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Published 12 June 2012 05:06, Updated 13 June 2012 06:53
I have been expounding the virtues of brands becoming far more data-centric in their approach to marketing and communications for some time. No company understands this better than The Coca-Cola Company. Marketing is going through a rapid transformation driven by the mainstream adoption of social media and in turn, this transformation is changing the way companies view their communications. In August last year, the vice-president of global advertising strategy for Coca-Cola, Jonathan Mildenhall, created a YouTube video [http://bit.ly/cokedigital ] showing how the company is approaching this changing landscape and how it will affect its creative output.
This video is challenging for the traditional advertising model in every respect. The first statement is that Coca-Cola is moving from a company built on “creative excellence” to one that is focused on “content excellence”. This is the company’s way of acknowledging that it no longer controls what is being said about its brands. Yet this is an opportunity to be seized with both hands. Coke plans to use social media to tell stories that cannot be controlled; stories that become infectious.
This move to “content excellence” is the way all brands should be thinking about marketing in the coming years. It applies to both B2B and B2C companies. No matter what you sell, the consumers of your messages are people and people need to be engaged at an emotional and intellectual level. From a social media perspective, try to avoid thinking Facebook is for B2C and LinkedIn is for B2B. Participants on those two platforms simply need to have the story about your brand told differently. Every contact point with customers should tell an emotional story.
The other, vital point the video made is that data needs to be at the core of marketing strategy. It needs to fuel the creative brief. Marketing is now about collaboration, personalisation, telling stories and developing relationships. This can only be achieved at a high level by collecting and utilising data. And social media gives us unprecedented access to data.
This public statement of Coke’s future marketing direction shows that marketing is going to be much less about “the one big idea” and much more about lots of ideas, many conversations and constant activity. This is a good thing. For too long, brands have been asked to invest heavily on a single big idea, kind of like being asked to bet everything on one horse.
History shows us that where brands like Coca-Cola go the rest of the market follows.
Can you afford to wait before exploring this new frontier?
Mark Cameron is a digital and social media strategist and CEO of Working Three.