How do you market to a marketer?

That’s the real brief as we wake up every day.

Consumers are way too adept and onto it. They’re seeing the same new news we are. Connecting is a pretty thing needle to thread – and our industry has never been more dynamic. There’s always a new insight, a new wrinkle that comes up overnight. There’s no annual update in Vegas for continuing education in advertising. It’s every day.

We’re ready for it – and we’re constantly building the team and the talent who want to push each other every day. What other industry thrives on future spontaneous moments? It’s a real life game of whack-a-mole in an evolving media eco-system.

Early on Susan Wojcicki at Google – now You Tube, added to the thought:

“Things Are Always Changing. Part of being successful here is being comfortable with not knowing what’s going to happen.”

And we humbly believe the ultimate Aristotle quote:

“The more you know – the more you know you don’t know.” It’s just not possible to be up to the second.

Consumers want to believe in brands and so do we. Believing has to be real – and it’s like a high school – you just need it. Then you can take on what’s next.

It seems like 2017 just started and we saw the latest challenge: “Let’s plan out 2018.” What do we know that we can work with? It’s possible to identify the possible contextually relevant moments. The tricky part is picking the right tone and moment with any certainty and timing that message in advance. It’s possible to anticipate consumer conversation, although so much will happen that tonality will be hard to imagine. It’s possible to be ready for the event of the month or even the season, being careful not to sound contrite that far in advance.

One thing is certain though. If it’s about the consumer first – and there’s a specific opportunity for the brand to enhance a consumer’s personal marketing plan, we have a shot at being contextually relevant and building a relationship. We’ve been looking at how and why consumers connect with brands for five years – and we’ve asked the question, “Who’s your favorite brand?” 15,000 times, since 2013. We dug deep into it – asking follow up questions – looking for threads of commonality.

We started to see momentum building in a very specific way – many of the top 100 brands each year have communities who are supporting their brands. Simon Sinek pointed it out in his book, Start with Why. Talking about Apple and Harley Davidson, “By any definition, these few companies don’t function as corporate entities. They exist as social movements.”

Ardent supporters own it. Brand value is high because consumer loyalty and buy-in is off the charts.

It goes back to the most basic of human needs – the need to belong. It’s right in the center of Maslow’s hierarchy – and brands that can break into this innate desire seem to do it and fly above the competition. When it happens, consumers are literally taking the lead – telling their friends – wearing the brand proudly whether it’s a logo on their laptop or a wave that they exchange with other Jeep owners.

It’s worth shooting for – and it happens because the time is spent to understand their needs – and deliver a way for them to gain status, create peer groups and join communities.

We were able to build it for La Gloria Cubana cigars last year. The La Gloria Society is composed of consumers who generate content and facilitate a club. Check out the #LGCsociety and you see loyalists spreading their enthusiasm for a brand that one consumer had tattooed on his arm.

Cracking the code for brand belief is our why. It’s why we are driven to leverage new thinking every day. To take the randomness of the spontaneous messages that make up our media and turn them into brand opportunities.

This year – as we dug into another 3,000 favorite brand responses, we asked specifically about clubs and communities. We went 40 questions deep – and here are just a few of the responses:

  • 70% of people say they want to represent their favorite brand
  • 20% of people said their favorite brand has a community, movement or club they support
  • 44% of people mentally smile when they see other people wear/using or owning a brand they feel inspires them

Our new presentation is ready for clients this month – coinciding with the re-launch of our site and credo. We believe the brief has changed. We are no longer saying “Buy the Brand.” We are saying “Join the Brand.

We’d love to share it. Let’s plan on it.