At SIC 2012, Marc Connor, Chief Marketing Strategist at POSSIBLE Worldwide (WPP group), set out to clarify traditional concepts around marketing, branding and creating emotional connections leveraging the unique qualities of the interactive space. POSSIBLE partners with some of the worlds’ largest brands including Microsoft, Audi, Disney, and P&G.
When it comes to building an emotional connection between a brand and its customers, FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) marketers have been very successful using traditional broadcast channels and spinning off endearing brand mascots. Now, as we tread en masse into a digitized, socialized and mobilized world how can brands use interactive marketing to effectively create emotionally satisfying digital experiences? Conner offered a checklist with examples of some work done by POSSIBLE Worldwide.
1) Brands in the interactive environment have to affect behavior.
When we think traditionally about brands we focus on look, tone and feel. However, in an interactive, real-time, always-on environment, behavior holds equal and maybe more weight and cannot be ignored. Interactive marketing dollars spent therefore have to effect behavior.
2) Good marketing in an interactive environment must be interesting, different, effective and agile.
People aren’t really ‘target consumers’ as we commonly refer to them. Consuming is something people do, not what they are. And, when they are not consuming they do what interests them and what they are passionate about. Good marketing should therefore be:
i) Interesting: Famed advertising copywriter Howard Gossage once said: “People don’t read ads. People read what interests them. And sometimes it’s an ad.” It’s therefore imperative that we find a balance between what our brand stands for and what people really care about.
ii) Different: Understanding behavior presents the opportunity to get your brand to stand for something and break through uniquely.
iii) Effective: Commonplace for digitally based brands is continuous measurement and optimization against goals and KPI’s. Optimization should be built into the operating rhythm and marketing budgets. And, amid countless emerging technologies and platforms, intelligent decisions that affect ROI should be made.
iv) Agile: Agility is not to be confused as an argument against annual planning, but we need to be mindful that the world won’t stay the same for the next 12 -18 months. The idea of being agile is critical to brands if they wish to tie to what interests people. With agility, self awareness is also critical. Brands have to know themselves thoroughly so that they can naturally connect with people, cultures, news and events to produce content and solutions in real time. Or, close to.
3) Understand the components of digital creative.
To understand what an emotional connection in interactive marketing is about, we have to understand the components of digital creative. Unlike traditional advertising, beyond copy, design, audio and video, equal attention to hardware, code and experience planning is critical. Check out how all these components were brought together for Orville Redenbachers.
4) Provide High Involvement triggers.
Whether it’s toilet paper or fiber supplements, POSSIBLE believes there are no low involvement categories, just low involvement marketing. Opportunities to create experiences with an emotional connection and achieve high involvement are aplenty if brands tap into a passion that someone already has, enable status, amplify recognition among their existing social circles and empower customers. Read how Prilosec (heartburn medication) turned to the community to champion the brand and created an emotional connection by tapping into peoples passions.
6) Leverage ‘Storymaking’ over Storytelling.
Storytelling is generally linear and passive, but in an interactive environment it is not so. Classic storytelling principles can surely guide us, however delivering a non-linear narrative using interactive elements effectively that involves the audience as characters in the story requires that we put into practice the concept of ‘Storymaking’. Vicks’ ‘breath for life’ campaign asked people to donate their breath to raise awareness about children’s lives lost due to pneumonia around the world – a great example of bringing together all the above principles to create an emotional connection using ‘Storymaking.’
Connor also called on marketers to work with their agencies early enough to identify how interactive can be leveraged to expand the product or service by building in behavior based inputs right from the beginning and use its power to overcome common limitations around point of purchase dynamics, shelf space, pack & shape of the product,distribution requirement, etc.
It’s no news that marketing is a conversation with the consumer, neither is it news that today control over message is shared with the consumer. But, herein lies the opportunity to co-create experiences that become the metaphorical mascots of tomorrow.