Marketing is gradually becoming more democratized. Brands all over the world are running ad campaigns designed by their most loyal customers. They are engaging customers and letting them get involved in shaping the brands they love. So is it really that these customers are so loyal and love the brand that much, or is more about people being passionate about their lives and the products and services they choose to surround themselves with?
Either way, who really cares. Brands are defining who their true advocates are and allowing them to have a voice in shaping the future vision (or at least some ad campaigns). For example, Mercedes-Benz solicited the car owners to send in photos of themselves with their beloved and used them for their ad campaigns. They received thousands of photos!
KFC ran a contest for consumers to come up with the next commercial and the winner ran at during prime time TV. Coors Light ran a similar contest in Canada. Of course sometimes these contests are geared to film majors and marketing professionals but most of them are truly meant for consumer participation.
So why are brands redefining the way they marketing?
“Push” style advertising and messaging is on its way out. At least for a while. As new generations emerge, new technologies are embraced, and the world brushes off the dust (that is still settling) from the recession, consumer behavior is changing completely. People want to be heard and they want to know who is behind the brands they love. This is of course why Internet marketing and social media are some of the fastest growing “marketing” strategies out there. Its because it really isn’t marketing – it is customer interaction and conversation. Social media is not a conversation, it is where a conversation happens. Brands need to encourage their advocates to speak out. The strongest possible foundation for any company is one where the customer plays the biggest role in messaging.
Companies often fear losing control when deciding whether or not to let customers on the “inside”. The fact is, companies don’t have control over the conversations that are happening online, they never did. It is better to embrace it and get involved than ignore it. That only leads to disaster over time.