While plenty was discussed about algorithms and beating those algorithms, much of the content reinforced the importance of word of mouth through innovation, storytelling and having a relationship with your customers to be memorable.
Why a “Yes, And” Mentality Propels Innovation
My week appropriately started with a session on innovation by creativity & innovation consultant, Duncan Wardle. It was a great workshop that got all of us involved and thinking about how we think. We faced the hard truth about how the structure of our day-to-day makes it exceedingly hard for us to innovate and come up with that incredible idea.
If we are stuck in our own routine, how are we going to create an idea that takes others out of theirs? One of Wardle’s exercises reflects one of Empower’s core values, “Yes, And,” which he first started with “No, Because,” showcasing how we can kill an idea before it has a chance to evolve. It was enlightening how ideation can be hindered by routine and that simple things can help us to get out of it — walking meetings, taking a different route to work or even bringing in a naïve expert into a brainstorm. For instance, Wardle invited a customer service rep to a brainstorm and it resulted in a great idea because the rep knew what customers were looking and asking for regularly, and they didn’t think with a marketing mentality.
The And, But, Therefore of Storytelling
Once you have the right idea, two sessions really helped clarify the process of bringing that idea to fruition.: idea implementation by Brad Martineau, and storytelling by Park Howell.
Martineau’s business is all about empowering entrepreneurs and brought the hard process to light about getting your great idea off the ground, linking it to your “little Saturday project that turned into five visits to The Home Depot.” Just because you are in a hurry to bring your idea to life, you can’t pass all the steps needed to make that happen. Another way the right idea can get tripped up is your explanation of it. If it’s clunky or not memorable, it will likely fail.
Howell has built a business on effective storytelling and spoke to the need for telling your story to tell it again to the consumer with a simple framework of “AND, BUT, THEREFORE.” He says it should make a statement of agreement AND increase its importance, BUT add contradiction or conflict and THEREFORE provide your resolution. “People are making up their story about your idea unless you are clear in what you are telling them,” says Martineau, and that story can bring the message to life much like his story about trips to The Home Depot brought to life the importance of planning.
Implementing “Talk Triggers” to Amplify Word of Mouth
New York Times best-selling author, Jay Baer, led my favorite session when he showed us how small acts can get our customers to amplify word of mouth with “Talk Triggers.” He gave a variety of examples from Cheesecake Factory’s massive menu to DoubleTree hotel’s chocolate chip cookies, showing that it’s a choice to do something different, but those choices can be memorable. Each of these triggers carry the same four traits to be successful: remarkable, repeatable, reasonable and relevant. To be remarkable, they must be noticeably different from everyone else. To be repeatable, they must treat all customers equally. To be reasonable, they cannot be so big where people don’t trust them. To be relevant, it must make sense — a food brand shouldn’t be giving away an iPad.
Now this isn’t a “marketing campaign.” This is a mindset organizational shift to be/do more than the same, to break through the saturation. Marketing messages can do a lot, if the organizations are invested in making those messages reality. If not, it ends up being more noise and sows more distrust among consumers in advertising.
Embracing The Super Fans
Wrapping up the week, podcast star Pat Flynn (no relation) had a lively keynote about showing your super fans the love and attention they are already showing you. We as companies and marketers spend a great deal of time trying to turn casual consumers into long-term customers while often ignoring those who are already engaged regularly. We lose sight of them because they are already there, but with some small pushes, they could pull more people into the mix. Fans don’t appear overnight; It takes a series of events that must happen to build a relationship. That is the true essence of word of mouth — giving people the means and methods to share your story for you.
In conclusion, social media is much more than platforms and algorithms. In today’s data and tech driven world, it’s imperative we remember that without social beings (people), social media is no longer social. It’s just another media platform. Brands must remember to humanize their interactions with consumers to build authentic relationships that will sing the praises of brands they love.