Marketing with a Mirror

What makes great marketing? I think it’s when you can really see, through the eyes of your customer, how great it is to use your product and are able reflect the emotions and passion related to the use of your product back to the masses.

I’ve studied marketing and word of mouth for 20 years. Marketers love control, but over the last several years of social media growth we, as marketers, feel we’ve lost some control. That’s not a bad thing. If you have a great product or service and you know how to facilitate rather than broadcast, you can catapult past competition.

In 1995 I wrote a book called “How to Market WITH Computer User Groups.” Back then, user group leaders and members (i.e. the geeks) were the analog version of every person in today’s digital participation culture.  The point of the capitalized “WITH” in the book title is that it was ineffective to market “TO” user group leaders. The only way to be effective was for them to be the voice. It was important for them to own the message. And for the marketer, to enable them by reflecting the voice of the customers back onto them. Marketing with a mirror.

Today, that principle is true far beyond 4,000 user groups in 1995…it’s applicable to hundreds of millions of consumers with a keyboard, tablet and phone. Did you know in 12 years 75% of the workforce will be made up of Millenials who have grown up in the participation culture? We’ve already seen the pull that technology and this generation has on marketing. If you haven’t figured out how to harness and integrate that participation into your own marketing, then you have truly lost control.

I know companies who think of their social strategy in terms of a putting up a Facebook page, getting likes or just tweeting to followers. But did you know that approximately only 7% of your Facebook fans see your posts and .002% engage in those posts? I don’t know about you, but my Twitter stream is filling up and passing me by.

When you integrate social content (earned media) into your ‘owned’ media (your mirrors), you are reflecting the voice of customers back to the masses. You are giving customers the social proof they need to be engaged and interested, because what they are watching is assumedly a reflection of themselves. Moreover, when customers see that they are being recognized and are reflected, they are more likely to participate themselves. It’s why we saw a 600% increase in Tweets when we put up a Twitter counter on XFactor.  Even more than TV, marketers own lots of mirrors. In fact, it’s getting out of control how many digital surfaces marketers have to manage. They need help.

I’m betting our company that the next phase of marketing will be integration of real-time, relevant social content & experiences into owned media. I’m in good company, with Shiv Singh (VP at Pepsi and Mass Relevance client) having bet his career on the concept of real-time marketing…a related concept.  These ideas combine the need of your audience to see themselves in a social mirror with the requirement of marketers to ‘be in control’ (airquotes). Growth of participation and user generated content is not slowing. The fragmentation of your customers’ attention across a growing distribution of digital surfaces is not slowing. And the desire for participatory experiences continues to expand amongst a population that will be spending towards your growth.

As a word-of-mouth marketer and customer advocate enthusiast, being part of this next epoch in marketing is a blast! Or as my toddler might say, it’s “funner”. In the coming months you will see more from Mass Relevance on new ways you can integrate social experiences into your marketing activities. And how we can have fun together!

Oh what the hell…just call us now. It’s hard to keep secrets from future clients!

Sam Decker's picture

Sam Decker

Sam Decker is a current member of the Spredfast board. Sam most recently served as the CEO and co-founder of Mass Relevance (now Spredfast). Prior to Mass Relevance, Sam was founding Chief Marketing Officer at Bazaarvoice, a provider of SaaS social commerce technologies serving over 1,000 brands, where he was responsible for building the company’s brand, products and platform.