Warming up to Marketing as Service

When advertising no longer talks at you but actually does something for you, then it becomes a service. Samsung places charging stations in airports and road warriors get the fuel they need to carry on the battle. The longer the program runs, the longer everybody wins. Samsung gets meaningful exposure, airports get happier travelers and consumers come to recognize Samsung as a helpful & reliable “mobile” resource. The exchange of value is crystal clear.

That’s why I’m only lukewarm about a new program from Kraft as reported by MediaPost:

In the Windy City this month, frozen commuters and holiday shoppers will be treated to heated bus shelters and samples of Stove Top’s new Quick Cups instant stuffing, courtesy of Kraft Foods.


“Stove Top Stuffing is all about warming up families with hot, delicious meals when the temperatures drop,” said brand manager Ellen Thompson in a release, “and we wanted a stand-out way to demonstrate this to consumers this holiday season.”

This is a thin a commitment to Marketing as Service as you will find. Only 10 bus shelters are being heated and only in Chicago. 49 other markets will just see bus shelter ads. So really, this is a insincere stunt that Kraft hopes will inspire lots of PR. And perhaps it will (which may be enough for them.)

Imagine for a moment Kraft committed to bus shelters in cold cities the way Samsung has to airport terminals. Commuters would be thanking Kraft by the bus load and telling all their friends how the kind folks from Glenview warmed them up on a frigid morning. Cities would be competing to get the Kraft bus shelter program as a way of encouraging and rewarding the use of public transportation.

Okay, maybe I’m dreaming but I’d bet on this approach versus 49 markets worth of bus shelter posters that get the cold shoulder treatment from ad-weary consumers. Marketing as Service has the potential to transform the way consumers interact with and perceive your brand. And to quote one genius at self-promotion, “that’s hot.”

4 Tips for Brand Experiences that Stick

This article appeared on iMediaConnection on July 7, 2008.

Check out these simple ways to convert prospects into customers and then into card-carrying brand evangelists.

#1. Consider marketing as service

Brand experiences, whether physical or virtual, if done correctly can convert prospects into customers and then customers into card-carrying brand evangelists. These experiences are by definition interactive, encouraging dialogue and ideally an intimate and unforgettable dance between brand and consumer. Here are four thoughts on how to turn your brand experiences into dances of a lifetime.

When brands create experiences that provide a real service, magical things happen. Because “marketing as service” provides a real value, the brand pulls customers and prospects into it, rather than pushing a message at them. This natural engagement deepens relationships with existing customers, forms strong bonds with new ones and helps generate favorable word of mouth.

Charmin showed its get-up-and-go when it installed restrooms in Times Square, providing welcome relief for more than a half million holiday tourists. The service was unexpected, memorable, relevant and good clean fun. Samsung has electrified road warriors by installing mobile device charging stations in five major U.S. airports. Given the annoying paucity of outlets in terminals, this service is pumping up Samsung’s image as a friend indeed to the mobile world.

#2. It all starts with an insight — even chotchkes!

In order to cut through effectively, the experience must derive from a sound strategic insight relevant to the brand. While handing out fun premiums might drive traffic, it rarely builds brand loyalty unless it extends the conversation and reinforces what the brand stands for. When my company’s client, Panasonic, wanted to engage action sports enthusiasts, they needed an insight that gave them permission to “hang” with this otherwise skeptical crowd. The insight they found was that capturing and sharing tricks was an inherent part of the action sports lifestyle. Since Panasonic made the video and still cameras that captured the tricks, and the TVs to see them on, they had a legitimate reason to “Share the Air” with this community.

Panasonic’s Share the Air program featured a camera loaner program at each of the five stops of the AST Dew Tour. With the swipe of a driver’s license, attendees got their hands on a new video or digital still camera to record the cool tricks that they saw during the day’s competition. And to make the experience memorable, participants could take a Panasonic-branded SD card home containing all of their pictures. The Share the Air microsite kept the experience alive, allowing attendees to blog with their favorite athletes on a daily basis, and deliver incentives to purchase Panasonic products at local dealers. All of these elements combined to make Panasonic a brand of choice among action sports enthusiasts.

