Product, placement, price and promotion – we get taught in week one at uni that these are the four P’s of marketing. However, as the challenges of reaching consumers with our messages increase, a new P should be added to the list: Participation. By considering the experience consumers have when participating with your brand, you can look at how to create a positive story that they spread for us. This is particularly important when trying to target demographics who are no longer easily reached via traditional media (damn you 18 to 24 year old males).
I have been accused of being a digital evangelist a few times. I find this strange as throughout my career – and at every talk I give – I have consistently tried to convince clients to use digital to recreate a real life experience. Digital channels are necessary to scale experiences and to provide an amplified outlet for the story that your consumers tell about your brand, but the real-world experience should drive this.
How do people currently participate with your brand? On your Facebook page?
Umm kind of, but not really.
Yeah, a bit, I guess - if you are doing it properly.
Sure. In store? Definitely!
At sponsored events?
But how can we really ramp our efforts up in the area of brand participation? What can we do to make the experience a memorable one which is worth telling our friends about? If the following brands were my clients, I would recommend the following as potential ways they could change their fifth P.
Like many retailers, the experience of going into an optometrist (aside from the eye testing facilities) is largely one of shit on shelves, specifically glasses frames. For optometrists this is a particularly strange way to sell, as the frames are not the primary reason people buy glasses and for farsighted customers this makes even less sense as they can only see a blurry reflection of what the chosen frames look like on their face.
Optometrists should allow people to take a photo of themselves on their laptop at home, then digitally try the different range of frames on. They could share the image of their final selection with friends to get other opinions, then order the frames with their lenses in place to be waiting in store. The store experience, rather than having shelves full of frames could have HD TV’s, art, and other things which show the benefit of having better vision.
A low key and cheap one: put a webcam on the aquarium and broadcast it as the “Fish Tank Channel”. It would also work as a screen saver. This would turn the creatures into characters who people around the world would get to know. As people develop an affinity with the particular animals on-screen, they will surely want to see them when they are visiting Auckland, or at the very least buy a soft toy version from the web site.
The SPCA should open a coffee house in the middle of the city. The office workers would flock there to not just get a coffee, but to sit in either the cat section or the dog section. This would create an experience they would share. Cat pictures on the internet...there could be something in that. Also, all the profits from the coffee would help fund the cause and adoption rates would increase because the customers would be interacting with the animals. If you put a cat on someone’s lap, that animal is half adopted.
These are the kind of ideas that advertising agencies struggle to get on the table with clients, because they don’t really fall under their current four P’s of jurisdiction. There is also not much profit margin in an agency telling a business to open a coffee shop, or to just point a webcam and broadcast it for free.
We need to get creative with how we spread our branded messages, and how our customers increasingly spread those messages for us. We need to ensure that our consumer’s participation is considered at every step. Consumers are now creating and curating their own content, let’s make sure that by creating a great participation moment, they are creating branded content for us. Let's face it, we can’t all afford to have our drink bottles on Stan Walker’s desk on X-Factor.