“God hit the reset button!”

god-reset-button“God hit the reset button!” a brand manager friend of mine exclaimed loudly as we talked last week about the economy, about how social media was disrupting “damn near” everything he knows how to do and is doing with brand marketing, and he’s struggling mightily with what to do next.

Fortunately for him, a guy that works for the Chief Marketing Officer at a Fortune 1000 company, he has access to big thinkers and thought leaders (and highly paid consultants along with attending key conferences that cost big bucks) but they’re still struggling with how to add value in a day when that is shifting, customer expectations have already shifted, and almost every former way of doing business needs to be freshened up a bit (or a lot!).

I immediately emailed him a link to this article at Strategy+Business, a magazine and website published by the global commercial consulting firm Booz & Company, called “The Trouble With Brands: Most consumer brands are not creating value. The exceptions share a set of “energized” attributes that companies can identify and exploit.

It starts off with this: “Many companies that produce goods and services for consumers face a serious dilemma — quite apart from the effects of the current global economic downturn. For at least the past five years, the tried-and-true formulas to boost the sales and market shares of brands have been becoming increasingly irrelevant and have been losing traction with consumers. Globally, the aggregate value of brands to consumers has been falling steadily, and this decline began well before the recent slump in stock prices.

Why is this happening? For the exact reasons that made my friend realize that someone hit the reset button and that we’ve all got to review, refresh and innovate around how we deliver value to those people we call customers. 

Though this has been a long time in coming, the power has shifted — and is continuing to shift quickly — toward consumers who are increasingly seeing through “strategies” and anything that smacks of manipulation in advertising. It’s one reason why I was at first suspect, and then won over, when I interviewed the ad agency, Fallon, executive about a product they’d created for social media users called “Skimmer”, for another publication I run called Minnov8.

It seems that their intention with this application was NOT to have a vehicle to simply deliver ads to social media users, but rather as a proof-of-concept to their clients that their direction with “brand generosity” was a true one and they were walking the talk by giving away a free application to the social media community, of which they are a key, participating member.

So it’s not just the shift that’s occurred with people always on and always connected online — interaccting with friends, colleagues, reading reviews and making decisions on products and services before buying, we’re also increasingly vocal about what we think a company or brand should do and what’s the right thing. NOT what the company wants or the messaging they hope to push at a customer and prospect “target”, but rather how they can engage the community in new and fundamentally different ways.

Yes, God hit the reset button and the world is rebooting. Get used to it if you manage your brand and you’d better learn quickly how to engage people online and deliver new sorts of value, or your offering will be devalued and devalued until it’s irrelevant.

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