Social Media, A Lateral Approach to Marketing

Bombardment should wither
Traditional marketing is usually a head on approach where marketers carpet bomb screaming messages fighting for the attention of their community. Today, social media is really a lateral strategy. The most savvy brands will figure out how to “energize” customers so they tell others about the company and it’s products. There’s no argument that prospects trust actual customers more than marketers or advertisers.

[Many marketers get social media wrong, they apply traditional marketing tactics (yelling) to the new tools, and miss the biggest opportunities –letting customers tell the story for them]

I did a boomerang trip to Las Vegas (in under 24 hours) to speak at Intel’s annual sales and marketing conference, (alongside with Allastair Duncan of MRM, John Battelle of Federated Media, and good friend Jennifer Jones of Marketing Voices) they completely packed the venetian as over 5,400 employees assembled to talk about how to best connect with customers. While I’m not going to share any secrets, I can tell you that the focus on Social Media at Intel is moving at full steam. Out of the B2B tech companies, they’re one of the ones that are applying it to events, interacting with customers in communities such as Open Port, hosting blogger dinners, have a presence in SecondLife and are creating many videos and podcasts. For the most part, Intel gets it right, social media is being used by a wide group of marketers, and with varied levels of experimentation.

Benefits: When customers sing your praises
For a company that’s a component of an end product, being top of mind is a key. I learned that 25% of the global audience prefers Intel over other brands, 75% may be indifferent. I suggested that new marketing using social media is a great way to get that 25% to tell the other 75% what they like about Intel. They should develop a platform that enables customers to be the voice of the company, and to gain more, they need to let go. How to do this? let customers create messages, create advertisements, let them sing the praises from their blogs, and social network profiles. The company should be a supporter, echo and amplify customers, not force them into a corner.

Risks: Letting go to gain more
Sure there are risks of customers saying negative things about your brand, or competitors jumping in to derail, but with it comes rewards of authentic testimonials from customers, nothing is more powerful than that. Negative feedback? Consider it free customer insight, where you can then use it to fix your products, and come back to customers and show them they impact they helped you make. Develop a comfort zone by setting expectations up front to management and internal teams that like the real world, uncertainty is part of this.

Lateral marketing energizes your customers
Rather than focus on bombardment and forced marketing, companies like Intel, and perhaps yours, should consider that the most effective marketing, is the lateral approach where customers evangelize to your prospects on your behalf.

17 Replies to “Social Media, A Lateral Approach to Marketing”

  1. “For a company that™s a component of an end product, being top of mind is a key.”

    I realize that, to Intel, being “top of mind” is critical. However, I don’t think that’s a sustainable strategy, as Intel doesn’t really offer anything to the TYPICAL end consumer.

    Just imagine if all of the components in your favorite electronics were blanketing media.

    “BigCo LEDs are the best!!! Buy a monitor with them today!”

    “MegaCo speaker membranes rock your world! Buy earphones only with the little green MegaCo Clarity logo.”

    Maybe, back in the day, they saw a bump in sales with the Intel Inside campaign. It was novel, and people remembered it. At some point, however, the effect wore off.

    In the long run, unless they sell the product directly to the end consumer, they are likely not getting true return on investment. Yes, I realize that they are doing incredible calculations constantly and have proof that they make money off of these campaigns.

    However, consumers are not chip experts. Make your product the best product ever made and forge amazing relationships with the people that build things with your product. They are your true customers and will help evangelize it for you.

    The small group of customers that actually thinks about that component is going to buy the product because your component is better, not because they saw a commercial.

  2. Letting the audience tell the story is a magic trick.

    Magicians have always performed and showed a story, but it is the audience who leaves and retells the story with amazement and such hyperbole that viral campaigns start without the magician saying a word, but merely doing what he does best, magic.

    Companies should tell a story, give a performance(display your competitive advantage) and let the audience retell and build up the story.

    Letting go is a key part in getting to this stage, but you explain it well. When will they learn?

  3. Chris, although we are a piece of someone elses branded product, we are a very, very important piece.

    Your post is an excellent example of why it is so important that we do a better job connecting with end users to build brand relavance and prefence.

    Take a look at this video from CES. Check out the reactions and the connections people have to our technology. They are not chip experts, but when they literally have the technology in hand, they understand the value.

  4. It™s always interesting to hear how Social Media marketing is developing and even more interesting to hear how it can be applied to firms like Intel. Social Media marketing has been at the forefront of thought as I research various sites/technologies and in general assess the lay of the land in how these sites/technologies are employed. The concept of facilitating customer evangelists is one that I™m familiar with, but as social media sites become more mature I am continually curious to see case studies exemplifying where social media marketing has excelled and/or failed. The failures are easy to pick out, but the success stories are a little more elusive.

    The fundamental challenge that most companies face is the focus on risk versus reward. This focus on risk inevitably hinders corporate activity where as for an individual the risk seems to be more easily absorbed. As an individual who uses social media day in and day out the focus on risk can be a challenge to fathom, but one that needs to be respected, understood and addressed. Although I appreciate your call for customer evangelism and the employment of Social Media marketing I can tell you from first hand experience to make this happen in a non-start up is easier said than done.

    As a web strategist Social Media marketing is a huge interest and I look forward to seeing how it continues to develop for companies big and small.

  5. JO, a fantastic article that I really appreciated. Hit the nail on the head for me and made me realise WHY I was doing all the things I was doing… setting up groups and fan pages and all the rest for my favourite spots (in life / home).

    I have 2 angles/perspectives though – and I have still yet to work out how Social Media “fits” into my corporate world and this has really given me an insight – that’s it’s not me that needs to “make it fit”… (although targeting engineers/skills etc like E&Y have is a great idea).

    Anyway, great food for thought yet again.
    cheers xc

  6. JO — I heard you and Jennifer Jones made a big splash at the Palazzo! So glad you were there to share your wisdom and great energies with so many of my Intel pals.

    I’d say that folks like Bob and many others are working to keep and improve “Intel relevance” in people’s lives — and breaking down internal barriers and changing behaviors for the better.

    Intel continues working with so many big, media and small companies, so I believe our storytelling, tip sharing, the opening and joining conversations not only helps Intel remain buzzworthy…it breaths inspiring rhythm and beat into the devices that many other brands around the world create for consumers and businesses. It’s no longer “Intel today announced.” Instead, it’s more about seeing how Intel keeps innovating at breakneck speed and empowering others to do and make great things. Connecting and celebrating what we have in common strikes the best chord.

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