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Delivering on the Brand Promise
By: Beth M. Wood
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Whether your marketing promotion relies on traditional vehicles or social media, there is one constant: the call to action. The verb that appeals to consumers’ sense of purpose: Win a prize, Enter a contest, Visit the retailer, buy, click, send, collect, try, tell, share, like…the list goes on and on. It’s an if-then; if the consumer acts, the brand will provide them with something.
But what happens once a consumer takes the requested action? Then, it’s Fulfillment’s turn: to gather, respond, reimburse, pack, ship. What began with a concept is turned into a project that involves an account team, a creative team, a web developer, etc. But it is fulfillment that makes the program come to life. 
Fulfillment is an oft-overlooked piece of the marketing puzzle. It’s not pretty, or exciting. Fulfillment doesn’t sound sexy. It might not be the job title young marketers want on their resume or their business card.  Especially not in today’s world, where buzzwords like Social, Community, and Viral reign supreme. 
But a closer look at what Fulfillment actually is might surprise you.
Fulfillment is defined as the “act of fulfilling; completion; realization; the process or business of handling and executing.” It’s the delivery of the marketing promise.
So while fulfillment might not be glamorous, it is easily defined. It’s a clear road map from start to finish. And the delivery of this marketing promise is tangible: a sample, a prize, a promotional kit, swag. It’s neatly packaged and delivered. Fulfillment makes the brand look good by delivering on the brand promise through timeliness, quality, and accuracy.
Social media is not so simply defined. It’s a road map with no clear destination. Those who work in this sphere are pushing forward based on current knowledge, best guesses, trial and error, instincts, and the understanding of what it is people (consumers) want: Information, communication, stuff. Social media is all about engagement. Rather than a wrapped-up, tangible deliverable, it’s virtual deliverables in real-time, 24/7, every minute, every second of the day. 
Social media, then, is fulfillment…it’s the virtual delivery of a promise. It works to make the brand look good by delivering that promise through personality, communication, and information, whether that’s hourly tweets, weekly posts, links to relevant information, one-on-one communication, or knowledge. When someone becomes a follower or fan, they do so because they believe they’ll get something from a brand that they don’t already have — information or entertainment, perhaps. The sheer act of being in the social space — creating a Twitter account, or Facebook page — is a brand promise. Once a brand has followers, it becomes its job to deliver it.

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About the Author
Beth M. Wood is VP, Promotion & Events at SJI, Inc., a full-service marketing agency, where she also serves as Social Voice (and butterfly). As a writer and 14-year veteran of the industry, she has a unique left-brain, right-brain perspective on all things marketing. Follow along @SJI_Inc.
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