I feel like I say it every day, but if you’re not reading Terry Heaton, what, may I ask, are you doing with your day? His latest essay, New Metrics and Principles, is up to his usual stellar quality. In it he discusses the need for new marketing principles. Although he’s speaking generally about media, I think most of what he has to say relates to just about any brand out there. Anyway, here’s his list of new principles with a few of my own thoughts for each.
- Respect. The faceless masses are not so faceless anymore. They’ve got a voice on the internet and they’re not afraid to use it. If companies were stupid enough not to respect their audience/customers before, they better not make that mistake now. Treat them as equals, encourage co-creation, let them know their voice is being heard. Otherwise, they’ll find someone else who will listen.
- Genericize. I have to admit I’m a little shaky on this one, not sure I completely get what Terry’s trying to say here: “We need the courage to see that even our best “brands” can have baggage, and it usually comes from the hype associated with the brand. Dragging the brand into everything we do, therefore, places unnecessary obstacles in the paths of creatively meeting information and entertainment needs that are out there. We need the willingness to genericize ourselves in some of our work in order to overcome those barriers. We also need a way to measure the effectiveness of the effort.” Thoughts?
- Fluidity. Let your brand out of the death-grip for a second and see what happens. Allow people to leave the site, encourage honest communication and find ways to unbundle yourself in a way that allows people to play with the pieces in any way they wish (think APIs).
- Influence. Appreciate it: influence is a direct measure of attention.
- Trust. I have a bit of a hard time getting a handle on trust as a distinct principle because I feel as though it plays it to just about all of them. It’s right up there with respect for me. You’ve got to trust your customers, because if you make them feel empowered then they won’t soon forget you.
- Transparency. Big, big, big. No more hiding behind the closed doors of boardrooms. Make your decisions out in the open. Ask people what they think. Encourage feedback. Converse with your customers. Make them feel as though they both understand and are a part of the process and you’ve earned yourself an evangelist.
- Credibility and reliability. Again, this one is rather over-arching. Your customers are people, treat them that way. Don’t rely on caricatures and cliches to communicate with them. Earn your credibility by being yourself, by being transparent, fluid and honest. As for reliability, we’re living in a world where endless choice is a reality. If your product’s not up to snuff there are 10 other companies who will sell me theirs. Don’t screw around and if something should go wrong, admit it and find a way to fix the problem.
- Listen and link. Every company should have someone paying attention to the way people are discussing their brand. Get involved in the conversations, get to know the most passionate customers and don’t be scared to talk about people with dissenting opinions. Don’t be afraid or insular, be proud and open. Although it may go against your better judgement at first, you’ll soon learn that people want to do business with companies they believe in. Earn their trust.
Well, that’s it for my comments, make sure you go over and read Terry’s full essay and see what he had to say.