Your brand: The bridge to community

This post is cross-posted over on The Engaged Consumer, Powered’s company blog.

Bridge to CommunityMy colleagues Aaron Strout and Bill Fanning have gotten a great conversation started around the difficulty of connecting community with a brand that seems not quite as “community ready,” starting with a recent post titled “Would you join a Toothpaste Community?

This is a question we get all the time in initial sales calls with savvy brand marketers. They get social marketing, but can’t quite see how people could ever get excited about their product – that is, excited enough to engage at a deeper level within a branded community. Aaron suggested a nice approach where you categorize your offering and look to commonly effective strategies. I’ll add to that by suggesting an additional approach that is a little more zen.

Alright, clear your mind. Let’s imagine that you are in a room with your ad agency and you are trying to brainstorm a new ad campaign. They will likely put you through a series of exercises designed to explore what you want your brand to mean to consumers. What are you really selling? Where is the point at which your product or service connects with something your potential buyer really cares about? Answering these questions allows your agency to produce a 30-second spot or a print campaign that more powerfully engages your target audience.

You might offer auto insurance, but you’re really selling safety and comfort. You might serve coffee, but you’re really selling opportunity and energy. You might be a toothpaste manufacturer, but you’re really selling health and good looks.

Before someone ever considers buying your insurance, coffee, or toothpaste, they have to be in the mode of being safer, being opportunity-driven, feeling healthy. That’s why TV commercials never start with the product that’s being sold, they start with images that evoke those feelings and then end with product. What I would suggest is that while these lifestyle elements are the secret to effective ad campaigns, they are also your bridge to an effective, high-return social marketing strategy.

What about a social marketing program centered on how to make your family safer: in your home, on the road, on the Internet? What about a program about how be more productive, more organized, more energetic? What about a program centered around total health, personal appearance, effective presentation? These are passion points for people, and it’s where you already get them to care about you. So why not deepen and broaden that brand-relevant interaction with online community? Bring in experts, engage celebrities, turn your compelling 30-second spot into a compelling conversation.

As in many things, the secrets to success here aren’t necessarily in some new playbook. They are hidden in what you already know. Why do people care about what you’re selling?

Photo Credit: Originally Uploaded by Carolyn from Lucky Planet Photography

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