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The New Brand Experience

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"It's not the car but the people I meet along the journey that I remember," Thomas Frank, creative director at MaxMedia Design said to me a few nights ago. We were party chatting at's welcome-to-Atlanta bash. His words resonated with me. It was a flash of an idea that captured the essence of what ties social media to what marketers like to call the brand experience.

Developing a brand experience is much like creating a mosaic. It requires that each customer touch point is first designed to be its own unique experience. Then each element must be carefully integrated into the design that is then pieced together to form one cohesive image. There you have it ... a carefully developed world for your customers to enter into to take away the best of your brand.
Or that was how the brand experience use to work before the disruptive world of blogs and YouTube and Facebook and Twitter and social networks came into play. Our customers are tossing those carefully crafted mosaic pieces into the air and making their own brand experiences.
The now famous Coke Mentos fountain video was more than a fun science experiment. It was an explosion of how two brands' images could be impacted by this new easy-to-use and easy-to pass-along technology.
We can share our creations not only with our closest friends but with friends we don't even know. Our friends and friends we don;t know want to stop their busy lives to watch what their friends have developed. Why? Because they're our friends. So consumer generated messaging get our attention sometimes faster and with more impact than the million dollar campaign.
"It's not the car but the people I meet along the journey that I remember," said Thomas. In that very same disruptive world of blogs and podcasts and videos and social networks brands have the same opportunities to expand our journey and introduce us to their people. It's the people who are the heart of the brand ..not the logo or the jingle .. who make the brand experience the real thing.
Can you do that without including social spaces into your marketing mix? Of course you can. The customer service people, the sales people, the accounting department people... all impact the customer journey.
But in a world where your customers are playing fast and hard with your brand, why wouldn't you want to join that game, too?

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Toby Bloomberg
President of Atlanta-based Bloomberg Marketing

Toby is passionate about helping companies create strategies that harness the power of social media communications. She believes that social media marketing can go steps beyond traditional offline/online marketing to create corner grocery store relationships with customers and other stakeholders.

She works with organizations to develop traditional/new social media integrated marketing plans that result in reaching business and marketing goals/objectives. Toby also spends lot of her time on the road speaking to marketers at conferences and company sponsored workshops about the importance of businesses taking an active role in these new conversations.

She made blogs and blogging understandable. Her presentation was fun, informative rich and I'd recommend Toby to anyone interested in getting the scoop on blogging. Lorin R. Robinson, 3M

Toby’s main squeeze blog, Diva Marketing was required reading for several higher ed marketing courses: University of Delaware, Atlanta Art Institute, Bentley College and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Find Toby Blogging at:
Diva Marketing
Blogger Stories
Business Blog Consultant
The Medical Blog Network
Corante Marketing Network

..and of course Marketing Profs!

She services on the boards of the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association, American Marketing Association and is a teaching artist for the Alliance Theatre. Toby holds a degree from Emerson College and has performed post-baccalaureate studies at Emory University.

Although she now calls Atlanta home - with her Westie pup Max - Toby is a Yankee from Boston who still loves ice cones with chocolate jimmies.

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  • by Lewis Green Mon Aug 6, 2007 via blog

    Toby, In short, marketing remains the same, even as the tools change. Know where your customers and influencers are an reach out to touch them.

  • by Toby Mon Aug 6, 2007 via blog

    Actually, yes but not really. Marketing remains the same because smart marketers know they must understand their customers first and for most. However, Conversation Marketing changes the game. Prior to brands could listen to their customers .. now they must go the step further to participate with their customers. To be a part of that conversation. Why? Because the sources of information, which directly influence brand perception leading to purchase behavior, are now not only held in the locked gilded cages of the PR or Marketing or Brand departments but with customers (and others). This is a critical change in marketplace dynamics.

  • by Lewis Green Mon Aug 6, 2007 via blog

    Toby, Love you but you are too young to remember that before TV and when only a few owned radios, marketing was based on conversation. And really good marketers and business people have always relied on the customer's voice and the conversation to create word of mouth marketing. I, for one, have used it as our primary marketing strategy for 35 years, and my grandmother used it for 50 years, beginning in the 20s. Just because some needed the tools to understand and use the strategy doesn't mean the strategy is new. Marketing and PR were based on the carnival barker who yelled their messages to anyone who would listen. But the message development, sale and spreading of word of mouth was based on listening and having conversations with their customers.

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Aug 6, 2007 via blog

    I think we need to look at this issue historically. As Lewis points out, years ago, marketers relied on face-to-face conversations with customers. The world was smaller and so were businesses, so it was possible to achieve that personal dialog much easier. When companies grew, amalgamated and acquired other, smaller businesses, they became so behemoth that they couldn't maintain that level of "homey" one-on-one dialog with customers. Often, they lost sight of the customer as they focused on expansion, attracting high-priced CEO's, technology advances, shareholder worth, outsourcing, etc. Now, we're seeing a shift back to a focus on the customer, with new technology as a tool. Some of this has been spearheaded by the companies themselves, and others have been forced into it by the power of Web 2.0 and bad publicity. Either way, customers are empowered whether they shout their comments from the highest building or blog about it. And, as Martha Stewart says, that's a good thing.

  • by Lewis Green Mon Aug 6, 2007 via blog

    Elaine, Great insights and I suspect that Toby latched onto the difficult aspect of current customer conversations in her post, as well. I guess we all are saying essentially the same thing: marketing doesn't work unless we give customers a voice. Jennifer also discusses this strategy in "Determining a Brand's Market Perception." Ann, great job in melding these posts.

  • by Toby Mon Aug 6, 2007 via blog

    Yes, Lewis I agree with you. Good marketing has always been about the conversation. In fact, you might enjoy the post I wrote that includes grandmas and wom! Elaine - Thanks for bring the historical perspective to the table. Okay, before the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies positive and negative WOM was pretty much how customers chatted it up or down. But it does not appear as though there was little if any change of messaging by customers. Today blogs, Flickr, social networks .. we are doing it because we can do it. Agree? Disagree? And as Elaine puts it the "empowerment" through technology has influenced will continue to influence how business and marketing is conducted.

  • by David Reich Mon Aug 6, 2007 via blog

    Good discussion here. Smart marketers like American Express seem to have never lost sight of the customer, even as they grew larger. New technologies and especially social media seem to have created the opportunity for big marketers to get back to conversing with their customers, like in "the old days." It's just not across the counter anymore, but via the internet and other modern means.

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