Here's a piece I wrote for a banking client's internal newsletter. It describes the transformation from the mass media era to the digital media era and the implications of that shift for marketers and so I thought I would share it here. Enjoy and, as always, spread the fire. GS
A revolution in media and marketing triggered by recent digital technologies has fundamentally changed the world. Most companies see it as a threat. You can see it as an opportunity.
Thriving in this new environment requires engaging audiences in a Trialogue™. Trialogue is more than a communications tactic; it is a strategic platform that routes the true experience of a brand among all its constituents. In a Trialogue, messages and experience move along three dimensions:
A:B - From the audience to the brand
A:A - Among audience members
Dell discovered the need for Trialogue when, in 2005, blogger Jeff Jarvis began recounting his customer service nightmares on his BuzzMachine blog in a post titled “Dell Hell.” Like a magnet, his post attracted other unhappy customers who left similarly scathing comments. Soon it was all over the web. Search “Dell” on Google at that time and “Dell Hell” was on the first page of organic results.
· It built a system for tracking online conversations involving its brand and began proactively reaching out to people with problems.
· It joined the conversation by starting its own blog; winning praise from customers for authentically addressing positive and negative issues.
· It launched IdeaStorm, a site where customers can suggest and prioritize ideas from new products to service improvements and Dell can report on its plans and progress.
Today Dell relies on Trialogue interaction with its customers to support its rejuvenated business.
Implementing Trialogue in your business involves three steps.
The best brands, like best friends, are good listeners. Begin by uncovering brand conversations. The Buntin Group recently built a Brand Monitoring Dashboard for a client that monitored websites, blogs, chat rooms, forums, and even Twitter in real-time for conversations involving the client’s brand or its competitor’s. It tracked the volume and tone of that chatter and identified the people making those comments so the client could connect with them online.
The most effective way to influence your brand image in the Trialogue era is to control your customer’s experience. With a quality product and excellent customer service in place, you can further lead by:
· Creating venues for brand discussions like social networks and forums
· Inviting your customers to participate in new product development and service improvements.
· Designing systems that enable customers to more effectively engage with your business. ATM’s and online banking are good examples from the financial services industry.
· Joining the conversation by commenting on existing blogs and forums, and/or starting your own.
· Reinforcing brand truths with targeted advertising through traditional channels.
Equip the audience with tools that leverage its connectivity to help them share your brand message with their social network. New digital tools make this easy and affordable and can radically extend brand strategy, communications reach, and advertising impressions.