For a few years at this point, I’ve written about Brands Worth of a Weekend – where the weekend in question is a one for enthusiasts to come together and bond with the people behind their passion brands. Meanwhile, Influencer Events – where influentual bloggers/tweeters and the like are invited to spend a day or two having a brand experience – have exploded in frequency. While each may be classified as events for content creators and there are some best practice similarities (make personal connections, send a thank you, be clear about where and how content can be tagged), I would argue that there are even more differences.
The below table is a consolidation of lessons shared in an internal discussion of 360 DI strategists across the network for best practices before during and after an event.
- Co-Create the event agenda. They already know a lot about the brand and will be able to offer a lot of instruction on what they want to see.
- This is also an opportunity to build excitement – send something for them to wear to arrive or a special assignment.
- Provide opportunities to experience the brand prior to the event so that they will get the most out of the time on the ground.
- Also, ask them what would be helpful – many bloggers have had multiple of these experiences and can tell you what they do and don’t want.
- You don’t need to “sell” this group on the brand, but the bar on what constitutes “exclusive” experiences or information will be very high as they already know so much.
- The opportunity is for time for people to connect – enthusiasts to one another and to brand teams.
- Give a thorough “background” (origin, invention or founding story) to level set on knowledge
- Air out your agenda to allow lots of time for liveblogging & tweeting
- Design photo ops or “moments” worthy of documenting. Shoot video footage, photos, or audio as appropriate.
- Provide ongoing ways to stay in touch with the people assembled (Facebook group, brand community, etc)
- Channel your enthusiasts’ energy! Provide suggestions for ways they can help you – product testing, house parties, store visits – see how they might want to help.
- Follow up with edits of the media you created and any appropriate tagging instructions for media uploads
- Keep this group at the top of your list for other outreach opportunities
An additional follow up consideration for all, especially for complex programs, is Social Influencer Relationship Management.
If you have some experience designing or participating in these brand events, please throw in your $.02. I think it could benefit all parties to avoid the pitfalls in mistaking participants invited due to their audience and influence for people who are already passionate about everything your brand does.
I received a letter from Marie Gray, CEO of St. John Knit at home this week.
I assumed it would be about the economy. That’s why we hear from CEO’s these days, right?
It wasn’t. It was a 5 paragraph letter about a major change in the staple color of the staple fabric of the classic clothing line: the black Santana knit. For various reasons including the environmental impact of dyes, the fabric color dying process has changed over the years. Marie Gray writes that she had noticed that recent “black” collections had a bluish cast and had migrated far too close to their navy blue color. So, they innovated. They created a new process that would use less water and energy and produce a truer black that will be called “Caviar”.
Why does this matter to loyal customers like me? In short, your old stuff won’t match the new stuff. Part of the beauty of the items is that they last forever and you can mix and match items from lines and years. It is garanimals for grownups. The letter mentions that all stores and consultants have been armed with swatches of old black, navy, and new caviar for people to compare for themselves and prepare for the changes. It also reinforces St. John’s commitment to craftsmanship at a time when other brands are focused on discounting which re-reinforces why this is a brand worthy of of a weekend – as well as my loyalty and respect. While I wont be making any big purchases any time soon, the swatch compare will drive me into the store on my next NYC trip and who knows, maybe caviar will be hard to resist.
As I review some of your generous input on Brands Worthy of a Weekend, I am developing a list of characteristics to help identify a BWOW before you chose your next business partner or give your money to a new vendor. I plan to share all of them over the next few weeks, but today’s shining example is Southwest Airlines.
It’s not because they are the first US airline to begin testing onboard broadband internet (although, seriously, kudos). It’s the fact that Southwest Airlines honors their customers. Southwest doesn’t need to state what customers deserve from flying SWA because they actively demonstrate this honor and respect through every touchpoint.
The company’s “Nuts About Southwest” blog is a group blog in the largest sense of the word. It features posts not just from employees all over the company – boasting titles from “Sr. Manager of Proactive Customer Service Communication” to “structural mechanic”, but from customers as well. In particular the blog has been featuring the adventures of a customer through his Persian gulf deployments and has continued to “adopt” the other servicemen onboard the USS Nimitz. Yesterday’s post from the USS Nimitz’ Marco Meloni isn’t the stuff of slick PR, but it demonstrates a genuine respect for the people who keep Southwest in business – their customers.
Updated 9:30am: Southwest also listens. They sent a kind comment of thanks within 2 hours of this initial post.
Last night, whilst watching something shameful off my DVR (ah, strike TV), I saw a self-described redneck get a tattoo of a Wrangler jeans label on the part of his body over which that label would normally sit.
So that started me thinking, why do people make their brand love permanent with tattoos? I understand the desire to closely associate with a brand whose philosophy you share, but brands are run by people and change over time. It takes extreme faith in a company’s desire to stay true to the brand’s meaning to break out needles.
Nike is so enamored of the idea of their employees making a permanent commitment, that in Fall 2000, they brought tattoo artists to campus “just in case there was interest” and about 30 “Ekins” (Nike spelled backwards) took the plunge. The phenomenon of the swoosh tattoo rippled out from there. Another extreme example of brand tattooing is Disney Tattoo Guy, who sports Disney icons on 90% of his body. Permanent promotion! Maybe tattoo artists should be brought to more gatherings of brand fans “just in case” someone decides to join the tribe.
Below, I am sharing a smattering of brand tattoos that I found particularly entertaining – the final being a potentially cautionary tale about how tattoo meanings can change as brands do.
And, oh, how things change…
Are there any brands for which you feel such a passion that you’d make it permanent? And I thought a weekend was a commitment!