Good session at MPlanet on customer engagement. Speakers included Tom Hernquist from Hershey, Craig Coffey from Nokia, Michael Fasulo from Sony, George Harrison from Nintendo and Paul Woolmington from Naked Communications.
User-generated content was a big topic of discussion. Nintendo’s Harrison talked about attending a launch event in Los Angeles for the Wii gaming console and ending up on YouTube: “It’s a little disconcerting. You have some sleepless nights when you open [your brand] up to UGC. But you have to accept it.”
Coffey talked about how Nokia tapped into the blogging community for the launch of its N95 handset. The marketing team identified five core bloggers – “super influencers” – and invited them into one of its flagship stores before the launch, giving them access to product information and letting them interact with the hardware. Giving them early access to the product “helped them embrace what we were doing,” Coffey said. The positive comments of those super influencers “had a huge ripple effect” on the rest of the blogosphere, he said. A day after the official product launch, there were more than 1 million queries on Google for “N95.”
Asked later about how to deal with bloggers who hate marketers, Coffey said: “We didn’t disrespect the power that these bloggers have. Don’t patronize, don’t condescend.”
Harrison added: “There will always be a large percentage of bloggers who are purists, but others want access and want to engage about new products.”
Woolmington described four major transitions taking place in the marketer-customer relationship:
- Interruption to engagement, the latter defined as creating the content, tools and experiences to incent people to seek you out.
- Control to empowerment.
- Aggregate to integrate. Using all channels to tell your story, but “not painting everything the same color.”
- Isolate to affiliate. Mobile third parties to help engage the customers you’re targeting.
Panelists agreed that the 30-second spot is not dead. Fasulo cited a logical reason: Boomers still watch between 14-16 hours of TV a week. Harrison said Nintendo still spends about 70% of its advertising budget on TV (down from 95% a few years ago). “Software launches are a lot like movie launches – we only have 5-6 weeks to build awareness,” he said. “It’s hard to do that without TV.” The difference now, the executives said, is layering in other components to augment the TV spots.