It looks to me like marketing and social media are fundamentally at odds with each other at the moment.
Marketing as done today is very much about the success game; the "show me the money" moment where professionals are constantly moving from obstacle to obstacle to overcome prospects resistance. It interrupts people in the most disparate places while they're on their way to doing what they wanted to do or being where they wanted to be.
Social media is about engaging the social part (mostly) and it speaks the language and philosophy of contribution. While there are many attempts made on defining what being in social media means, the experience is fundamentally specific to you and the people who are in it - it's not transferable, and it speaks the intent of abundance.
If you're trying to stick marketing inside social media, you are basically headed for a downward spiral. The two are behaving differently and we behave very differently in their presence. This means that we're very much in need of innovation in marketing so that we can join the social environment of this age of conversation.
Innovation can be simple, it does not necessarily cost a lot, and it can be fun. Most importantly, when thought-out well, it provides value to customers - it's about them, the social, not the company. See if your company has the mojo do to this.
Marketing that radiates possibility is social
You're FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos), what do you do well? Copies. How about offering free copies of resumes to job seekers? Customers can print up to 25 black-and-white copies of their resume at any of the company's 1,600+ stores across the United States.
You're a Hotel, what can you do to help cash-strapped travelers? You could launch a pay-what-you-want rate as the Ibis Sngapore on Bencoolen did and be seen as a generous brand. Rancho Bernardo Inn asks guests "How low will you go?", letting them set their price by excluding the amenities they can live without. The hotel general manager, John Gates, is promoting survivor packages on Twitter - valid through June 15.
How low would you go?
You sell cameras, lenses and photographic equipment, what could you come up with? How about hosting workshops in national parks? Canon does that, hosting sessions outdoors twice daily by professional photographers, giving participants the opportunity to try a variety of Canon cameras and lenses.
In seeing and reading about some of these examples, I cannot help but feel inspired. Call it creativity, call it design of experience, as a potential customer I might call it engagement. When the company extends an invitation to do something for you, what is your reaction - and experience, if you take them up on it?
There are plenty of opportunities to radiate possibility with your business. Some questions for you and your brand:
- What is simple, and fairly (surprisingly) low cost, yet interesting, you could do with your product or service? Entertainment and education are also part of engagement.
- Can you think of one or two marketing innovations that will not break the bank to be social? Something unexpected, that shows empathy, or attention to your customer.
- Will your brand personality embody a contribution?
Ben Zander has a thought provoking idea that the conductor doesn't make a sound - he focuses on making other people more powerful. Do you help your customers feel connected, lively, thought about? If you do, they will in turn feed you information that's valuable to you as a marketer.
[image by Michele Catania]