“Connect the Dots” – Implementing Consumer Cartography

As brands become more involved on platforms and begin the “lifestyle integration” phase of their maturity, it’s necessary that the correct channels are mapped accordingly to the appropriate user journey. What this means is that we get to turn back time and play a big game of “Connect the Dots.” As advertisers and marketers, we have an ever growing list of channels or touch points that we reach, connect with, and engage with our consumers; some of which live in disparate silos from others, which is why “Connecting the Dots” is so crucial.

What this means is that we get to turn back time and play a big game of “Connect the Dots.”

By understanding the various touch points and mapping out where they live in the lifecycle of purchase funnel, we can begin to track and develop user journeys that not only provide a positive decision, but also add value along the way, furthering the strength and engagement with our brand. This exercise also allows us to better understand where these touch points live within the daily lifestyle of the consumer and their cultural implications towards different communications within their life. This power has the potential to open doors of opportunity through effective messaging, through the proper channels at the most opportune time within the purchase journey.

Once identified, we take out our pen and start “Connecting the Dots.” Align the different platforms with the particular messaging and calls to action to ensure activity and sustainability throughout the process. A dead end or unfulfilled promise may lead to defection or confusion. Ensure the communication leads closer towards an objective or end goal. Working in silos will likely develop these dead ends or confused messages. To provide a holistic experience that is sustainable throughout a long-term relationship, the playing field has to be identified; which is why the aforementioned identification of the various touch points is critical.

A dead end or unfulfilled promise may lead to defection or confusion.

A successful game of connecting the dots allows us, as marketers, to see the entire picture vividly while the user is experiencing our brand the best way for their particular life, needs, and cultural implications. Along the way, delight your consumer, give them something exciting to engage with, fulfill promises, and over deliver. The best “connect the dots” from my child hood were the ones that rewarded with an amazing picture; the ones that delighted me when I could start seeing the holistic experience. This is what we strive for as brand advocates… The excitement for the integration of the holistic experience.

This is what we strive for as brand advocates… The excitement for the integration of the holistic experience.

Originally posted @ blackwhalegroup.com

Community or Commodity

There has been something that’s been bugging me for the past few years. This is the word “community.” It has quickly become one of the most overused and improperly utilized words in the business buzz word dictionary. Why? Self-proclaimed “social media gurus” have diminished the absolute power of what a community is by associating anyone who “likes” a brand to get a coupon as being someone who is part of a brand culture, a subsection of a larger society, a group of individuals who align with specific characteristics and values, a community. But, as we all know, this is utter bullshit. Where is the loyalty on behalf of the coupon hound customer who is “liking” my page because I have a coupon, even if they are nowhere close to my target demographic? There is none. Once a competitor offers a better coupon they’re gone. Sayonara. Not someone whom I’d personally put stake in within my own communities. This level of engagement leads to a commoditized community based on commoditized offerings with no end goal of something deeper… “Communities” then just become another stat to communicate the success of a Facebook page.

Commoditizing a conversation forces engagement around features and benefits, not emotion.

But, for sake of communicating the valuable importance of this post, I will be using the term community (against my will) for what it truly is, as defined below.

So what is a community? Dictionary.com defines it as “[a] group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.

Facebook defines these as “Groups.” Google+ defines them as “Circles.” Twitter even defines them as “Lists.” It seems as though the social space has really latched on to the idea of communities, but are we really setting our brands and companies up for success? Or are we approaching commoditized conversations with the real value exchange as being a coupon or an entry into a sweepstakes?

My personal thoughts, is that the end goal with any social venture is to develop and grow strong relationships with individuals whose values align with ours; whose ideals are shared among others; whose passions and affinities are aligned with those of our brand. Achieving this goal helps us create a place where like-minded individuals whose interests, values, and passions are shared; to develop a “community” around the core, emotionally driven differentiating factors of our brand. Doing so allows us to better understand and engage with those we serve. It provides us with the opportunity to learn and grow; make our products better; communicate them more effectively; identify opportunities for growth and expansion; and most of all, allows us to come together and accomplish the same goal, make our lives better.

So are you building a community or a commodity?