Consumer Empowerment Turns Your Message & Reputation Into the True Vehicle of Your Brand
As the advertising industry grapples with the profound changes in media, marketing and the emerging empowerment of consumers, the concept of engagement has emerged as 'more of a demand creation' paradigm than the 'reach or awareness focused' paradigm of the past twenty five years.But in all the hype of consumer empowerment, I think it’s very important not to fall into the trap of “consumer control,” a false paradigm which marketers too often embrace when rationalizing this period of great change.
The truth is that consumers now have a voice, they have more choice and can hold marketers accountable as never before. Consumers can quickly organize, mobilize, reward and punish. Their gestures and votes are far more impacting. The ANA is right in suggesting that “truly interactive dialogue” is imperative, and those who don’t “abandon their historic ‘command and control’ model of brand building” will suffer.
So are consumers in control? No. They are more empowered, but there are two sides to this relationship. One side is the marketer and the other the consumer. It takes two to tango, and the balance of power is equalizing, to be sure. Contrary to hype and alarm, marketers have tremendous control over the variables and customer touch points that matter most. The result is that marketers must revisit the fundamentals.
The fundamentals – which you can control – include customer respect, your own innovation and product, your storefronts and your customer service among others. In a world increasingly driven by word of mouth–where reach, awareness trial and loyalty must be earned, not paid for–these factors become the building blocks of your message and your reputation. Your message and your reputation then become the true vehicle of your brand–much more so than any traditional notion of media.
And this is the core issue the ARF seems to be alluding to in its aforementioned statement that engagement is becoming 'more of a demand creation' paradigm than the 'reach or awareness focused' paradigm.
What do you think?
(These were key themes in my recent MediaPost op-ed here.)