Archives for January 2012

Where has the bull’s eye gone?

Understanding the dynamics of the new consumer universe

(An excerpt from my keynote address at the Latin American Communication Festival at Rio)

There was a time when the bull’s eye of brand building was at the centre of the communication and the consumer universe. Today, it is no longer fixed – it is wherever the consumer goes. We now have a ‘moving target’!

Again, we had above-the line, below-the-line and, indeed, online as a system of segmenting conversations with consumers. Today, the lines have, literally, blurred.

In fact ‘target’ as a phrase is more about a mindset or a mode or a moment, rather than a demographic.

With such dynamics rapidly changing the playing field, the integration agenda that agencies are talking about becomes a very interesting one. Given the new role of behavioural economics in all of this – with online and offline behavioural patterns being vastly different as well – it’s a highly interactive world we live in.

So which medium is at the heart the campaign? What is the role of channel planning? How are manufacturers and consumers enjoying co-parenting brands? These are question that will determine where the bull’s eye has to move – and where brands have to align themselves in relation to that.

These are the most exciting times for marketers. Because these are the most engaging times for consumers.

What comes first: the lyrics or the tune?

Understanding the power of music as a social glue

(An excerpt from my joint address at Eurobest with Spotify)

We are all born to the rhythm of 72 beats a minute – the rhythm of life and the heartbeat of hope.

Everybody has a song. Music is the backdrop of memories. Every milestone – an event, a nostalgic moment, a success, a loss, a relationship, a feeling – has a song to remember it by.

In the conducting of a complex orchestra of human interests and passions lies the very soul of a community – a community that could be as everlasting as a classic. It is all about the inner rhythm of individuals and its exponential reverberation into a rousing online chorus.

How do you touch that chord, strum that latent need, pluck the heartstrings? The answer lies in the power of music to bind and bond. The solution is in understanding the vibrations of a group that taps its feet to a common beat.

Today, the consumer is the brand. And the brand is the consumer. The roles have changed, and the rules have too. And there’s nothing better than a good song to make it easy to resonate with that change.

It’s time to be in tune with listeners. And pitch your messages at just the right key.

The sweet music of a good social media strategy begins with a belief in music as a lasting community building tool. It also begins with the belief in the potential of a powerful philharmony.

Who are you on the web?

Understanding the new consumer in the online world

(An excerpt from my article in New Media Age)

Famous or anonymous. Vocal or viral. Brand advocate or brand enemy. How you’re perceived online is entirely up to you. The internet is egalitarian. It’s the great leveller. Politicians are lampooned, socialites get spoofed, authoritative institutions are questioned, and all with unequivocal ruthlessness. Blogs get personal as they scrutinise manufacturers and brands. Celebrities don’t always make it to the top of search results lists (often pipped to the post by a small-towner with the same name who has been protesting against gutter maintenance in the town square). From a state of it being about not what you know but who you know, the new mantra is ‘Who knows you?’

Of course, the internet has created a whole new set of competitive metrics. How many followers do you have on Twitter? How many Facebook friends? How many YouTube videos? How regular are your blog posts? But despite the competition, the web is ultimately very democratic. It’s up to you to make your LinkedIn profile a collector’s item. Content will always be king and connectivity can ignite people’s awareness and appreciation of this.

As social media brings people closer together, organising them into likeminded communities, we find ourselves questioning hierarchies we once took for granted. Online growth is multi-directional, almost cellular and certainly exponential rather than pyramid-like. There’s no one top dog: everyone has an opinion and the right to air it.

A community generates its own momentum. It can fuel change, propel people to action, snowball into something much greater than the sum of its parts. A network of mothers banded together by a determined code is a storehouse of powerful maternal instincts. Groups watching their carbon footprint have an impact on the virtual world in ways that persuade others to do likewise. And alumni gatherings are being mined for their loyalty quotient. It’s all about the effect of your cause.

But it’s easy to follow the misguided notion that there’s a formula: make some friends, widen the circle, spread the word, then measure the social value. Today, even the casual mention of the phrase ‘social media’ seems to indicate that the user has an understanding of the new web. But here’s where the leveller comes back into play: you can’t manipulate, dictate or dominate. The online space is community property bound by the ethics of free speech and equal rights.

This is the time and place where age, gender, geography, history, belief and behaviour aren’t the yardsticks of who you are. It’s all about how sticky your social glue is.