Kia Connects and Wins – An Advertising Lesson… for Marketers

Today the Wall Street Journal ran an article highlighting the fact that the Kia Soul hatchback won the Automotive Ad of the Year from Nielsen Automotive. In the article, the reporter states, “Compared with typical auto ads, the quirky  Kia spot focuses less on the car’s technical details and more on the freedom that driving brings” and that “Kia ad’s success is indicative of a trend toward smaller, often obscure brands taking more chances and getting more recognition from consumers with edgy, unusual advertising.”

 

Consumers are doing much  more than recognizing – they’re expecting to be listened to, and not just in advertising. One of the elements that we talk about a lot with clients today is the customer’s influence on marketing and involvement in PR. Marketers traditionally think that they’re the only ones doing the influencing, but in reality, today’s consumer holds a great deal of influence, as evidenced by debacles such as the “Motrin Moms” issue and more recently, Nestle’s social media mess.

So what do a cute hamster ad, angry mommy bloggers and social-media savvy protesters have in common? A theme not only of engagement but of encouraging involvement. Especially with B2C companies, consumers want to be heard not just after your ad airs or marketing campaign is launched, but before. They want to see their influence reflected in your ad spots, your marketing materials, your messaging and your promotions. Truly connecting with customers means understanding them – you can “engage” with them on Facebook but if you’re not really listening, and assessing their feedback, you won’t understand them. If you don’t understand them, it’s difficult to connect in a way that will inspire desired actions.

Kia recognized what their customers care about and let it influence their messaging -  creating an ad that touched them emotionally (freedom) vs. intellectually (the product specs). Advertisers are no strangers to using both sentiments in their campaigns, while  marketers often assume that the technical details will elicit the desired emotional response. Marketers could have greater success if they learn to open up a bit and allow customers to participate in the direction of messaging and marketing -  even product marketing and development, as Hallmark recently did with their “Birthday Your Way” Greeting Card Contest – not just a contest for promotional purposes, but really, truly allowing consumers to influence and create products.

Marketers who recognize today’s unprecedented opportunity to easily integrate customers’ opinions and desires into the overall marketing strategy – not just a feedback loop – will see greater success. Social media tools make this particularly easy to do, although it’s not just about gathering information, but rather understanding how to use that information to make an emotional connection with your brand and create an ongoing, solid relationship with your customer.

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You say Potat-o, I say Potat-a. Social Media, Marketing & Perspectives

AdAge ran an article yesterday that reminded me of perspectives. Perspectives have been on my mind as we continue to help businesses and institutions of all types more directly communicate with their key audiences – from customers, patients and prospects to partners, VCs, media and more. Perspectives have also been on my mind as many social media fans questioned the value of attending the recent South by South West (SxSW) festival in Austin – many folks said it’s the “must attend” show for anyone in social media. Others claim the festival has gone by the wayside and many debated whether or not it was worth attending at all.

Well, I guess that depends on your perspective.

For example, the AdAge article was about Justin Bieber. I don’t know who Justin Bieber is – but thanks to Simon Dumenco, I know now that he’s a Twitter and marketing machine, and quite possibly “the biggest legit pop star ever created by YouTube.” Now, none of this really matters to me (other than my interest in the marketing impact and approach) because I don’t have, as Simon puts it, a “young teen or tween.” My perspective is, “Justin who?” because I have no connection to this phenom and thus, while impressed with his impact, don’t really have a reason to care.

Likewise, people not in the business of social media or marketing don’t really care that the social media crowd gathers in Austin for a week, while a social media manager would “just die” if she weren’t at the “see and be seen” event. Someone ready to retire doesn’t think much about the job market, an ice skater likely doesn’t much care about the NCAA championships, and a fashion maven would do anything to get into New York Fashion Week, while her neighbor Bob, who owns a bait and tackle store, doesn’t even know that entire weeks are dedicated to watching skinny models walk down elaborate runways in outrageous clothing.

The point is, perspectives matter – especially in marketing. It’s the marketer’s job to get out of their own heads and into that of the audience they’re trying to influence. Do you know what your potential customer’s perspective is? You know what you think it is, but do you really know? Have you asked? Do you include a feedback mechanism in your marketing in order to keep rapidly changing perspectives in mind as you devise your strategy?

Traditionally, marketers gathered such information through the likes of surveys, polls, or focus groups –often conducted via email, phone or formal gatherings. While these methods can still be fruitful, it’s often challenging to get a good response rate and can be a great undertaking of both time and expense.

