It’s no surprise that marketing is in the early stages of a massive shift. But with the rise of social technologies, we can no longer embrace the strategies of the past. The evolution of marketing necessitates a new playbook, and marketers need to embrace new tactics fast.

At the center of the shift ahead is a new relationship with consumers. Admittedly, Facebook and Twitter have successfully begun to create a two-way dialogue between brands and consumers, but most brand marketers continue to use these channels as another means to obtain reach and impressions.

My firm, Crowdtap, recently released a white paper titled “The Collaborative Marketing Future,” which speaks in more detail to how marketers will shift to truly marketing with consumers. Marketers must begin to embrace collaboration now since it takes time to integrate these approaches into the marketing mix. The below five steps will provide marketers with a clear plan to begin consumer collaboration and have clear results for their efforts.

5 steps to becoming a collaborative brand

  1. Audit your audiences. Look at all of your brand’s existing communities and databases, including CRM, Facebook and Twitter. Every brand has consumers that want to participate at different levels. Some love to tell you what they think of your brand, and others want to shout from the rooftops. Brands need to understand all of these consumer segments and ensure they have plans to maximize the value of each.
  2. Engage your core. Just as President Barack Obama won a second term due to a strong ground game, marketers must empower their loyal consumers to amplify their messages for them. In the Harvard Business Review article “How Valuable is Word of Mouth?” the authors write, “A company’s most valuable customers are customers who are both excellent buyers and marketers.” These brand advocates have a higher lifetime value than loyal customers who don’t advocate but purchase more.
  3. Align your content. Earned media is a popular buzzword these days, but most advertising content is still not developed for the social world. Many marketers now attempt to create the next viral hit, which often causes them to lose focus on what actually makes content shareable. Content is largely shared in small groups — not via an elite group of influencers. The median number of views per share of a piece of viral content is nine on Facebook and five on Twitter. Developing content more frequently and targeting that content more accurately is becoming the new formula for achieving scale in communications.
  4. Do it faster, smarter, better. It simply does not make sense to develop a yearlong marketing plan anymore. Attempting to forecast spend and messages on a yearly or even quarterly basis simply doesn’t fit with how content is now consumed or how quickly culture evolves. Marketers today must operate more like tech companies than like advertisers. The new model, according to Steven Cook, former chief marketing officer of Samsung, “is more akin to a startup mentality. The CMO will need to learn what it’s like to move fast and do things on the cheap. The future is, after all, about doing more with less.”
  5. Commit to collaboration. Marketers must commit to marketing with consumers for the long run. Collaboration cannot be thought of or bought as a campaign. With each success, brands can develop a deeper relationship with consumers and build a long-term asset that will derive increasing value. These initiatives can and should be tested, reviewed and optimized, but success must be evaluated in the context of a long-term solution.

Marketing won’t change overnight, but look back five or even three years, and it’s clear how quickly our industry evolves. Five years ago, Facebook and Twitter were just developing scale and Instagram and Pinterest didn’t exist. Technology grows exponentially, and we can bet that the changes that happen over the next three to five years will have a far greater impact than those we’ve just experienced. It will take time and a lot of learning to evolve. Get started today, and you will be flexing those collaborative marketing muscles for years to come.

Brandon Evans is the founder and CEO of Crowdtap, a leading enterprise technology solution that allows brands to learn, ideate and market with consumers on demand. Crowdtap was recently named as one of Forbes 100 Most Promising Companies for 2013.

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One Response to “The collaborative-marketing workout: 5 steps to becoming a collaborative brand”

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