#3. Extend the experience seamlessly

Ideally, an event will accomplish a variety of goals beyond informing and engaging an audience and generating buzz/PR. One essential function of an event is to drive prospects and customers to a complimentary online experience. Not only will this help amortize the high cost-per-touch of an event, but also it will lead to a long-term customer relationship by extending the experience.

In a perfect world, a single agency should have the capabilities to execute these complimentary event and online experiences. This approach is the most cost effective and ensures consistency of look and tonality across all channels of communication.

#4. Measure, measure and measure again

The goal should always be to cut through the first time. To accomplish this, metrics for success must be established upfront. Marketers need to set benchmarks via pre-event research to compare with post-event data.

In addition to tracking event attendance; time with brand and perceptual changes and sell-in and sell-through, consider adding Net Promoter Score to your measurement arsenal. NPS is a simple and reliable way to measure the likelihood of someone recommending your brand to a friend (i.e., word of mouth). Since NPS can be measured online as well, it will also help you understand if your online experience is as strong as the offline one.

Additional online metrics, including unique visitors, time-on-site, pre/post NPS and online commerce data (if relevant), will help complete the tally, ensuring you know which elements should be cut and which cut through.

The Bloom is on the Rose of Marketing as Service

Jonah Bloom (editor-in-chief of AdAge) scribes a savvy look at Marketing as Service in his editorial called “Make Your Marketing Useful, Like Samsung and Charmin” in this week’s AdAge. Not one to mince words, Jonah goes so far as to suggest that large advertisers “take a small chunk out of those billion-dollar budgets and help provide a free, helpful service.”

In addition to detailing Samsung’s Airport Charging Stations, Jonah offers up this example from the UK:

One of my favorite examples came from Metro newspapers in the U.K., which spent some of its launch marketing budget repairing and improving inner-city sports facilities. It was a good way to get the Metro name emblazoned into the very fabric of the cities in question and a clever way to give the brand a bit of “history” within the city.

After mentioning yours truly, this blog and the HSBC BankCab, Jonah goes on challenge Citi and AT&T directly with these suggestions:

AT&T, for example, how about you spare a few million from the billion you spend shoving your bars in my face, and help the MTA fix its Subway intercoms? Or Citi, how about you take some of the hundred million a year you spend telling us how friendly you are to construct a wireless network for New York?

Go Jonah. Delighted to have you on board the good ship Marketing as Service. And while I agree that it would be great to have subway intercoms that work and a wireless network for Gotham, I’m not certain I would have recommended to either of these clients that they take on these particular challenges. I won’t go into my reservations here but rather offer up a challenge to you all to come up some other ideas for these two clients. Winner gets a free ride in the BankCab and of course, adulation in this here blog. As my son would say, “bring it.”

Powerful Samsung Service

Samsung Charging StationMaybe this scenario sounds familiar–you’re at an airport between flights and you’re desperate to power up your laptop and cellphone and maybe even your iPod. You search everywhere, drawing strange looks as you get down on all fours to look under the occupied chairs for a solitary unused outlet. Half the time you have to walk so far from your gate that you risk missing the next flight. And it makes you wonder if the people who design these buildings actually travel themselves. Why can’t there just be outlets where you need them?

Well the folks at Samsung picked up on this problem on 2007 and have subsequently installed “charging stations” in 5 heavily trafficked airports including LAX, JFK, DFW and most recently LaGuardia and Orlando. What a powerful idea!

According to Bill Ogle, Chief Marketing Officer of Samsung Mobile in a press release:

The Samsung Mobile Charging Stations are an easy way to reduce some of the stress that can come with traveling for business and vacation alike. The charging stations are easy to find and simple to use. We expect them to be as big a hit with travelers passing through these major cities.

Samsung found an unmet need, offering a genuine service to the frequent traveler. The stations are also quite relevant to the mobile products Samsung offers and certainly will make existing customers feel good about their brand. The medium is the message with the charging stations, showing not saying that Samsung will help you when you’re mobile. Samsung is definitely plugged into the idea of Marketing as Service.