In the Beginning…

…marketers were able to control their message in all facets. As a business, you had 100% say over what messages about your brand were being received. Some (many) are still clinging to the idea that they can accomplish resonance via pushing messages out to consumers. Meanwhile, there are others out there that realize this is simply not possible. You can no more push messages and expect that to be a holistic view of what your receivers see, think or feel about your brand, than you can expect the telegraph to come back. Sorry, but the private business sector and general public have discovered the cell phone of marketing.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, so don’t despair! There are a multitude of ways to influence brand perception and still be effective at promoting your company. Let’s look at a couple of them.

Permission Marketing

Did somebody say Hand-Raiser? Well, permission marketing is the term that most aligns with my own personal quest to create hand raisers for companies. In two short words I can give you the essence, and they are “opt-in.” This can be difficult for some brands, as they don’t treat their potential consumers as a “friend” but as a “conquest.”

We have conversations with friends but we shout at conquests. Herein lies the difficulty of some businesses, agencies and marketing professionals with permission marketing. “How can we get people to opt-in”? they ask. Well, the shouter’s worst enemies can also be it’s closest allies – technology and creativity. The following list outlines some tools and tricks to build an opt-in list.

  • Start a conversation and ask permission to message further.
  • Ask for email addresses and phone numbers on your website
  • Create a loyalty program and put contact information on the sign-up form.
  • Hold experiential events requiring contact information for involvement
  • Foster a community that invites others to invite others

In these ways, and others you can increase the percentage of message receivers that will pay attention to you. I recommend Seth Godin’s book, ‘Permission Marketing‘ for a full education on this topic. It is still relevant.

Brand Advocacy

Brand advocates can truly change the perception of your company. Clutter is the main reason shouting no longer works as an advertising tactic. Plus, it is tough for one entity to compete against the innumerable blogs, social networks and review sites that will certainly create a user-centric perception of your brand.

Thus, it is necessary for companies to create brand advocates. These people are influencers whom have hopefully had positive experiences with your brand that can engage their networks. You’ve heard that two sets of eyes are better than one – try hundreds or dozens.

Ford accomplished brand advocacy with the Fiesta Movement, where they handed over Ford Fiesta keys to bloggers and left them alone to do their thing. Ford helps promote the movement by allowing a platform for the bloggers to be heard; an engaging website that is immersive enough to draw in the cynics and an otherwise hands-off approach that makes the influencers believable.

The following outlines some other ways to promote brand advocacy.

  • Get your employees involved
  • Engage your fans on social networks
  • Give something to get something (if you can afford it)
  • Ask! Facebook fan does not equal advocate
  • Engage demographically and psychographically relevant non-users of your brand
  • Have a personality that promotes conversation

Imagine having 200, 2,000 or 20,000 individuals messaging their own networks for you in a non-intrusive way. When it comes to cutting through the clutter, brand advocacy can be a tempered steel sword that changes your identity, one person at a time.

Messages are like teenagers; if you try to control them too much you will make them go rogue. Egalitarianism is the rule of the day. Heavy influencers can have as much control over your brand identity as your hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising expense. Since this is the case, make sure you leverage this paradigm in marketing and advertising to your advantage.

I love examples, so tell me about some permission marketing or brand advertising successes you have created. I would also like to hear about some other non-interruptive marketing tactics you might use.

Thanks for reading, now go be brilliant!

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About Therran Oliphant

I am a strong advocate for developing the academic and practical field of Integrated Marketing Communications. I was lucky enough to be a part of the third class of Master's Degree level students at Eastern Michigan University on the subject, and have been touting the need for businesses to methodically link all communications since learning the intricacies of how it works. Whether your business is yourself, a product, or a service the rule that the brand's messages and communications should be as coordinated as a beautiful sonata holds true. Effective business communication can mean the difference between failing, surviving and thriving - which do you want to be the reality of your business?