The world is at our fingertips. We’ve heard this phrase numerous times since the dawn of the internet and now a decade into smartphone adoption. The old anecdote goes that today’s smartphones are more powerful than the computer system used on the Apollo moon missions. So not only can you use your phone to power a circa 1960’s space program, you also have every movie, book, TV show, video game, and music file ready at your fingertips.
Yet this month my daughters are obsessing over the latest fad called “Pop It” toys. In a nutshell, the Pop It toys are the same activity as popping those bubble wrap shipping supplies when we were kids. On one hand, this fidget toy is a simple break from electronic devices. On the other hand, my suggestion instead of a digital break with Legos, Barbie, and American Girl dolls in the playroom gets repeatedly shot down.
What amazes me about the Pop It surge is that the popularity sprang organically from end-user Pop It videos posted on the TikTok platform. The influence of TikTok and other social media channels can cause a product to “pop” at any time without the factory even knowing. In the old days of cable TV, I recall infomercials being the last thing I would ever watch. Today, millions of people tune in to amateur infomercials now wrapped around a media channel on a mobile device.
For the agriculture professional, this latest shift in viral promotions is an interesting time to reassess branding strategies. Traditional media options of web and print still enable targeted communications in a very efficient and cost effective way. A traditional outreach plan may include a mix of easy-to-track touchpoints like print ads, digital ads, web pages, slick brochures, and a big splash at Commodity Classic.
New media planning outreach for today’s eyeballs, however, must accept that a brand is now a community that includes official and unofficial brand ambassadors live 24/7 across many online channels. New media brings more complexity as the online community today has unlimited resources in which to push a message including TikTok. Engagement, product use, and the intended communication strategy is therefore no longer policed by the brand’s owner on private websites or handcrafted email blasts. Instead, a community of unofficial brand ambassadors (good and bad) will retweet, comment, livestream, like, or take a selfie alongside your official and structured company brand push. The challenge is capitalizing on this organic online momentum at the right time to maximize your brand’s value.
“While digital transformation is deservedly at the top of the corporate agenda, simply because of a growing mismatch between people’s expectations and their actual online experience, marketers know that it will take more than digital technology to make a difference,” said Stephen Shaw in his 2018 “The Big Shift” article. “The new competitive battleground: making it as easy as possible for customers to interact across all channels, giving them what they need, at the time they need it, in the context of the moment.”
This new online customer experience is therefore an investment the company must adopt, grow, and spread for today’s segmented attention span. This is a live workstream that takes way more resources than a static marketing campaign in the traditional sense. As a marketer, a common mistake is thinking that customers are aware of all the benefits a company’s brand or service provides. The non-tangible benefits like value-added apps, tech support, or brand reputation must now be managed across many more touchpoints.
We hear a lot about Net Promoter Scores and other ways to try to gauge brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. The best way to concentrate on this new branding community is to add a marketing services team to your branding strategy. This service team or individual would provide weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly insights to support your company’s branding community as it brings back never-ending data points from the community at large.
This is a big jump from just focusing on your product’s value proposition, customer service response time, or loyalty programs. The marketing services team monitors, responds, and captures data points not just relative to products, people, and services but also the overall company messaging including corporate responsibility and community engagement. This support function brings agility to your marketing strategy through building a better customer experience in real time.
“Success is seen when you can deliver the consumer all of their expectations; you need both the consistent quality supply and the availability, as well as the marketing support, and you must be agile in ever-changing landscapes,” said Coregeo’s Kyla Flynn in a recent Produce Business UK article.
Our marketing needs for today’s agriculture operation must take into consideration how your brand is living across hundreds of touchpoints in the online space. A branding strategy may not be as easy as making fidget toy videos on TikTok, but the new demands on keeping up with a 24/7 branding community is critical to building a better customer experience.
Boomer Cardinale has over 20 years experience as a top level global marketing, strategy, and food value chain thought leader. Boomer cultivates executive collaborative strategy, manages professional teams, develops product and brand image and builds customer engagement within a $30B industry. Boomer recently joined UPL as their Director of Marketing and Development for their North American post-harvest unit. Prior to joining UPL, Boomer held marketing manager positions at Novozymes and BASF. Boomer earned his undergrad degree in journalism and communications at Texas A&M and his agriculture economics masters at Purdue. In addition, Boomer also received an MBA from Indiana University. See all author stories here.
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