I want to share insight into one idea that guides The Blake Project's brand consulting practice. Attraction Marketing is not a new idea, on the contrary, it’s an idea as old as commerce itself. The premise is simple: people are tribal in their associations and in their behavior. Like attracts like. Not unlike quantum theory that suggests like particles vibrate and attract to form matter. Not to stretch my metaphor too far, but I would like to suggest that the discipline of marketing is the energy that vibrates in the marketplace attracting those customers who value the proposition, their association with it, and share its value to others. It is a natural attraction, not something contrived or forced. Consumers like to buy, they don’t like being sold. With so much choice, and so much me-too branding going on, consumers must have the “what’s in for me” question clearly answered before they associate with your brand’s promise. Brand building is not a transaction.
Interestingly enough, this idea of attraction marketing has more resonance today as consumers take control of marketing channels. Today, word of mouth advocacy takes its form as a YouTube video post – random, immediate and powerfully contagious. Consumers have the control now, not the marketers. Add to that the increased fragmentation of media channels, sophisticated demographics and customer segmentation models, and you don’t need to be clairvoyant to see the writing on the wall. Like the music industry, the global advertising industry is scrambling to find ways to navigate this sea change with a business model that serves consumers and adds value to their clients. Consumers want trustworthy relationships with brands. They want clarity, not clutter. They want to be pulled into the gravity of a two-way conversation with like-minded people.
It’s an exciting time to be in the brand development – brand consulting business. Ideas are now more powerful than process. The conversation with customers can no longer be based on product attributes, but rather on experiences. There is a metaphysical aspect to creating experiences consumers love to engage in. Just go to an Apple Store. What’s happening there is not based in a spread sheet. The Apple Store is church for the brand faithful. There are other examples: Southwest Airlines, Herman Miller, IKEA, Target, Charles Schwab, Harley Davidson, BMW and yes, Wal-Mart too. These brands offer an experience that transcends what they make and market. The white hot center of competitive advantage is based in a compelling customer experience. In effect these brands have been loyal to their customers, not the other way around.
To do this right, brands have to stand for something authentic and real. And whatever that “something” is, it cannot be decorative or superficial. More importantly, creating experiences people love is not a “best practices” kind of process. That’s just another way of defining the status quo and doing what everyone is doing.
So if you buy into the premise of attraction marketing, your brand building initiatives will be based in a core purpose of adding great value to people. Simple, unique and compelling ideas will be the gravity that attract the like-minded to the white hot center of your value proposition and your competitive advantage.
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