Many marketers find it hard to let consumers drive. It feels so counterintuitive. Command and control language permeates this business; we create ‘strategies’ to reach ‘target markets.’ So it stands to reason we’d have a hard time ascribing value to the opinions of a target. You hit targets, you certainly don’t listen to them.
Which explains why the Web 2.0 marketing revolution has been so slow to develop. Old habits die hard. Selling client brands? That’s our job, not the public’s.
But make no mistake. This attitude is based on habit, not truth. Because since 2007, the very first year the smart folks at Nielsen initiated their “Global Survey of Trust in Advertising”, the recommendations people make to their friends and family have topped the list of the most trusted form of product endorsement. This year, after canvassing nearly 30,000 people in nearly 60 countries regarding 19 types of media including paid, earned and owned, once again, word of mouth tops the list. And it’s been steadily climbing, up 6% since the survey began.
Yes, paid media still has a place, and an important place too. But those at the head of the marketing curve understand the crucially fundamental role public relations plays in brand marketing today. Because PR focuses on stories, on determining what people want to talk about today.
Today’s savviest marketers understand that it’s no longer just what you say. It’s also how you help others say that for you, how you make your brand message worth sharing.
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson