In a keynote address at the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) annual Transformation Conference, Procter & Gamble’s Global Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard exhorted marketers to focus on ideas over technology: “Forget thinking about how to make a Vine or send out the most clever tweet. Instead, focus on how to connect to consumers using ideas so big they’ll work on any platform.”
Coming from the world’s largest marketer, I hope the marketing community takes note of his message that ideas trump technology.
Social marketing is hugely important. It has a direct and measurable impact on sales, and it makes marketing investment more successful. This is not as a result of particular platforms or technologies — it is because consumers themselves are highly social, and one of the many ways they engage in social connections is via technology. While social media is big and growing, it is still dwarfed by the analog world in which people live and interact. More than 90 percent of the conversations that take place every day in America happen offline in real life.
Start With a Story
To get people talking, you need to start with a story. The brands that enjoy consistent social success are those that start with a big and compelling idea that consumers will want to talk about with others. You need a process that puts the compelling idea at the forefront.
An agency that has a well-earned reputation for creating ads that spark buzz is Crispin Porter. It does this by requiring the creative team to submit their ideas in the form of a press release, thus forcing them to think about the idea that is likely to get communicated via earned media. “If you’ve got a great idea people will talk about it, and that fact is just amplified by social media,” Crispin’s Chief Creative Rob Reilly says. “I don’t think it’s going to work if you go on there with the idea of blowing an idea up on Twitter.”
Ideas are also at the center of the remarkable success that Kimberly-Clark has had with U by Kotex. If ever there was a category that was devoid of innovation for many years — and a category that is used but not much talked about — it is feminine hygiene. U by Kotex changed all that.
Central to the success of U by Kotex is the importance their marketing team places in the “commercial idea,” which is the starting point for new products at K-C. In effect, they want the innovation itself to be talkworthy — that is, unique and worthy of being recommended. The marketing then flows out of that new commercial idea. And so does the social sharing, both offline and online.
The idea, or message, needs to come first in the marketing process. After that, choose your target consumers, with particular emphasis on those consumers who most likely have social influence over others. Your most valuable consumer today is not necessarily the one who makes the most individual purchases, but rather provides you with the greatest social value in terms of advocating to others and persuading them to become a customer, too.
Finally, should the focus be on particular media or technology platforms? We now have more tools at our disposal than ever before for distributing our message in a way that drives social sharing — including new media as well as so-called “traditional” — but rather than fall in love with the platform of the month, long-term success starts with the idea.