Photo courtesy of Resource Interactive/iCitizen
I just returned from three invigorating days at the iCitizen symposium in Columbus, OH presented by Resource Interactive. The topic for the session was: ”Everywhere Commerce: From Shareable to Shoppable Moments” and it couldn’t be timelier. The way people are buying is changing dramatically every minute. There really is no place people can’t or won’t make a purchase nowadays aided by the explosion of digital technologies. In fact, there were some pretty funny stories from attendees about the strangest places they ever made a purchase (think bathroom stall).
Now that we’ve truly entered the world of everywhere commerce, communicators need to be constantly thinking about creating cross-touchpoint, deep content and social experiences that move consumers to action. It really takes a shift of mindset where we can no longer think of any consumer interaction in isolation. So, stop patting yourself on the back for landing that Today Show hit if you haven’t thought about how it will connect to a “buyable” moment.
I was taken by the observations of Dr. Kit Yarrow, author of Gen BuY, who spoke about consumers’ rapidly changing relationship with brands. She advised that there are big shifts in consumer psychology taking place and in order to address them, brands need to: embrace getting personal, create urgency, make things visual and contextual, believe in delivering “new” at every turn and be real, human, humble and intimate. In the end, it’s about connecting and stimulating your audience in constantly refreshing ways.
As I walk the malls today in search of Columbus Day sales, I’ll keep my eyes and mobile device open for the ways the best brands are courting a receptive shopper. By the way, where’s the strangest place you ever made a purchase?
It’s no secret that the people who exert the most influence over women’s purchase decisions are those nearest to her: family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and her extended social graph. But what continues to confound marketers is reaching and evangelizing this elusive group – particularly the super-influencers who cast the biggest net in her sphere of influence.
A survey released today by Marina Maher Communications (MMC), reveals this elite group – we call them “Influence-Hers” – is surprisingly open to being influenced. But not just by anyone: only particular endorsers and media resonate with her and ultimately move her to activate her extensive social web.
The survey of more than 2,000 women ages 18-59, conducted by the Keller Fay Group, identified “Influence-Hers” as the 12 percent of all women to whom everyday women turn most often for advice. Not only do these women have profound influence within their own inner circles, they can potentially reach hundreds or thousands of others as their activities reverberate online. The average Influence-Her has a social network more than twice the size of the average woman. She engages much more often in activities that create a powerful viral echo effect: “like”ing brands on Facebook, submitting online reviews and posting comments about brands on web sites and forums.
What drives this evangelism? Influence-Hers derive their credibility and social status by being “in the know” – aware of the latest trends and up on the latest news. Her social network considers her a more powerful and credible source than the media, but unlike reporters and bloggers, she often has no special access to information. So she seeks out brand news, trends and innovations, adds her personal twist and then shares it with others.
Today, strong return on investment is expected on virtually every marketing dollar spent. Reaching the women who are most likely to spread brand messages to her broad network offers marketers the most cost effective and efficient way to engage consumers. So considering the power of these uber influencers, what can marketers do to win them over?
- Choose the right endorsers to reach her. One of the most surprising findings of the survey is that this savvy group of women is unusually open to the influence of people that marketers can control, such as celebrities, paid expert endorsers and media. Without exception, Influence-Hers are far more likely to value the advice or opinions of brand endorsers than all women. The key is finding the right endorsers, because category context plays an important role in determining who moves them to action. An endorser who resonates on beauty trends, for example, may fall flat in the health and well being arena.
- Provide her with relevant, share-able information on your web site and social media properties that can enhance her life vs. sell your brand benefits. Information is the coin of her realm; “Did you know?” are her three favorite words. Tap into her desire to share and give her the tools to pass what she learns on to others. She is also an enthusiastic product reviewer, so include review functionality on all brand online properties. Make brand websites a one-stop shop by aggregating brand discussions from across the social web and allowing her to log in to the brand site from a Facebook or Twitter account.
