The consumer as CMO

As we embrace the idea that consumers are the new marketers, we need new tactics and communication techniques to engage them on behalf of our clients.

As we embrace the idea that consumers are the new marketers, we need new tactics and communication techniques to engage them on behalf of our clients. According to a recent UM blog post, the appeal of brands today “might just be the humanity and vulnerability that is demonstrated through a willingness to reveal themselves and be open to feedback from the masses.”

To tap the masses we must be open to truly engaging consumers in the process. One approach is to utilize open innovation like Dell has done by offering challenges to create products, or inviting consumers to develop marketing campaigns. The winner of the user-generated Doritos' (client) “Crash the Super Bowl” ad campaign was named most popular by USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter – and it cost less than $2,000.

Another technique is to turn to the masses for storylines. Probably the best focus group available is on the Web via memes. When a brand goes where consumers are passionate, like when Hebrew National (client) appealed to football fans with its hot dog giveaway, fans are converted to brand enthusiasts. To succeed takes deep product knowledge and passionate teams who also understand the tenets of social marketing.

A third approach is to place clients' messages where consumers are already searching for information. For instance, to launch its “Go Forth” campaign and drive traffic to its Web site, Levi's (client) posted Ernest Shackleton's call for Antarctic explorers on Craigslist. Being more open-minded in where we place our clients' information can drive more targeted consumers to their brands and their messages.

From cosmetics to soft drinks to tech companies, there are many success stories to emulate.

The key to success in navigating the user-generated marketplace is managing the risks, recognizing the benefits, and ceding control to the consumer.

Barri Rafferty, senior partner and director, Ketchum New York

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