Tactile Communication In The Social Era
Today we feature an opinion piece by Phuket-based luxury marketing expert Michael Aumock on the dynamic shift of communication in the social era, read on…
"Every company in the civilized world is thinking about social media marketing and how to make it work for them. For most businesses, social media is like an exotic language that is only spoken by people under 30. The people in senior management know they should learn it but opt for a translator instead. Often times, because there is a disconnect between top management and the social media marketing people, companies end up going for volume instead of quality. This creates noise in the marketplace.
As the voices get louder and multiply, anything worthwhile in the message is bound to get lost. One of the differentiators is going to be something called tactile communication. Tactile communication, as the name would imply, is the transference of knowledge from a tangible experience. It is the marketing equivalent of the old adage:
"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand."
If the goal is to get your consumers to DO…and thereby understand, then tactile communication is the method by which you will accomplish this goal. Tactile communication is the result of a memorable tangible experience…an experience that engages more than just the sense of sight and sound. Email is not a tangible experience. Neither is watching a 15 second ad with a coupon attached. The goal is to create an autobiographical memory- a memory that is part of one's own experience ("I LOVED driving this car today!'), not an explicit memory- which is based more on facts or figures ("The car I saw costs $19,900").
Getting hit in the side of the head with a snowball is certainly an example of a tangible experience, and for our purposes, it will be a great example.
What happens as a result of that experience? What is the fallout? What sort of tactile communication is happening as cold water slides down the side of your neck? You immediately develop a strong feeling about this experience…you don't like it, it's cold and uncomfortable. It hurts, it's wet, and if anyone was watching, it's embarrassing. The next time you see someone making a snowball, you will be acutely aware of this memory…more importantly, you can recall the memory of the experience in an instant, if you need to, through a visual or audible cue.
It is the fact that the experience is unavoidably memorable that matters. Not the snowball, not the cold, not the wet. The memory is significant. Like a first kiss with Monica Ricci, or the first time we smell sour milk… it etches itself into our memory banks in a manner that we can recall years later with remarkable clarity. In the social era, companies who can have that impact and effect on their consumers will be the ones with legions of devoted followers. In a social media driven landscape of a thousand neon harpies screaming for your money, tactile communication will be the soothing voice that brings you in from the cold.
It is that recollection, and the ability of influencers to RELATE that recollection-that feeling-to the people that they influence, that is the most highly desirable marketing result in the social era.
As more and more of our lives take place on a 2"x3" screen, consumers will hunger for more and more interpersonal and tactile experiences from the companies we do business with because that familiarity is ultimately going to take the place of comfort that friends and families held for generations past. It is the companies who are flexible, nimble and fast moving enough to keep these relationships fresh, consistent and TRUE that will thrive in the coming years.
But it's not going to be a mass media thing…by definition, it can't be. It will be the smaller, more personal, more communicatively tactile methods that define the nature of marketing in "the 'teens". The flow of information will cease to be a push only from B to C. What will take its place is niche marketing, through unique and highly engaged systems that open a dialogue, and take positive action based on the results of the conversations. There will be the B to C , the C to B and most importantly the C to C conversations that are able to have an impact on the direction of the company. Positive peer to peer discussions are the results of a positive tactile event where a company has been able to successfully bridge the gap between consumer and business, to make that consumer feel "safe" within the confines of the conversation at hand, and the consumer then relates that feeling of safety and comfort to their peers.
It would be very easy to dismiss this as marketing meets new-age, touchy-feely event planning.
That would be a mistake.
Events in and of themselves have historically been a way for companies to promote a product or launch a new division or tell a story. Tactile communicative marketing might be event-based, but it says, "I've got an idea for a story, and I want your input to make it great so you can tell your friends, and we'll all be part of the ongoing narrative." The trust between peers is exponentially higher than that of B to C, so the value is there, if the company takes the time to engage the consumer at "once upon a time" instead of waiting until "happily ever after."
Companies who set out with this in mind will not only position themselves for success in a profit and loss sense, but they will build a small army of followers who are enchanted-and rightfully so-at being part of the story they tell about your brand to their peer group. They are invested in the story because when the company listened to them, it made them part of it.
Imagine you are launching a new condominium project. There are dozens of similar projects going up around town, but your marketing team decides to engage some of the local influencers and potential clients before sales start. They take them to the site, buy them lunch, show them the location, what the views will be like where the pool and gym will be and what the fit and finish will be like. Then, after lunch… They ask for feedback, and LISTEN. They take the feedback and actually incorporate it into the marketing plan. Each person gets to be part of a small, elite group that thinks the same way about your product or service. They will take ownership because they take comfort in it and want the people that are important to them to find comfort in the same things they do.
How do we create these "Business to Consumer to Peer" conversations? With tangibly communicative events designed to engage consumers on a level that makes them feel genuine comfort. With events that provide a venue to demonstrate that the company genuinely cares about their concerns and desires for the product, and inspires them to share with their peers. By asking a question and listening to the answer. By acknowledging that consumers who invest in a brand have just as much at stake as the brand itself when they recommend it to their peers, albeit on a personal level.
By inviting them to DO…and helping them UNDERSTAND."