Much is changing in the marketing landscape. The good old-fashioned ‘marketing campaign’ is being replaced by something all together more substantial, engaging and purposeful – the ‘marketing commitment’.

Let me explain. For decades clients and agencies have developed marketing thoughts and ideas that are intended to help drive sales in a limited period of time i.e. a marketing campaign. Campaigns suited everybody:

  1. It allowed clients to plan several campaigns over an annual period.
  2. It fitted the client’s product/service roadmap and updates.
  3. It suited the budgetary process i.e. qtr by qtr.
  4. It was a simple way to manage and engage creative agencies.

However, in today’s hyper connected, always-on world the traditional marketing campaign fails to connect with its audience for several reasons:

  1. As consumers and business buyers we don’t want to be sold to anymore
  2. The majority of purchase decisions we make start with a Google search. They are inbound driven rather than outbound generated.
  3. Social media is a 24/7 medium; we can’t successfully build communities/dialog with our customers and then turn it off when the campaign budget runs out.

Clear is the new clever

Savvy customers and business buyers are presented with an endless choice of brands and vendors they can buy from. They understand they are in control but too much choice can be mind-boggling. They are looking for emotional and rational short cuts from brands and vendors that help them create a mental shopping list. Beyond the creation of content, web sites, reviews, guides and so forth they are looking for something extra – they are looking for something that gives them a feel good factor when they choose one brand over another.

Unfortunately, the feel good factor that brands focused on using powerful imagery, style, desire etc doesn’t fool consumers like it used to. We are looking for something with more substance, something less ‘fake and fluff’ and more clear, transparent, meaningful and real.

It’s now less about what a company makes and sells but how it makes and sells it!

Consumers and business buyers look at companies and subconsciously place value on the implicit activity of the company:

  1. Purpose: What meaningful difference are they trying to impact in their category or the world at large?
  2. Values: Their values and how committed they are to them
  3. Culture: What kind of employer they are
  4. Energy: The level of passion and energy given off by its employees
  5. Legacy: Their track record and actions in relation to being a good company; social responsibility / sustainability.

All these factors are now playing a pivotal role in why some brands and vendors are selected over another.

Smart companies are tackling this change in mind-set by focusing more on their implicit communications (otherwise termed brand body language) and developing strategic marketing commitments.

For example:

O2 Telefonica has invested heavily in a global, digital accelerator programme for start-ups called Wayra. They provide the funding, office space, mentoring from 02 executives and other third parties, access to investors and much much more.

So what does 02 Telefonica get out of this investment?

  1. Corporate pride: A sense of social responsibility that they are doing something positive to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture in Europe and South America.
  2. Skin in the game: Their 40,000 Euro convertible loan in each company gets converted into a small equity holding if the start-up secures secondary funding.
  3. Employee Engagement: The chance for 02 executives to get out of their corporate bubble and work with bright, young entrepreneurs and learn and share ideas and experiences.
  4. New technologies: A pipeline of innovative new ideas and technologies that can form part of the 02 Telefonica portfolio of services they offer their customers.
  5. Opportunity: The chance to birth the next Facebook, Google, MessageLabs, ARM.

Other smaller companies are taking the same approach but on a much smaller scale. The London Evening Standard is a classic example of a modern day publisher that is committed to helping improve London. Its most recent initiative to help tackle gang crime gives start-up loans to ex-offenders who want to start a new life.

All over the UK other companies are doing similar things. They recognise that by adopting issues within their industry and communities they can create marketing commitments that energise their employees, create a feel good/do good factor and most importantly can be the thing that tips the balance when it comes to consumers and business buyers making a purchase.

So start thinking commitments not campaigns, it’s the best way to engage your customers and your employees.

If you’re interested in exploring how you can develop a more engaging approach to your marketing communications then get in contact with me.

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