Make that connection (even if it means blurring lines to do it)

Getting a consumer’s attention can be difficult in today’s world and finding ways to connect with them even more so. Jennifer Leppington-Clark, Group Account Director at H+K Strategies in South Africa looks at how (smart) brands are turning to technology as they seek new ways to engage consumers.

We’ve known for a while that the world is becoming more and more connected. Technology has allowed us to chat via Skype to friends and family anywhere in the world, Facebook means we can see pictures of what our chosen network is up to, Pinterest enables us to collectively lust after that designer kitchen and of course the Internet means that you can access pretty much any information that you want, on anything.

What is even more exciting though is that now brands are using technology and content to talk to and engage consumers in interesting ways. I saw a post on Twitter the other day that asked me to download an app (Junaio – an augmented reality app) and then to use it to scan in the Ponds Gold Radiance Day Crème image (in a magazine advert) to reveal hidden content. I duly followed the instructions to reveal a short video with renowned South African designer David Tlale talking about the product.

This sort of technology is not new of course – and the technically au fait out ...

there have probably seen this all before. But the fact that we’ve moved from a simple static advert in print to a Twitter post with a call to action, to hidden content scanned by a cell phone app is certainly a new and exciting way to market brands.

The Coca-Cola Company, a leader in innovation and marketing, is one of the companies that is constantly looking for new and exciting ways to engage consumers. A campaign in Australia allowed consumers to enjoy drinks with customised labels that replaced the word “Coke” with their names. In Japan Coca-Cola partnered with Sony to give consumers access to free downloads of songs linked to their year of birth.

Similarly Apple – another great innovator – announced earlier this month that it has appointed Angela Ahrendts, currently the CEO of Burberry, as SVP of its retail and online stores. Ahrendts will presumably follow in the footsteps of Steve Jobs who helped to pioneer the concept of making technology as beautiful as it is functional (think the beauty of Apple products from the look and feel of the packaging to the devices themselves).

The point is that getting consumers to buy your products/services is no longer just about making sales; it’s about speaking to and connecting with consumers so as to build strong brand love. Finding new ways to connect is in today’s market place a necessity and not an option, and successfully connecting with consumers using social media is quickly blurring the lines between traditional marketing and digital gimmicks, especially among brands whose strong use of technology is fast making them seem like technology companies.

As quoted in an article by Forbes.com, the lines between some traditional companies and technology companies as we know them are blurring at a rapid pace, owing largely to digital transformation that is taking over business.

With many of today’s younger consumers always looking at a screen (blame the tablets, phablets and smartphones) they are constantly being bombarded with messages, but it’s only brands that truly connect with them that can claim to have successfully spoken to their target audiences. As businesses look for new ways to make more sales in an increasingly competitive market, they’re taking a couple more things into consideration: lifestyle, reaching consumers with interesting content and finding new ways to connect. Even print ads are no longer static. They have gone digital, offering a video experience and a new way to deliver interactive content as traditional print re-invents itself to avoid dying out.
You want to be successful in today’s market? I say look away from your traditional marketing and PR strategies and begin to speak to your target consumers using what they’re really interested in: technology. Exciting times ahead indeed.