Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Blendtec – Will it Blend

Will it Blend?

Blendtec is not really unique. It isn’t a particularly inventive idea. It isn’t even particularly well produced (although that is the point).  So why am I featuring it?

The simple truth is that Blendtec founder, Tom Dickson, took one of the 5 F’s of Social Media and used it to bring to life, a quite frankly, dull subject, blenders.  While most manufacturers were trying to make the products either sound like a must-have or focussing on key features, Blendtec took the unprecedented step of trying to make the topic of blenders fun.

What is it?

Blendtec was created after Tom first tried to blend a box of matches.  The mess created, inspired Tom to kick-off his unusual marketing campaign, which has turned into a viral success.  Blendtec now has its own sites with regular videos being placed on the site.  Tom Dickson still stars and utilises his inane grin as he subjects the items to the blender.

The campaign took off from almost day one.  The fact that the episodes offered shock value was enough, but the fun factor hasn’t tired.  Each episode centres on an item that really shouldn’t be blended, lighters, cans of fizzy drink and even a 6ft garden rake.

Part of Will it Blend’s appeal however is the fact that Tom normally offers up a reason for things being blended.  A common request from fans of the show is to blend a crowbar.  In one episode which appeared to bow to viewer demand it appeared Tom was going to attempt to blend a crowbar.  Completely by chance, this was interupted by a mobile phone.  Tom’s response was to blend each and every phone of the crew.

He has also earned money by doing shows based around the superbowl, blending in relation to movie launches and a disc of GTA IV.  Perhaps the standout feature was when Tom blended his iPhone citing the reason that he needed to upgrade.  The shock value in one of the most in-demand products being destroyed in front of your eyes made this episode one of the most watched in the series.

Fun

For me this is a perfect example of a campaign that just works.  It strikes a chord with people as it demonstrates a rather dry subject and creates theatre, involving something that the general public wouldn’t consider.  The main underlying theme for me is that the deliberately cheesy set-up and low-cost production values make the whole thing, a lot of fun.  This is truly one of the most successful viral/social campaigns there has been.  Not purely because of the buzz created.  Not purely because of the sheer volumes of views it has received.  This campaign has delivered real commercial return.

It is rumoured this very low budget viral has delivered up to 500% sales growth.  Proving that impact campaigns can deliver real commercial benefit.


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5 F’s of Social Media

5 F’s of Social Media

Over a few posts I will highlight a number of case studies highlighting examples where brands have successfully implemented a social media concept.  To help illustrate the cases I may also identify a couple of the social media disasters.  A great recent example is the DSGi Facebook group where employees openly criticised customers.

However in this post I would like to highlight something that I call the 5 F’s of social media.  Don’t worry I’m not going to teach 5 new profanities beginning with the letter F.  Us marketeers like simple number-letter concepts to help add context to a piece of theory (4 P’s of Marketing).  This will also help me frame the case studies in future posts.

My 5 F’s theory does exactly that.  It highlights 5 distinct criteria – that if all are met, I believe most social media campaigns or activity will succeed.  Each campaign doesn’t necessarily have to hit all the buttons and success could also be achieved by simply turning up the volume on one or two of the areas.

Familiarity

To make any social media/participative marketing campaign a success brands really need to understand their target audience and the objectives of engaging with them.  If you can really get to grips with who your audience is and what they want then you will gain a genuine connection.  With this connection the community or audience should do your work for you, participate and  help towards growing the campaign.Pepsi Amp App

The best method to underline the importance of this particular F is when people get it wrong.  Pepsi’s recent campaign “helping men pull girls” which helped alienate half their audience (namely women).  They obviously had great intentions to undertake something cool and exciting on social media utilising app technology – however it seems to be a classic case of letting the technology rule the idea.

Even if your intention isn’t to run a ‘cool’ participative marketing campaign but to have a presence within social media, you still need to be familiar with your target audience.  Remove the word media from social media and you have social.  People using these channels generally do so to communicate with each other.  They align themselves with likeminded people and as a consequence, generally don’t like companies just plying them with promotional messages.  Brands need to earn trust and the right to have a place talking to people via social.  You need to be familiar to know what messages people want to receive, above all you must be open enough to reflect the audience wishes and feedback.

Fortune

Fortune covers two angles.  Participative marketing campaigns can be amplified if brands put budget behind them.  Social is not free.  You need to make the same investment in those campaigns as you would any other.  Don’t be so blinkered to imagine all promotion has to take place through social media.  People engaging with social media also consumer other media, the ObaWalkers Do Us A Flavourma campaign perfectly illustrates.  The campaign lived within social media, utilising strengths of various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, however substantial investment was made in traditional channels to support this activity.

That being said, the investment doesn’t necessarily need to be in promotional activity.  Participative marketing can benefit from having a great (relevant) payoff for the participants.  A prize or even an ongoing cash amount for people submitting entries (Walkers – Do Us a Flavour).  This incentivises participants to think in detail about their response or become more creative.  The lure of some ‘fortune’ will also help spread word of mouth associated with your campaigns.

Fame

In 1968, Andy Warhol once famously created the phrase, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  This seems to be the undertone for the society we currently live in.  With the rise of reality TV shows and YouTube heroes, everybody does have their opportunity and indeed millions are positively striving for their shot at fame.  Just look at some of the hopefuls on XFactor.

With this in mind, if you can offer X Factor Logothe chance of fame as part of your social media strategy, no matter how small, their is a greater chance of success.  As with the familiarity section, the accolade has to be in tune with your audience.  There is no point providing the platform to be an Exhibitor in the Tate to a group of stereotypical football fans.  Neither would a DJ contest be of any interest to a group of traditional BBC Radio 4 listeners.

If you get it right, the element of fame can really engage with your audience.  Even if the fame is only restricted to a particular social network.  The YouTube phenonomen is a classic example of this.

Fun

As with most activity online, making it fun is a key consideration.  If you can entertain your audience you are more likely to gain the talkability factor.  A sense of fun adds an element of personality to a brand.  This does not necessarily mean the concept has to be funny, more just fun, engaging and entertaining to the audience.

Again, being in-tune with your audience is crucial.

Forwardability

If you have one or all the of the above elements cracked to a good level then you should have produced activity that has the potential to be forwarded.  Your presence needs to be in peoples’ e-mail boxes.  On their phones and referenced on their individual social media profiles.  Your need to be so current to the audience and reflect what they want that they are proud to be associated with the brand.  The audience will do the work for you.

Remember, get it wrong and they are just as likely to forward to their friends but paint a very negative and potentially damaging response.

The package

So this was an initial attempt at placing some theory behind social and participation marketing.  This is by no means exhaustive and I will hopefully come back from time to time to refine the concept of the 5 F’s.  I will also be looking at some case studies to critique and test my theory of the 5 F’s, so if you have any candidate campaigns or brands, please feel free to contact me.