I had the pleasure of hosting a Brand Innovators panel late last month here in San Francisco. When Ted Rubin asked me to moderate the panel on Consumer Engagement, I jumped at the chance; the topic is close to my heart and the panelists, top notch. I spoke for a half hour with Dusty DiMercurio, head of Content Marketing, Autodesk; Michael Lattig, Head of Marketing at Faraday Bikes; Jami Miskie, Director, Guest Marketing at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and Mac Tillman, VP Marketing/General Manager at Big Heart Pet Brands (the makers of Meow Mix and MilkBone, among others.) This panel with very diverse backgrounds brought great insight to the topic of the day…The Future of Media and Consumer Engagement.
I started by talking about the just-released Edelman Trust Barometer: about how trust is earned and not given, and the challenges with engaging consumers in an ever more “noisy” environment. Michael Lattig had some great thoughts on this, talking about how “word of mouth” is the oldest and most trusted marketing platform and how there are now technologies which deliver social megaphones to people who are “digital neighbors.” Mac Tillman joined in, explaining the absolute certainty “old top-down, Voice of God” marketing is not the right approach. Dusty DiMercurio defined this function as Relationship Marketing and brought some eastern philosophy to the conversation, wondering if trust and consumer engagement wasn’t a bit karmic; you have to give it away to get it. Dusty said he thought about changing his LinkedIn profile to “Karmic Marketer.” I dared him to do just that: he hasn’t so far!
— Pavey Purewal (@PaveyPurewal) January 28, 2016
Next we talked about Consumer Engagement technologies, like social and mobile. Again, quoting the Edelman Trust Barometer, I spoke about the Inversion of Influence where today peer-to-peer influence is more powerful than “top-down” or branded content. Dusty DiMercurio started off the conversation talking about Autodesk’s employee advocacy program called Bonfire. Giving Autodesk employees a way to tell their stories on social via employee advocacy tells the Autodesk story in that peer-to-peer, most trusted method. Mac Tillman talked about consumer engagement from a CPG perspective. The cost of building one-on-one relationships and engaging with CPG consumers can get high in relation to a box of MilkBones. He mentioned a one-to-one pet centric content hub. Jami talked about how social listening powers #KimptonLove and they focus on rewarding guest behaviors for their new rewards program. Finally, Michael Lattig reminded us that who your audience is matters. The Faraday Bike customer base/persona skews older, and is not very social media minded. Faraday went “old school” with consumer engagement methods: they delivered physical customer appreciation kits, including bike patches and business cards with a discount for them to carry around and hand out when people ask about the bike. “Meet the customer where they are!” emphasized Lattig.
The last topic we covered was upcoming trends for media and consumer engagement. Mac Tillman spoke about how personalization, automation and mobile need to work together to drive engagement all the way through purchase. Additionally, too much focus on ROI can sometimes hinder motivation to innovate. Jami talked about bringing the IoT (internet of Things) concept to hotel stays, extending the Connected Home into the hotel room. A final point we all agreed on is that in the end, the customer and consumers will always be leading us and it is our job to keep up and drive engagement on their terms.
Thanks to Ted Rubin and Brand innovators for inviting me to moderate this very informative panel. Are you testing or implementing new ideas for consumer engagement? I’d love to hear about them @PaveyPurewal.