Welcome to the Interact Congress Blog. We have invited some leading European guest bloggers to share their observations on interactive marketing and communication skills within the integrated experience. The blog also offers you a first opportunity to interact with your peers.

For more information about the congress, please visit www.interactcongress.eu

Thursday, 5 April 2007

We Aid - forget the action

Since the somewhat heated debate between Thomas Madsen Mygdal and Matias Palm Jensen at the Danish Internet Award (DIA07) conference some two months ago, my mind has once more been wandering about the limits of advertising.

Is it true that good products market themselves here in the age of the social web, where happy and unhappy individuals have excellent opportunities to make their opinions publicly known? That advertisement in the traditional sense therefore is obsolete, and that marketers should focus on Public Relations-like activities, ensuring the best conditions for the conversation between individuals (whether these are employed in the company selling goods and services or are performing the role of consumers, buying the goods and services)?

One thing I’m sure about is that no ad will succeed in getting anyone to buy anything, simply by saying: “This is a great product. Go to the nearest store and BUY IT”. Com’on! If this has ever worked (what I doubt) it certainly doesn’t anymore. This is 2007. More than a decade after “I’m not a consumer”, “Generation X” and what have you. Consumers are individuals, not masses, making up their own minds.

Phrased differently: In terms of the traditional AIDA marketing paradigm, the last “A” (the one where you get your target-group to Act, that is: buy) has been ruled out. Although the aim of marketing is to get the individual to do “the buy”, it is out of the hands of the marketer to make the individual do so.

However, it’s also true that not even the greatest product has a chance of getting success, if nobody knows about it.

Furthermore I hold it to be a truth, that products are more than their mere physical properties: That sentiments about the product may be a very important reason why anybody would buy the product at all. Take the Apples iPhone as an example: It’s very much more than a smartphone. As anyone who has observed the blogosphere during and after the launch (that is: of the presentation of what is to be in the US market in half a year, and in the European market in one whole year from now) of the Apple iPhone will truly be aware, the hype is tied closely to the expectations of what Steve Jobs and Co. will be able to deliver.)

Similarly: Coca Cola is more than a taste. Nike is more than a device for walking. Etc.

In other words: Marketing still has a role to play as regards to creating Attention of, Interest in, and Desire of products. The first three letters (“A”, “I” and “D”) in the AIDA still holds true.

The loss of the final “A”, the Action “A”, in the AIDA paradigm is not all that has changed. Modern times has not only cut off the most important part of what marketing is about. No – it has done something more. It has added a resource of such powers, that it’s hardly comprehendible. It has given marketers the notion of a “WE” to be working with. It has created the space for a conversation between marketers and the (people formerly known as) consumers.

This conversation does not necessarily need to take place on an abstract discussion-like level. On the contrary, I will suggest that conversation should be understood in the most widely sense of the word. That a game, which attracts an audience, is a kind of conversation, even though it might only have a slight connection to the way the product meets “objective” requirements. That the little green music-making man Pjotro (read my post on Pjotro at my own blog), who’s in reality advertising for Nokia, might be a great advertisement. Because it offers the individuals accessing the Pjotro-figure the opportunities to amuse themselves, while (very much secondarily) connecting the Nokia brand-name to interactive music. And because the creators of the ad has realised, that it doesn’t work just stating: “Go buy the new Nokia phone with MP3 capabilities”, but has succeeded in creating a community, a “WE” involving individuals, who like music, and like interactive playing around and the virtual Nokia-property Pjotro.

This is very much not to say, that only a few things has changed for marketers during the past decade. That the “AIDA” models still holds true, if you only modify it a little.

On the contrary: what we are witnessing is a paradigm shift. The whole instrumental way of viewing the marketing process, where you can move from point a to b, targeting the relevant consumers and eventually making them buy your product, is deemed to end in nothing but failure nowadays. Instead the “WE”-part should have the undivided focus of marketers. Whenever introducing a new product think of: how best to engage the individuals, you’d like to be consumers, in the sphere of your product. Talk to them, provide them with facts about you and the product, and play with them, create virtual universes and invite your “target groups” to get inside. Get them to be your ambassadors, to contribute to, and spread your message through their own viral channels.

Forget AIDA. Think “WE”. But also: think about and take the actions necessary, to create Attention about the product, Interest in the product and Desire for the product. Think “We” and think “AID”. Think “WE AID”.

(I first laid out these thoughts in my post "WE AID – a marketing paradigm for the user-centered era" on my own blog, where also this post originally was published).

1 comment:

Koen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.