Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Anti Noise Manifesto

And it's Wednesday!

The last two days (here and here) we've been talking about relationships and it all started because my personal Yoda sent me this quote last week:

"Ideas will only get you so far these days.  Count on personal relationships to carry you farther.  The new economy is not just about the exchange of information; it's about the exchange of relationships.  Relationship management is nothing new, but with the advent of the internet as a communications infrastructure, it's more important than ever -- particularly at a time when there's more noise than ever.  To break through that noise, to get your message out, count on personal networks.  Relationships are the most powerful form of media."

Today, I'd like to talk about noise as it pertains to relationships.  I have Twitter always in the background as it helps me out of occasional writer's block and I've had great luck stumbling upon nuggets like the Mitch Joel interview I mentioned yesterday.  Had I not been in the "right" Twitter space at the "right" time reading the "right" tweet while disregarding others, I would have completely missed the interview and had nothing to share with you yesterday.  I'm totally engaged in talking to you at the moment but maybe I've missed the world's greatest tweet.  Who knows?  Pardon me while I go check...

I'm back...

Similarly, had my Best Buy posts (here and here) not been picked up by, I wouldn't have gone all the way to the Best Buy corporate site and I wouldn't have been interviewed.  Like I said, great luck and I'm thankful but these are not the kind of odds you want as you're building social media strategies to build (ultimately) relationships with customers and prospects.  Marketing by skywriter on a cloudy day will probably get you better results.

How do we break through the noise?  One interesting route is Virtual Communities.  I love them and I can't say enough good things about them.  I love that advocates and influencers own the brand essence and help marketers build relationships with new initiates and prospects.  This is where Best Buy really shines with both their IdeaX, a kind of online suggestion box for their customers, and their user forums as well as e.l.f. cosmetics as I've mentioned previously (here).  

The caution here is that these outlets can get noisy for those who are not schooled in the rules of the forum (fora?) or don't know how to navigate them.  And, frankly, noisy for us marketers who haven't taken the time (as urged by Mitch Joel) to map out the strategy to do it right.  As Jonathan Salem Baskin argues, allowing communities to talk about your brand and product doesn't free us from two things: reinforcing/rewarding the brand advocates and getting to know the customers and prospects better.  The danger to these communities is that it's easy to be lazy, it's easy to mistake noise for brand marketing and it's easy to mistake for relationship building.  The exchange is good but we have to work to keep it consistent with our underlying market strategy without being 1984.  Whew, that's hard, but I know it's something we all have the skills and focus to do.

Breaking through the noise in the search for something real and meaningful reminds me of the Millennial "haul videos" we talked about last week.  I'm beginning to understand them a little bit better!  In that post, we talked about the desire for something real or something that is relatable for that demographic.  Marketing seems to be devoid of messaging that demonstrates understanding of Millennial wants and needs.  In other words, it is full of noise and we've not fixed it yet.  

The haul videos are a blueprint for noise free content.  I read an interesting blog post from Millennial Marketing the other day on Social Friction.  The haul videos and this post teach us that by way of digital/online interaction, offline experiences improve greatly.  Because this group gets a bad rap, we just assume that all they want to do is log onto Facebook to post comments while texting at the same time.  The point here is because of the digital platform like a haul video, they can interact in the offline world with their friends at the places they want to be.  No fuss, no muss.  They're on the way to figuring this whole thing out.

Excuse me while I go upload a noise free, meaningful YouTube video.  In the meantime, please send me your thoughts and comments.  I look forward to hearing from you!


Parissa Behnia

p.s.  New gmail address for 678 Partners...  Exciting things are in store so please stay tuned!


  1. Social Network Marketing is about starting a dialogue with your customers, rather than shouting orders. A nice conversation with your customers may result in them thinking positively about your brand and they ll more than likely share the love with their friends. By having a discussion with your potential customers you may even discover flaws in your offering.

  2. If you want authenticity, you certainly get it in haul videos. I just hope we don't learn that some retailer starts paying millennials to "pose" as a hauler!

    That in fact would be an example of traditional marketing ideas sneaking in to sully the purity that is the potential of social media.

    As Millennials become a more potent segment of the purchasing population, retailers and others will be sure to listen. The winners, in my opinion, will be the companies who start listening now..

  3. A little ATP (Authenticity Touch Points) delivered the classic way - face to face, a hand written thank you note, etc. Am I off base here? What type of mileage do you think a brand marketer would get online after engaging with a consumer at point of consumption. People are starving for real world connectedness after all their virtual connectedness. Remember Parissa, Joel indicated it is all about engagement. You want to witness engagement, go down and watch kids at your local playground.