Monday, September 19, 2005

:: adgruntie :: How to connect to consumers

+ An interesting article on connecting to consumers from the Independent.
Corporations seek a "competitive" edge over the competition. Increasingly, their answer is to attempt to build long-term "emotional" relationships between brands and consumers. Brands are becoming "involved" in peoples' lives as never before. It's as Confucius said: "Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I will remember. Involve me, and I will understand."
In this new thinking, the conventional tactics using television, radio, press and posters amount to didactic messages from advertisers to consumers. One-way messages talk at people, not with people. And people are sick of being talked at.
But emotional links can be created by developing "dialogue" between brands and consumers, crediting people with intelligence and encouraging participation.
I can't argue with this. In fact I really agree with it. Although I do think that there are ways using the traditional media to accomplish some, but not all, of the emotional/entertainment/etc that has been relegated to only viral or WOM or whatever.

The rest of the article goes on to tout the "glorious" properties of WOM and viral. I have yet to be totally won over by either of these myself. Yes, they can be very effective, I won't argue that. But, they also can fail. What happens when you start a WOM campaign and the product or service can't live up to the praise your actors are shilling? What happens when you think you'll just create a viral but the concept is lame and no one cares to pass it along? Just because it's viral or WOM doesn't guarantee success. There still has to be a solid idea behind it...or in the case of WOM...a solid product or benefit that actually works and is liked by people.

The other thing that I have to wonder about in regards to WOM is what will consumers think when they find out that they are being deceived by actors - paid to talk up a product and pretending to be some ordinary Joe Schmo on the street? I've yet to hear of any backlash or an OK feeling on this. But I do think that it could have the potential to do damage to a brand that is trying to create a bond with a possible or current consumer. The article talks about building relationships, but when they are built on deceit, and eventually found out, can it be a lasting one?

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