Many companies often ask what the value is in dedicating time spent on social media sites as part of their marketing or PR efforts. If they can’t correlate a direct sale, it can be difficult to convince the C-suite of the value. However, marketers need to think of social networks not as a direct sales pipeline but more as an ongoing, live and constantly evolving focus group. Understanding your customers and prospects has always been a core focus in marketing, and social media allows you to gather such perspectives on a daily basis.

If you know how to navigate the networks, a good marketer can use social media for ongoing research – gathering oodles of useful data just by watching the conversations (note; understanding how to find the right conversations is key). When you can gather information about what your constituents are thinking, what they care about, where they see the “next hot thing,” etc., you can better understand their perspectives.

A better marketer understands how to participate in the networks to direct conversations toward useful topics – in order to get perspectives on the things that matter to your business.

A great marketer knows how to integrate an audience’s perspectives into social marketing campaigns. When customers feel that you understand them, they’re more likely to listen. When they see you participating in conversation with them – not just talking at them, but with them – they’re more likely to connect with and trust you (or your brand). When they feel an emotional connection to your brand – something easier to create when you understand perspectives – they’re more likely to become brand champions.

So listen up – and integrate social media into your marketing efforts to, at the very least, get your pulse on the perspectives that matter to your business.

 

Can You Afford Not to Demand Excellence?

I recently had a conversation with an industry colleague who works on the client side. During that conversation, which took place at a marketing conference, he shared with me his experience at a certain other interactive conference last year: “One awesome week-long party paid for by my company. No real business takes place in terms of ROI. I can’t wait to go back.”

burning-wasting-money-600Huh? With that mentality, no wonder marketing is often the first line item when companies are facing budget cuts.

But wait a minute – aren’t you responsible for ensuring excellence for your company across the board at all times? In this day and age of record unemployment, pay cuts, “turning out the lights,” and more work with less resources, can you afford this sort of mentality on your workforce? Do you have any idea what the marketing department does with its budget? Are you assessing and measuring and demanding excellence on a weekly basis?

More importantly, if you have a marketing department spending money on events, travel, conferences and tradeshows, are you really measuring the ROI of such efforts? Do you assess the cost of the show (in full) and what it yielded for results? Do you pay attention to who’s going, what they’re doing and the expected results? Do you compare these investments to other marketing activities? Can you afford not to have such checks and balances in place these days?

Mind you, this was no multi-billion dollar company – although even they, too, are being affected by this global recession. This was a start up in a precarious and competitive industry. In other words, that kind of irresponsible mentality (like #11 here) shouldn’t be difficult to spot. But if you’re not paying attention – and not demanding results from every investment – then it could be missed. And such ignorance could cost you not only money, but perhaps a future layoff or worse.

Take the time to assess all of your  marketing activities – not just SEO or PR or advertising – but the dollars spent on every activity online and off. Demand excellence in everything and set parameters for employees. Prioritize in advance – know which activities yield the best results and which could easily be diminished with minimal impact.

Can you draw a direct line to results or positive ROI for each  marketing activity? If not, can you afford not to demand excellence and results across the board? I didn’t think so.

A Busy Week for Marketing and PR

This week we’re busy merging our online and offline worlds with other marketers and business executives at two key events. We kicked off Wednesday at Boston’s Internet Marketing Summit with a fun and interactive booth – check out the activity on our Whrrl story – where we helped the crowd connect with their “inner social media guru.” We also took away invaluable tips, tricks and lessons from the numerous panels. You can catch a lot of those tidbits by following the aggregated Twitter feed on our #IMS09 landing page (where the “inner social media guru photos are featured) or on Twitter.

Today I have the pleasure of attending (and speaking at) Open View Venture Partners Content Marketing Workshop. It’s only 10 a.m. and I’ve already learned plenty of new tips for great marketing, digital content and promotion. Being in a room with a group of energetic, eager and smart entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to spend the day. I look forward to applying some of these lessons for both PerkettPR and our clients in the future. And, while right now I need to pay attention and take notes, I’ll look to share some of the best tidbits from this event – and IMS – through our social networks (here, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). If you have any specific questions that you’d like us to raise while we’re here, drop us a line!

What are your biggest marketing challenges?

Christine Perkett interviewed on NewMarketingTV

PerkettPR’s own Christine Perkett talks with BMA President Michael Lewis on NewMarketingTV during the last day of the 2008 New Marketing Summit at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. All of the video interviews that Mike created during the summit can be found on the NewMarketingTV YouTube page.