Tuesday 20 March 2018

Business: Connect to clients through social movements

UPRISING By Scott Goodson

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

THERE'S something mildly depressing about Scott Goodson's guide on how companies can use social movements to advance their connections with customers.

A new age of marketing has dawned, he argues, where firms need to have a deeper understanding of what drives their customers -- their (here's that dreaded word) passions, and what makes them want to be better people and create a better world.

It used to be the case that people had passionate affairs, or passionate kisses. Now companies want us to be passionate about everything from underwear to cars. Unless you're passionate about something, it seems that maybe you really don't care about anything.

It's a dreary, perhaps even horrifying prospect. What's just as unsettling is that companies are being urged to create their own movements to obliquely ingratiate themselves with customers.

Some of those movements -- either already born before the marketer comes along, or created by them -- can have admirable intentions.

Pepsi, for instance, Goodson tells us, diverted $20m it would have blown on a Super Bowl ad to a 'movement' it created that awarded funds to projects across the US that focused on bettering schools and the like.

But even here, potential grantees had to secure votes online. Bonus votes could be secured by buying special promotional cans and bottles of Pepsi.

Latching on to movements requires "nothing less than a radical (passionate?) rethinking on the part of marketers and business leaders", Goodson tells us. "As customers begin to care deeply about issues, business must care about them too."

To be fair, Goodson warns companies that they shouldn't try to hijack the conversation its consumers are having. Rather, he says, borrowing a phrase from a contemporary, there should be "quiet transparency".

It's no good, he cautions, trying to make your brand or product part of the conversation. Companies need, rather, to be facilitators.

Undoubtedly Goodson is right. Marketing will -- and is -- changing radically. As such, his book delivers a strong insight into just how 'movement marketing' will play a major role in advertising and brand development.

For consumers though, used for decades to having our fears, hopes and desires transparently manipulated by advertisers, it means being on the lookout for a new wave of marketing that may be much more difficult to detect.

Available with free P&P from kennys.ie or by calling 091 709350.

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