Yesterday, I took some time out from my job search and general marketing reading by volunteering at a company and brand that is close to my heart, Charlton Athletic Football Club, by cleaning seats in advance of the new season. Now, many will say that a football club is not a brand or a company (sorry guys, football is a business) but the logic of getting your most engaged and loyal customers to help you with promotion, product development and market research crosses all industries.
Of course companies have been using market research techniques for years in order to develop their products and services but since the surge in online marketing (including social media) and crowdsourcing, many companies have passed the baton of development and responsibility to the people who matter, the end-users.
Back in 2009, Walkers encouraged crisp lovers to create their own flavours (Cajun Squirrel anyone?), Baby Gap last year provided a platform on Facebook to customers to show off their products free of charge and just a couple of days ago, the BBC got involved in ‘crowdsourcing’ by trying to map the UK’s mobile coverage.
The traditionalists may see this method of marketing to be a cop-out and shifting responsibility away from the profession, but the hard work that goes into building brand loyalty and creating a willingness to engage is immense, and as a result, so are the rewards. Companies are making the people who are buying their products and services central to the offering therefore cementing their links to the brand.
People want to be involved and talk about the things that they enjoy, believe in or are important to them; whether it is a chocolate bar, a banking service or a football club. The more involved you make your customers feel in the decision-making process the better the end results.
Now I must rid myself of this smell of pine disinfectant…