimes you find that a new client is ready to leap three steps forward on the digital playing field, but it’s just as likely that the new guy or gal will wonder why we’re not spending more on TV commercials instead.
In this particular meeting, it didn’t take long for our new client leader to start sharing his beliefs–mainly because we cleverly put an agenda item early on in the meeting titled something like: “Mr. Client Shares His Beliefs.” Like many traditional marketers, this particular client admitted that he is still learning about how the digital space is evolving, but certainly wants to crack the code quickly. Then he said something that I had never heard before; it went a little something like this:
One of the things I do to learn how our consumers are using digital and social media is to read my wife’s Facebook page. When I do this, I see the kinds of things that she and her friends are talking about–and it’s usually not brands or marketing. My wife and her friends talk about their children, plans for the weekend, hobbies, and reactions to what’s in the news. So if we want her to talk about our brand, then we need to do something that connects our brand in some meaningful way to what really interests her.
There are a few things that made this comment remarkable in my mind. First, it is an example of a marketer who understands that the answers don’t come from expensive research reports and fancy insight graphics–they come from paying attention to what people are doing and saying, even in your own home.
The second lesson here is the admission that many of the brands we work on are usually not chat-worthy on their own. Despite our desire to “join the conversation” and put up Facebook profiles for our brands, the reality is that we are competing for attention against topics that are much more engaging than whether our new product formula is 20% better. We have to admit this reality and talk about it openly.
And, finally, I love his point that we have to “do something” (i.e., not just talk) that connects our brand in some meaningful way (i.e., ties to higher-level needs). This is exactly what I’ve been preaching here for two and a half years.
There is nothing better than working for a client who is strategically smart, is wise enough to admit he needs to learn, and commits to working with agency partners to crack the code. This story is an important lesson for any marketer who is struggling to figure out the future of marketing, and shows how in small ways you can inspire agency partners to help you lead the way.