Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Branding for Schools in the ACTIVE VOICE

This is a guest post from Jim Mitchem that was part of Danny Brown's rss fee today for me.. Jim is a father, husband, copywriter and founder of the virtual ad agency smashcommunications, llc. You can find him at his Obsessed with Conformity blog, and on Twitter @smashadv.

I was struck by its implications for branding in schools. Building a branding campaign for school means stepping out of he passive voice and into the ACTIVE voice!!!

Here's Jim.....

One of the things I hear most often from colleagues who attempt to justify why big brands need to be involved in Social Media is, ‘Don’t you want to know what people are saying about you?’

Only, this is a very passive position. Reactionary. More like Public Relations than marketing. Then again, most of the people I know in Social are from the PR side of the house. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, there’s a lot to be said for keenly monitoring what people say about your brand. Marketers from as little as ten years ago would kill for this opportunity. And with the amazing data mining tools available today, you can monitor your ass off. It’s brilliant.

However, there’s another opportunity out there that may be even more valuable than monitoring. Engaging. Yeah, yeah, everyone talks about how engagement is the core concept of SM. But talk is cheap. Well, not really.

In fact, one of the fallacies of Social Media is that because the media itself is mostly free (for now,) that it’s somehow cheap.

It’s not.

To effectively engage in this space requires a strategy and a team. And that means allocating budgets. In other words, being proactive. So stop what you’re doing right now, and go into your marketing plan and carve out 30% of the budget right off the top and put it into Social Media. Because A) traditional marketing is dying (becoming less relevant), and B) engagement takes manpower. Lots of it.

Yes, you can maximize the manpower with the proper tools, but if you’re not prepared to invest in the people who will take your brand into the brave new world of social, you’re just monitoring.

Don’t be afraid of Social Media. It’s not brain surgery. But after centuries of doing things one-way, we’re now in the age of two way. And reciprocal dialogue doesn’t occur in a print campaign.

You want to hear what your target audience is saying about you? You can do that in Social Media. If you want to be more proactive than at any time in the history of marketing, you can do that in Social Media too.

Imagine having people contact you on Twitter about a problem they’re having with a product – and you actually help them. In public. With everyone watching. Now imagine what the person you just helped is going to say about you (in public) to other people who are probably a lot like them, and who therefore represent potential new customers for you.

Imagine people talking about you in public and referencing your blog directly, where even more intimate dialogue can occur and where you can further reinforce your brand’s promise of value.

Imagine that. It’s sick.

And it’s being done now pretty well by brands like Zappos, Ford, Southwest Airlines among a growing list of others. No, none of these brands have everything figured out here. But they do have guts, and have recognized the massive potential that exists in proactive reciprocal dialogue with their audience.

Proactive engagement. It’s the new Super Bowl television spot. Just ask Pepsi.

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