Marketing, by nature, is constantly changing and evolving with the needs of the customer. Over the last several years, there has been a dramatic shift from the traditional push strategies of the past to new, more palatable pull strategies aimed at a social consumer. Companies that execute this new model well are pulling customers to their brands. In his recent blog post with the HBR.com, Mark Bonchek referred to this force of attraction between customers and companies as “social gravity.” Companies with strong social gravity are engaging in two way interaction with customers, continually learning and adapting, and pulling customers into their brands “orbit.”
Large brands such as Coca Cola, Nike and Google have all made a shift to a push-based and content-focused approach. Committing fully to this new model has already made these brands gravitational giants, pulling thousands of new customers into orbit each day. So how can your marketing create this same social gravity for your brand? Here are a few suggestions:
Purpose & Platform
Before you can start building social gravity, you need be clear on your purpose. What is the goal or mission of your company and how can you complement it? Be sure that you are choosing the right platform for achieving your purpose. At Pardot, client satisfaction is our biggest priority and we designed the Pardot Idea Exchange with that mission in mind. Idea Exchange is an open forum for our clients to post their ideas for product tweaks and improvements. Because it was in line with our company mission and provides dramatic value to our clients, the network generated over 100 product enhancements last year.
Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are already pre-made with multiple levels of potential engagement and value. Chose the platform that will best serve you and your customers.
Companies that generate the most social gravity are those that provide the most value to their audience. This value not only pulls in customers, but also turns them into advocates, and further sources of social gravity. Value can take on a number of forms and you need to discover value that best serves your purposes. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are focused on the value of conversation, while companies like Kickstarter have found their own niche values — contributions in exchange for perks. New forms of value are discovered each day, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Engage, Evaluate, Repeat
In the social age, customers don’t like to be pushed. Your marketing days can no longer afford to revolve around optimizing your marketing mix and developing pricing and promotions. The companies that are going to be the most successful are those that focus on deeply understanding their customers and market space, boldy experiment with new ideas and strategies, and analyze the results.
Is your marketing focused on the right purpose and platform? Are you providing value to your customers in a manner consistent with your purpose and platform? Are you using your platform and value to engage meaningfully with your customers? If not, your customers could be getting pulled into another companies orbit.
What do you think of the Social Gravity concept? How are you generating it with your own marketing? Let us know! We love to hear your thoughts.