Make friends, not ads.™
That’s the message that greeted me when I first opened the Cramer-Krasselt homepage and again when I walked into the lobby for my first interview five months ago. Seemed especially fitting for me as I’ve railed against traditional advertising (“look at me!! come buy my stuff!! Now! Now! Now!”) and traditional PR (“we’re the world’s leading provider of innovative solutions…”) for what seems like forever. Five months after that first interview and six weeks after my first day, I realize that this is much more than a tagline – it’s the future of branding.
For years now, I’ve been telling my teams, my clients, and anyone else who will listen that they need to read the Cluetrain Manifesto, internalize it, and put it into action. In fact, stop reading this post and do yourself a favor and read the 95 theses included in that book. It has really changed the way I think about business, branding, public relations, and advertising. Now, maybe I’m just nieve or I haven’t been in the private sector long enough, but I’m seeing signs that this industry is finally starting to get it. Success isn’t about creating that one really cool ad, but about creating lasting relationships with your employees, your customers, and the public.
Here are a few of the recent articles that I’ve come across that seem to back this up –
Consumers Are Most Likely to Forgive USAA, Hyatt, Chick-fil-A and Costco Because Of Their Customer-Service Records, According to New Research — But Much Less Likely To Forgive Chrysler, US Airways, Comcast and BofA
“Forgiveness is a valuable asset that you earn by consistently meeting customers’ needs, but many companies don’t have enough forgiveness stored up to recover from their miscues”
It’s Time for Advertising to Take a Lesson (Gasp!) from Public Relations
“They’re not your customers; they’re your constituents. It’s been said often, but it bears repeating: People don’t buy brands. They join them. So modern brands must function like political parties, identifying issues, expressing a coherent world view, staging debates and structuring dialogues.”
Social Media Is About Cultivating Community, Not Corralling Cattle
“The harder you try to sell, the more you scare — or simply bore — people away. This central truth is not difficult for brands to understand, but for some reason it is hard for them to internalize and act upon. What is first required is to embrace social relationship-building not as the latest marketing fad, or even as a new reality that has been forced upon you, but as a means to revaluate who you are, what you stand for and why you are in business in the first place.”
“As agencies, we have to be honest with clients and help them figure out how big or small their footprint should be in an ever-expanding social universe. Are we crafting community strategies with the brands’ objectives truly in mind? Marketers should take the time to step back, look at how many things their consumers have in common and build social presences around what their customers care about and why they are connecting.”
Business is about scale, so if you’re saying that marketing / PR / branding should be about making friends, that seems hard to scale. How do you do so?
It IS about making friends and no, friends don’t scale nearly as well as hits, impressions, likes, and fans, but they’re a hell of a lot more valuable. The mentality that everything has to scale, that every business needs to get bigger as fast as possible has to change. That’s the fear that people have about the Facebook IPO – that they’ll stop innovating for their users and focus more on just getting new users. Look at what Yahoo did to Flickr – that’s what only focusing on scale will do to your business.