- Show her you care. Because Influence-Hers are, by nature, over represented on brand online sites, chances are the woman sharing her opinion or asking for information has a powerful social graph. So talk to her. Engaging in real conversation and showing you value her opinion will convert her from an observer to an advocate.
You can make Influence-Hers do their best for you with a brand endorser who most effectively resonates with her and set her network in motion. Based on the MMC survey and our knowledge of women, media and brand endorsers, MMC has introduced a comprehensive Brand Influence Model – a research-based tool that maps a brand’s influence with target female consumers and designs appropriate paths to reach her. At the heart of this model is a proprietary algorithm, the MMC Brand Endorser Index: the first quantitative tool to measure the relative influence of potential brand endorsers and their distinctive connection to this powerful group of women, the Influence-Hers.
If you’d like us to send you an overview of our MMC Influencer-Her Study, please click here.
I’m fascinated by the buzz Morgan Spurlock’s new ‘doc-buster’, “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” has received this week. For the uninitiated, this quasi-documentary (by the creative force behind “Super Size Me”) is about the world of product placement as it chronicles Spurlock’s efforts to secure sponsors and placements for the film while poking .. fun at the excesses of advertising, marketing and PR.
The quirky thing about the “Greatest” is that the vast majority of the brands featured actually paid for the somewhat dubious privilege of being in it. Many question, “Why would they do it when they knew Spurlock set out to take down McDonalds in his previous expose?
It’s relatively easy for me to get to that answer for some of the smaller brands such as The Original Mane ‘n Tail hair cleaner for horses. Spell the name right and they get more exposure than they could afford to on their own. But, what about such major brands as Hyatt Hotels (the first “big name” to sign on)? Is this a fit for a brand whose mission is to: provide authentic hospitality by making a difference in the lives of the people we touch every day?
That question gave me some pause. Product placement is neither absolutely good nor bad (in fact, I question whether this movie isn’t about 20 years too late in capturing a marketing issue “of the moment”). To me, it all boils down to authenticity. If the product or brand feels as though it really belongs there and adds to the experience, it works. Placement on Mad Men, for example, often enhances the show as well as the brand.
In a release from this week, Hyatt’s head of marketing rationalized its participation in the movie this way: “Every day guests make Hyatt hotels an integral part of their important life events – once-in-a-lifetime trips, weddings, and make-or-break meetings – as well as everyday business travel and weekend getaways. We saw this film as an opportunity to showcase the Hyatt experience that has led people to choose Hyatt hotels for their travel for more than 50 years.”
Surprisingly, I actually buy that. First, travel is a part of this movie experience, so it is authentic. Second, the Hyatt’s willingness to open its doors to cameras means it must be pretty confident in the consistent brand experience it delivers. Kudos to them. Third, the fact that they are embracing this movie with good humor makes me like them a little bit more. Who knows? That might subconsciously tip the balance the next time I have to choose between a Hyatt and a Sheraton.
Product placement done right has its benefits. On a personal level I think it’s great. Without that sponsorship from the local shopping center on the back of my son’s jersey, there might be no baseball this weekend.
Image: Sony Pictures
I love magic. I’m fascinated by the presentation, how it unfolds, the story it tells and how it takes you to some place almost inconceivable. When that happens at MMC, it’s even more exciting.
I’ve been fortunate to watch some magic unfold for our client head & shoulders these past few weeks. We set out to engage guys in the world of hair and scalp care. Not always an easy task. We wanted to do it by transforming the world’s leading dandruff shampoo into a pop culture icon that would get people talking. A big ambition.
After weeks of hard prep work with the brand and agency partners, we answered the call in breakthrough fashion. Earlier this month, head & shoulders announced that they were taking out a $1 million insurance policy on Pittsburgh Steeler –and brand spokesperson – Troy Polamalu’s trademark hair. The story, initially shared with influential online media, quickly took off like wildfire. In less than a week, more than 1,000 broadcast, print and online stories were filed, complimented by 1000s of tweets, online conversations and comments. The campaign yielded over 600 million media impressions in a matter of days and continues to feed upon itself. People are even trying to sell Troy’s hair on eBay! Male bastions such as Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Mike and Mike in the Morning are keeping discussion of Troy’s hair in the forefront of daily debate.
The announcement kicked off an integrated campaign to bring men – and women – to www.troyshair.com and engage them with the head & shoulders Hair Endurance brand. It’s a really cool place where Troy’s full and thick hair is the star and guys can have fun playing around in it. That may sound a bit weird, but it’s actually hilarious. Consumers are invited to enter debate – the Mane Event – on who has the most iconic hair in NFL history, win great stuff and learn how to “Polamalocize” their Facebook photos. The crowds have truly gone wild!
We always hope our efforts will yield results as full and thick as Troy’s curly mane. Every once in a while, an idea goes there and well beyond. That’s truly magical.
Football NFL Head & Shoulders Marina Maher Communications marketing MMC News P&G Pittsburgh Steelers Polamalooza Polamalu insurance Polamalu shampoo PR Public Relations Social Media Steelers Troy Polamalu Troy Polamalu hair Troy Polamalu’s hair Troy Polamalu head & shoulders Troy’s hair
A few weeks ago my buddy asked to come over and help him put together some patio furniture. The promise: with the two of us, it shouldn’t take long. Really? Three hours later (and one trip home to get my can of WD-40 and power screwdriver), we were done. Phew.
All that time turning screws provided me an opportunity to think. It was no small step for my friend to purchase that furniture. He’d been waiting over 18 months to pull the trigger. During that time, he was content to make do with his aging outdoor set. With a little patching here and there, and some prayers that his larger friends didn’t choose the fragile chair, he made it through. Like many of us, the economy just wasn’t right to write a check that could wait.
This month, he decided to take the plunge. My friend knew he had squeezed as many miles as he could out of those durables. He pushed the limit. There are many other folks out there who are at the same point now. People who have pent-up demand for replacing the borderline “necessities” that they’ve held off on buying as the stock market went south, jobs more tenuous and bonus money a quaint notion.
As a marketer, I observed my friend as he made his move back into the high ticket market. He didn’t go in lightly. He did his research. He looked at dozens of retail websites, scanned peer review lists, read blogs, talked to friends, and prepared to ask hard questions. When he arrived at Costco, he was ready to negotiate and, as a result, actually improved his bargain. He even arranged for some cheap labor
My friend is not unlike many new consumers slowly returning to the market. They are transformed. Informed. Empowered. Ready to deal. Looking to make purchases that will last.
In public relations, credibility is everything. When I started at MMC, they asked me to divulge some fun facts about myself. Amongst those was a question about “who were you inspired by?” I answered, “My grandmother. She was one of Europe’s first female motorcycle stunt drivers.” There were a few skeptical looks.
So, I wanted make sure my credibility remains pristine. Here’s a photo of Betty Plant (aka The Blond Bombshell) with her partner, Cyclone Danny Carter, in 1933 outside of London. The youngest of a large family, she was also the rebel. She became a stunt driver in her teenage years. Her fame came from flying her Triumph bike through burning houses and riding down a tiny ramp from the roof of Wembley stadium to do spectacular jumps. I think it is safe to assume there weren’t nearly the safety precautions in place then that they have now to protect the Robbie Knievels of the world (someone we engaged for our award-winning Dawn program at MMC).
My grandmother was featured in all the major magazines of the day, as well as on the newsreels that used to run at the movie theaters before pictures (the predecessor to today’s CNN Headline News). Lest anyone, think she was just some ruffian, I should also tell you that my grandmother was beautiful and had a very successful career as a model and movie actress.
I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my grandmother well into my 30’s. And, I’m proud to say she had a profound influence on my approach to this business. She made me believe that you should think big and never fear the risk to do something great. You may make a lasting impression.