I've been watching with interest as some of my blogging buddies posted their reactions to the blogger outreach campaign Edelman is running for Pepsi. The crew behind the outreach program picked twenty five social media and marketer influencers and sent them a preview of the new Pepsi cans. They also opened up a room in Friendfeed to foster discussion about the brand changes.
I chatted with Mack while his deliveries were arriving and was interested to see what was going to come of all this. Since then, I've had the chance to read recaps by bloggers like Mack, Chris Brogan, Peter Shankman and Valeria Maltoni and commentary from folks like Beth Harte.
My first thought was "my, oh my, do I not like that design." To me, it seems so stream lined and clean it looks...cheap. It also immediately made me think of the Obama. (Which then tempted me into going into photoshop to replace the Pepsi logo with the Obama logo and to try to figure out what the new Pepsi font was so I could replace "Pepsi" with "Obama." Luckily I ran out of time, so you only get my version of the can with the Obama logo and the Pepsi text intact.)
My second thought was "seriously, why do companies want to overhaul their logos all the time?" Now I understand giving a slight overhaul to a logo that's become dated. I've watched KFC and Pizza Hut and a few other chain restaurants make minor adjustments in the last few years that brought the image up to date while still retaining the original feel. This Pepsi change though...I don't like it and I tend to agree with Seth Godin's take on the subject.
My third thought was to wonder how long it will take before companies stop focusing on marketing bloggers and start focusing on their customers. A thought echoed by many of the other people blogging about this topic.
Target Your Evangelists
One thing Mack Collier and Beth Harte had in common with their commentary was the need for these companies to focus on their evangelists. Sure, sending stuff to the top marketing bloggers is a great way to get our industry buzzing, but there's no guarantee that buzz is going to trickle down to your passionate customers. In fact, there's a good chance it will backfire on you as they realize you see them (your biggest fans) as less important than the marketers you're hoping to impress.
Far better to find the people who are already absolute nuts about your products and who are out there telling the world about how great you are.
On that front, there's some good advice for companies like Pepsi.
I get totally wanting to reach out to bloggers to encourage them to write about your social media initiatives. But your online evangelists already have a built-in incentive to talk about you. They WANT to. And the size of their readership really doesn't matter, their wanting to promote you is what counts.
Beth Harte even offers up a nice ten step list of how she would have approached things. (Hint, the list is VERY heavy on engaging, gathering feedback from and rewarding existing Evangelists.)
If you're a company watching all this unfold or looking back at similar campaigns from companies like Nikon and Stormhoek, keep in mind that blog pitches are maturing. While you may generate a lot of links and buzz from approaching the digetari or marketing bloggers...you'll probably get more bang for your buck (and have an easier time getting coverage) if you focus on reaching out to the people who either already love your brand or who are representative of your target audience.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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