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Telling the brand story: is it the one your customers care about?

Spike Jones at The Daily Fix has a good post up titled: “Further Proof Traditional Advertising Is Losing It’s Grip”. Spike points to the critically acclaimed VW ads, as well as Subservient Chicken as two creatively groundbreaking campaigns that generated a ton of buzz and awareness, but ultimately left sales flat.

I’m the last person to dismiss terrific creative execution, but so often the story that the creative is expressing is one that is as flat as the sales, and does nothing to generate loyalty and word of mouth. This is not limited just to TV of course, but the reality is too often that mass drives the concept and sometimes is forced to work with a brand ID that is out of touch with reality, or needs reinventing to be relevant, and the rest of the mediums force fit the concept into their development to showcase “integration”.

So, the ad may tell a good story, and be visually compelling, but is it one your customers will tell in turn? Is it the type of story that is part of the fabric of a brand AND resonates with your customers own experiences? Is it the truth? Does the product or service show a clear value proposition that is expressed in a way the consumer gets? Does it take into consideration what your target audience perceives about your brand?

Will it make consumers identify with and talk about your brand, ultimately motivating purchases? Or was it made to “go viral”, and/or “be edgy/ unique”? Sometimes it will be all three, but if brand health is the barometer I’d pick door #1 any day and let our customers open the others.

[photo credit: babasteve on Flickr]

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I’m confused. Who are you targeting?

This weekend the definition of “social media” and the relevancy of the “social news release” had the blogosphere all a twitter. Everyone and their uncle appears to have weighed in, and it seems like it’s the PR folks vs. the web strategy folks, with a few journos thrown into the mix. Which makes me ask – whither the marketers?

Of course the blogosphere loves a good controversy, but are we all even talking about the same thing? Do we have to be?

I’m pretty agnostic on the social news release as I don’t find it particularly relevant to me as an interactive/ integrated marketing strategist. My goals are to reach and communicate with customers and prospects, not journalists. Journalists and trade media, in my business, are a by-product of a great campaign (or a really bad one). Can that evolve and change as “social media tools” become more ubiquitous and advanced? Sure it can, but marketing and communications 101 doesn’t go out the window…. I’m starting to hear whisperings of Web 1.0.

Btw, I have a serious quibble with calling communicating with customers “media”. It’s a social experience made possible by social media/ Web 2.0 tools, but I digress… another post… It’s not as if I’m browsing Flickr trying to buy a digital camera; I heard good things about the camera and am looking for pics and examples on the photo sharing tool…

The “internet” is not monolithic, nor is everyone who uses Digg or MySpace the same person who can be reached the same way. Claiming that there is no target audience anymore is ridiculous. If I’m selling beer I sure as hell don’t want to be on MySpace trying to communicate with 14 year olds. It still matters. Let alone all the regulatory issues that surround marketing and PR as Shel Holtz touched on. Most companies aren’t Web 2.0 start ups, and have to comply with multiple rules and regs that have been established over decades. Ford can’t release a vehicle in ‘beta’, nor can Labatt brush off the AGCO requirements and review by throwing up a MySpace page for Blue – it isn’t as simple as just having the company evangelist send out the word via blogs. The devil is in the strategic and tactical details where the brand meets its target audience.

Not everyone who blogs is Mike Arrington and needs scoops. Nor does each social news press release necessarily need to reach a blogger in order to be relevant. To me, it’s a quick one stop shop for journalists and others who want to stay up on a certain portion of a company’s news. Bloggers are far more likely to pick up on your release if it’s been mentioned in a more mainstream publication. Which is the point of the press release right? I don’t see many consumers (aside from the 1% of the 1% of bloggers who are in communications or tech) browsing PR Newswire and Digging releases. If anything, they’ll use your release and the social tools you provided to comment or fact check something the NY Times wrote and continue the conversation elsewhere.

There is a place for everything, including social media in press releases, as the Internet has proven so well the last 10 years. Why not just experiment and see what shakes out of the mix?

Update: Collin @ Radical Trust has a great post up about targeting your audience and integrating social media platforms – it helps to define the differences between enabling and creating the conversation.

[photo credit: The Rappaz Horror Picture Show on Flickr]

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The President of India has a question

I love this. It really speaks to the ability of the internet to create a global community; building on each others thoughts, experiences and perspectives. I know the readers of my blog come from all over the world and I always appreciate the larger, global view; I think it is essential to moving forward. Which is why I am so pleased to see that Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the current President of India recently posted a question for the world wide web community to respond to -

What should we do to free our planet from terrorism?

If you’d like to join the conversation head over to Yahoo! Answers and tell the world (and the President) what you think we should do… I’d venture we need to put our collective heads together on this one.

[h/t - mythbuster33 on digg]

[photo credit: NikAt on Flickr]

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The ‘iProduct’ is you

Simon at epiculture just shot this beauty over to me via email… Instant classic.

View full size image

Now if we could just get the iPhone in Canada…. :)

I’ll add attribution as soon as I find the genius at work… and he has been found. Courtesy of a boy and his computer.
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Conversations, collaboration and publishing 2.0

Two gents who walk the social media walk are Joe Jaffe and Shel Israel. Both are currently working on their second books and have invited conversations and encourage collaboration with their audiences. It’s not culture by committee as both still maintain editorial and subject matter control, but it is in the true spirit of listening and learning that they’re asking for feedback and input.

Shel has the ToC 2.0 up at his site for his new book Global Neighbo[u]rhoods (long story with the ou), and Joe has started a Wiki for input on Chapter 10 of his upcoming book “Join the Conversation”.

I encourage anyone with something to say, or an interest in social media, to check them out and get in on the conversation.

[photo credit: gafoto on Flickr]

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