The business concept of rewards coupons is not new. S&H Green Stamps were among the original applications of the concepts. The fact that coupon cutting is now going on-line is not surprising to anyone. A second major trend is in the area of data collection. Supermarkets have learned that it is valuable for them to “pay” the customer in exchange for data that makes stocking and distribution more efficient. When combined, coupon + data is a tremendously valuable marketing and logistics tool.
The next development of coupon + data model is the notion that if a person likes a product, so too will their friends. This is the coupon + data + association model. Not surprisingly, the marketing value of the combination of these linked data increases almost exponentially.
Brands are now willing to pay dearly for information about the transaction as well as the social networks associated with a transaction. With the ability to track several layers of transaction and association, vendors can paint an extraordinarily accurate predictive model that can be used in their favor – and in competition against market challengers.
The half-life of noise
The hype is brisk and often short lived as most companies eventually run up against the proverbial viral backlash. Someone somewhere can just as easily elevate their own influence by challenging a big influencer. Privacy issues, fair trade issues, corporate responsibility issues are all fair game. Social media forces transparency in an organization too as controlled data can quickly become uncontrollable data.
The battlefield is strewn with the corpses of marketing campaigns gone horribly wrong. Even Groupon, once touted as the champion of mom and pop shops across the land is now accused of dumping economic “sugar calories” into a zero sum game where size does matter – a lot. Groupon is now used by competitors against each other thereby wrecking havoc on Mom and Pop Shops across the land.
Help, I need a Guru
Social Media Gurus continuously pound home the message that they must find their customers grazing in their own pasture and engage them in order to be truly accepted into the herd. Now the Gurus have all the vendors looking like wolves in sheep’s clothing – nothing could be more obvious or look more ridiculous.
The inherent flaw is that companies are designing and delivering products predicted to interact with people in their own setting. Instead, they must develop a set of products and services that are designed to facilitate human interaction with each other in their own setting – and as a consequence, filter out all the noise that wastes valuable social time.
Coupon + knowledge inventory + anonymity.
Learning what people know does not mean that they need to give up their identity. Joining people who have complimentary knowledge is a superior value creation mechanism than harvesting relationships already played out. The ability to protect and empower the customer in their home setting is the greatest branding opportunity on Earth. The ability to filter out the noise is the single greatest competitive advantage that any marketing campaign can ever enjoy. The ability to bring communities of people together to solve the problems of their own choosing is far more powerful than trying to convince people that they have a problem for which only you have the solution.
This is the capitalization of silence.
Image by Horst Schmier