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.