These days, consumers are more involved and educated than ever before in terms of their purchasing decisions. For marketers, this is a powerful opportunity to reach consumers directly and win them over for life. However, it is critical to target customers directly at the level of their emotional response to a marketing campaign or product and get them invested in the vision and life of a brand.
Today’s effective marketing techniques combine traditional methods with modern strategies to engage consumers, who are digitally social and brand savvy. With an abundance of information and entertainment options at customers’ fingertips, it’s imperative to capture their attention and provide something of value. However, it is not always so easy for brands to articulate their core vision and to create a memorable encounter for consumers through marketing efforts.
A successful marketing campaign markets with consumers instead of at them through participatory marketing. Built upon the foundation of traditional marketing, this new modus operandi allows brands to flourish in the Digital Age. Brands can now tell their backstories, communicate with their customers in real time, skillfully design their futures, and so much more through a transmedia narrative. With countless technologies and platforms in existence, brands have more tools than ever to create effective marketing strategies.
Indeed, brands should find a balance of content creation and customer engagement to really draw in modern consumers. With the emergence of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and content curation platforms such as Pinterest, customers expect to be included in the brand’s experience in rewarding and innovative ways.
This is why it is so important to consider consumer emotional response as a factor in marketing. Information-hungry customers want to feel like they are a part of a brand’s intimate circle and want to take part in how a brand takes shape and the products it markets. In short, consumers want brands to know who they are and vice versa, even if this is only a marketing illusion.
Three Examples of Effective Participatory Marketing Campaigns
1. ModCloth’s ‘Color Yourself Lucky’ Contest: Earlier this month, ModCloth asked its fans to sign into ModCloth and create a wishlist, then share the wishlist with their friends on their favorite social networks. This contest provided fresh content for the ModCloth blog as well the social networks it participates in. It also encouraged consumers to window shop, spending time on their site and hopefully making purchases along the way. Since the contest required a sign-in, there was some good, old-fashioned permission marketing and client acquisition at play. However, this contest also reminded ModCloth’s fans that they were appreciated and regarded as a creative, important influence on their brand.
2. GUESS’s ‘Color Me Inspired’ Contest: GUESS recently held a color-themed curation contest on Pinterest, the popular female-dominated social network. The brand asked participants to create pinboards which expressed how color inspired them. GUESS tapped a few popular style bloggers to judge the contest, further showing that it is aware of modern methods of reaching its customers. Since Pinterest allows easy social sharing options on networks such as Twitter and Facebook, the Pinterest platform provided a unique way for GUESS to broaden its reach, while also proving that it is present in the places that its customers enjoy spending time on the Web.
3. IWC Schaffhausen and Galapagos: In 2011, Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen launched a campaign for its Aquatimer watch collection in support of the brand’s involvement with the Charles Darwin Foundation. Highlighting its focus on saving the Galapagos, the brand was able to quietly market its Aquatimer collection through a series of well-placed print ads and multimedia content and video on its iPad app and new iPhone app. While many brands focus on social responsibility as a way of marketing their products, few have successfully brought consumers into the vision of their brand and its products so successfully across digital platforms in this way. IWC’s apps for iPad and iPhone are sleek, elegant, and innovative, which make it fun to learn more about its products and its involvement with environmental causes.
In all, like traditional marketing, digital tools really are at their most powerful with a targeted and authentic brand voice and methodology. It is no longer enough to market an idea and hope that consumers will catch on. A brand must treat consumers like privileged, close friends to secure their loyalty and ongoing interest in both a brand’s products and its overall vision.
Jessica Quillin, Ph.D., and Krista Peck, M.S., are the co-founders of Atelier 36, a strategic consultancy focused on solutions for the luxury, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle industries. You can follow them on Twitter @Atelier36.