Monthly Archives: June 2009

Social network: the justification

In this connected world, every company is required to have a social presence. A great way to do that is by creating a social network, but an important thing to ask is what is the social network for? There should be a clear strategy behind creating a social network. This in-turn will help you justify the investment in nurturing the network, developing a success matrix and calculating the return on investment. The vast array of issues that can be addressed by a social network makes the resource allocation a more intriguing task.

There’s no magic formula for making a successful social network, but here are some points we should keep in mind to increase the chances of success:

  1. Connection to your core business: The social network should have a clear connection to your core business. The easiest way to make sure you get this right is by making sure the customers of your product or service are the customers of the social network. Even if you are not talking about the product directly, by having this crucial link you can make sure that the social network is subtly marketing the product to the target audience.
  2. Scope of the network: It is very important to answer a simple question: why will anyone come to our network? And even more important, why will anyone come again to our network? This question leads to defining the right scope for the network. While defining a social network, an organization should try and expand the canvas. There are very few products out there about which people are passionate enough to spend time on a social network, but there are way too many issues and topics of interest that can pull people to your network. It is better to talk about quit smoking than nicotine tablets, travel and tourism than luggage, and running and hiking than shoes.
  3. Drive to closure: The importance of usefulness of social network is comparable to the importance of having a social presence. The best way to make a social network useful is by having closure for the discussions. Driving issues to closure and making important decisions based on discussions at the network will encourage customers to participate in the discussions  and develop brand loyalty.
  4. Alignment to support the network: It is important for all relevant parts of the company ranging from product development to customer support and advertising to align in order to support the network. The social network is one of the most direct ways for an organization to get in touch with its customers. By aligning these different divisions, an organization can make the most out of  the social network.

The network should have the magnet required to attract customers and the glue required to make them stick to it. A network for the sake of it will never work, but a network that adds some value to your customers will do wonders for your brand.

Iconic brands are made, not born

Nike, BMW, Starbucks, Apple, Obama are the iconic brands we talk about all the time. When we develop marketing plan for our product, we leave several marketing ideas by categorizing them as the ones that work only for iconic brands. This brings about a very important question: how did these brands become iconic? Were they born iconic or the way they were marketed and developed made them iconic?

In 1964, Philip Knight, a track athlete and his coach founded a company named Blue Ribbon Sports that operated as a distributor of a Japanese Shoemaker selling shoes at track meets out of Knight’s automobile. A couple years later BRS opened its first retail outlet and few years after that launched its own line of shoes. In 1978, 14 years after first starting business, BRS renamed itself to Nike. In 1980s Nike expanded its product line through in house development and acquisitions, launched its legendary campaign “Just Do It” (1988) and gained major market share. It took more than three decades for Nike to become “Nike”, the iconic sports brand.

Nike was not born iconic, neither were BMW, Starbucks, Apple, Obama and for that matter any other company. Starbucks started with one store in Seattle’s Pike Place market, Apple was just another start-up in Silicon Valley in early 1980s and Obama was about 30 points behind Clinton days before Iowa democratic primary. But all of them worked their way through to reach to the top and become iconic. They were able to do one thing perfectly,  and that is linking an idea to the product. They were able to brand themselves as the first choice for a cult, gather a group of mavens and enter mainstream with their help.

So next time when you plan a campaign, try to go for something that can attract a group of dedicated mavens, try something that can help you define a cult around your brand. Nothing out there works only for iconic brands, but there’s a lot out there to help you make your brand iconic.