There's an old marketing adage that goes something like; "You don't have to be first to market to win, you just have to be first to the mind."
The 'just' part of that sentence is unfortunately the hard part. More art than science.
Why? We, humans, are more inclined to connect with, and recall, stories than facts and figures. This is the super power utilised by brands. A good brand is one which has a compelling story to tell which is easy to identify with, internalise and remember. Thus, occupying mind space.
What's interesting is how such a brand story gets distributed. Assuming a brand is able to reach people and have them hear their story in the first place, finding a way to get other people to spread the message on your behalf is critically important.
A good indication that a story is spreading is when you notice "people are saying that people are saying [something about your brand]".
To get direct customers of your brand to respond positively is one thing. Having them talk to others about you is another. Further still, having said 'others' actually pay attention is the important part. So, sadly, for most marketers, having their brand's 'content' cheaply shared on social media is not quite that elusive 'word of mouth' growth they were perhaps looking for. It takes more than that.
One recent example of 'people are saying that people are saying' is Snap. Not for their well-known disappearing photos app, Snapchat; but for the story they are telling around their recent IPO filling. Take a look at their well-polished roadshow video.
As a social media company, there are many comparisons being made between Snap and Facebook. Yet Snap's S1 document tells a very different story to Facebook's back in 2012. User engagement and revenue growth both positive stories for Snap. Yet they remain unprofitable bearing large operating costs (with $2bn going out the door over the next 5 years on a Google cloud contract).
In anticipation of Wall Street scrutiny, Snap have been quick to position themselves as a different kind of company. An 'innovation' company. With CEO, Evan Spiegal, as the Steve Jobs-esque visionary. A company that declares it can innovate faster than any other company. True perhaps, however, I imagine Snap intends to use this claim to justify their less than perfect financials for a company about to go public. A promise that they're doing just fine and will innovate their way to profitability. The story's true test will be if it has any effect on the banks who will play their part in the success of Snap's IPO.
What's interesting here is how I came across this claim of Spiegal being the innovator. Not from Snap directly (despite hints of it in the roadshow video); but from other sources. Analysts on twitter. Journalists on tech blogs. Thoughts leaders on podcasts.
These were people saying that people are saying. And it's now influenced my perception of the brand, Snap. Not by force. By inception.
Most of the time we're not conscious of these works of marketing mastery. But this time I couldn't help but notice.
It goes without saying that traditional advertising is in decline. We've far too much abundant media to switch to whenever we're interrupted with shouty ads. If we're entering the connection economy it seems as though 'influencer marketing' may well become simply 'marketing' in the not too distant future. The ROI is perhaps just too good to ignore.