Thursday, February 18, 2010

MEDIAPOST: The Debut Of The “Always On” Brand

The “Always On” Brand (AOB) is a concept that I use to describe how your brand should operate in today’s ever-connected world. The AOB is a brand that is actively broadcasting and listening at the same time, all of the time. It’s the kind of brand that knows what it wants to say, but is not afraid to listen to feedback and react accordingly. The AOB is the kind of brand that will be successful in the coming years and the kind of brand that you should aspire to be!

In many a marketing meeting I hear brands that are tepid at best when it comes to engaging with their customers publicly. These marketers are fearful of what their consumers may say about their brand and avoid the feedback loop like it’s a plague. These marketers are the ones who focus their energy, time and budget against broadcasting a message to their audience and focus on pre-launch creative testing and outdated models for projecting what will work, but are afraid to hear in real-time what their consumers are saying. They assume no news is good news and keep on moving ahead.

The marketer that avoids listening to the present and using it to shape the future should be a relic of the past. With so many outlets for consumer interaction and so many data-points available to them, how can you possibly be effective with an annualized campaign that doesn’t react in real-time. The world around you is shifting and the consumer wants their information now. Why should you be any different? This defines the Ostrich Marketing Strategy.

The Ostrich Marketing Strategy is the one where you develop your plan, you roll it out, and then you stick your head in the sand and hope for the best. What’s funny is that this can work in some cases! If you have an established brand in a static category, it can work but the truth is it won’t work for very long. You can get by for a couple of years with this strategy, but eventually something will go wrong. The product will have a problem or a competitor will enter the space and turn things over on their head. Eventually your lack of assertion will lead to your downfall and the brand will begin to perish.

The Always On Brand is the brand that’s not afraid to engage with their consumers and take what they have to say. The AOB is the kind of brand that balances broadcasting it’s message into the marketplace with creating response mechanisms that allow the consumer to engage with the brand. The AOB is not afraid of taking criticism from its customers and the AOB is not afraid to respond. The AOB doesn’t avoid using social media and they don’t avoid promoting the many ways that a consumer can provide feedback. The AON is staffed to listen 100% of the time, they don’t assign a Community Manager for 50% of the day. They don’t assign an intern to be that Community Manager; they create a role that is effective and has a direct line of site into senior management because this person becomes the conduit for the consumer to speak to the leaders of the company. The AOB understands who the vocal minority are and they respond to them quickly, knowing that if you can turn these folks around they will share this with the populace at large. The AOB is a catalyst for change in the organization. They are what drives the future of the brand and they are what you and your brand should aspire to be.

Some of you may say that the AOB is a costly effort to develop and manage, but it’s no more costly than the effect of ignoring your core customers. When you ignore their feedback, you risk the chance of creating an opportunity for the competition. If you give them that opportunity, I guarantee they’ll take it because they are spending hours and hours each day trying to find ways to gain market share away from you! If you play the Ostrich Strategy, you give them everything they need to be successful!

The AOB is not afraid to take chances and be risky from time to time because the AOB knows they have the mechanism to respond and change direction quickly. The AOB knows that a mistake played is easier to recover from than an opportunity lost.

What kind of marketer are you and what kind of brand do you aspire to be?

No comments: