Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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In Chris Brogan’s new book, Trust Agents he talks about how when people first encounter a game they start out as players, then the best players eventually become hackers and even reprogrammers of the game.  If you ever really got into a video or computer game, you will remember that you found cheat codes to find hidden doors, get more lives, that kind of thing.

The metaphor to marketing is bone-rattling.

1970s-1990s marketing was about playing.  Marketing research tools reinforced this.  We would find what attributes were important, what the perceptual map looked like, and then strategy was formed.  “Gee, our brand needs to shore up its attribute rating here, or we need to move to a different place on the map”—these were the kinds of growth ideas we looked for.  No great gamer would stop there, but we did.

Someone who hacks a game finds a different way.  Let’s hack marketing.

Make something important that wasn’t important before to consumers.  Traditional research tools would not report on the importance of adding calcium to orange juice until someone (Minute Maid, I believe) thought of it.  Procter is trying to hack the game by working the purchase funnel back from the store rather than forward from the awareness generation stage.  Bravo!  Follow the path to purchase! Create apps for the iPhone (as Kraft did) that bring the connection between brand and customer into the store in a novel way; it almost disintermediates the retailer as the controller of purchase choices.  I thank Herb Sorensen from TNS for sharing this powerful idea at our last shopper insights council.

A reprogrammer will go even further; they will invent a new game.  They will change culture (as Crispin, Porter+Bogusky suggested at our last annual conference), or find a blue ocean strategy.

Social media offers the ability to hack and even reprogram the marketing game…for both the marketer and the consumer. Britain’s Got Talent did not create Susan Boyle; people enabled by social media did. Ford is reintroducing the Fiesta via giving cars to influential bloggers so they can talk about and video their experiences. Procter is launching a new beauty magazine called “Rouge” by working closely with mommy bloggers.  In both of these cases, the marketing (and marketing research) game is hacked:

  • The marketer is sharing control
  • The brand communication is self-perpetuating if people CHOOSE to make it so
  • While performance metrics might still come from traditional research, the real insights are more likely to come from LISTENING to the conversations and signals about these products in social media.

Use social media to hack marketing.

Use social media to hack marketing research by making LISTENING a big part of your insights generation program.

If these ideas ring true to you, I urge you to join us on November 3rd, to hear Chris in his own words, to learn from the ARF about the full range of listening tools and to hear how leading marketers, agencies, and researchers are using them.

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