According to Josh Bernoff, senior analyst with Forrester and co-author of Groundswell (my favorite book to date on social media), there are two kinds of brands in the world–brands that people like to talk about and brands that people don’t like to talk about.
In his recent post “Social Strategy for Exciting (and Boring) Brands”, Bernoff writes, “Brands that people don’t like to talk about – I’ll call them “boring” brands – are everywhere. If, like most marketers, you market a boring brand, then you’re really earning your living as a marketer. That’s because you are trying to get people interested in something they don’t really care about.”
Bernoff is right–it can be difficult to get people or rather potential customers interested in a brand that is viewed as boring.
In his post, Bernoff writes:
The boring brands have different problem, but social applications can help them, too. The key with boring brands is to get people talking about their problems, since they won’t talk about your brand. In advertising, you can force messages on people watching other things. In a social context, this fails miserably.
Applications that talk about customers problems create “borrowed relevance,” since you generate talk they care about, then make yourself a part of it. And in perhaps the most dramatic example, Procter & Gamble knew girls wouldn’t talk about tampons, but would talk about music, cliques, and school, so it created beinggirl.com as a vehicle to deliver (very quietly) the occasional feminine care products message.
The key –whether using social media or traditional public relations and marketing– is to focus on talking about your customers problems and how you are helping to solve them. The key to success if you have a boring brand is not the product or service you are selling but how you are changing lives or companies through your product. But, this is a bitter pill for many companies to swallow. Many of the boring brands have fallen in love with their products and don’t want to accept that they are not the story. The engaged, happy customer is the story.
At the end of his post, Bernoff writes:
If your brand is talkable, your social efforts will surface the brand enthusiasts who have the most influence. If it’s boring, your social applications will help you find your rare but valuable brand enthusiasts, or even generate a few. Pay attention to these people. Because as advertising clutter rises and word of mouth becomes more important, they’re about to become some of your most important corporate assets.
How are you driving interest in your brand?