For the first time in 42 years, “Saturday Night Live” produced Weekend Update segments all summer long that they shared on YouTube and their social channels. Many of these were quite funny (here are two of my favorites, but others made me yearn for the days of Point/Counterpoint with Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd — she “the ignorant slut” and he “the miserable failure.” These blistering debates never failed to amuse and cut deep on both sides of the topic at hand. In tribute to those comedians and as a reminder that renegade thinkers seek alternative perspectives, here’s our back-to-school marketing debate featuring five recent podcast guests.
Loyalty Can Be Bought
Despite having the broadest distribution with gas stations in all 50 states, Shell Oil found itself in the middle of the pack when it came to customer loyalty. Explains Dan Little, Shell’s Head of North America Marketing, “Less than 20% of the population is truly loyal to a single brand and the rest have a consideration set.” To address this challenge, Shell is spending $100 million to introduce Fuel Rewards, a loyalty program that delivers an immediate 5 cents-a-gallon savings and promises more cash along the way. Having tested and refined the program for six months in order to triple conversion rates, Shell has definitely removed “Can’t Buy Me Love” from its playlist.
Loyalty Can Be Earned
When Dan Gingiss arrived at Humana a couple of years back, the company’s average response time to customer inquiries via social media was 25 hours. Over the next six months he and teammate Jason Spencer reduced that average to around 20 minutes, becoming “best-in-class in the health care industry.” “[Customer] expectations were low…, I think you could tell it [the improvement] was a pleasant surprise and that it was successful in changing perceptions,” reports Gingiss, who has recently taken on the Global Social Media role for McDonald’s.
VR is the Story
For brands that have spanned several generations, using cutting-edge channels like VR sends a message in itself: “We’re not your grandma’s brand.” A recent example came from KFC, which made a big media splash with its virtual reality training game where the Colonel himself teaches new recruits how to cook chicken “The Hard Way.” While the VR game served up a fresh reminder that KFC chicken is actually hand prepared, even their Marketing VP George Felix admits this effort was as much a marketing stunt as it was a genuine training tool.
VR is About the Story
When you talk about VR with Abigail Posner, the head of Google’s creative think tank Zoo, her eyes light up like a pinball machine. Posner just completed an extensive anthropological study on virtual reality and immersive video, and she’s convinced we’re about to enter a whole new era of storytelling she best describes as “story living.” It’s not enough for marketers to accept the medium as the message, but rather they must entirely rethink their approach to messaging and create non-linear experiences that get to the “essence” of the brand.
It’s All About the Big Idea
For Year 2 of Silicon Valley Comic Con, CEO Trip Hunter dared to boldly go where no con had gone before, embodied in his anything-but-understated theme, “The Future of Humanity.” Hunter credits this vision in helping SVCC “engage companies like NASA, Virgin Galactic, SETI and a lot of quantum physicists at Cal Tech,” which in turn helped attract a whopping 67,000-strong audience. He also credits SVCC founder Steve Wozniak with the big commitment “to impact people in a way that other cons weren't.”
It’s All About the Little Touches
Hunter, a former Renegade, is also quick to offer his own counterpoint, acknowledging the critical importance of social media and the little touches that it can bring to the marketing party. “Social media is so key for these people because they're incredibly passionate,” he explained. Hunter shares a story about a fan suggestion via Facebook to have a cos-play show for dogs. “That idea became a huge component of SVCC that the press loved too.” He concluded, “In order to be able to tap into cosplayers, you really need social and you really need to be engaging them on that level.”
Final note: We’re proud to disclose that SVCC is a Renegade client. We would welcome the opportunity to show you how social media, especially in concert with story-driven content marketing, can help your business cut through.