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February 3, 2009
How Can Media Build Advocacy?
 
It’s the question of the hour at our company. We all agree that building advocacy is the way to build top and bottom line sales. After all, who’s a better spokesperson than a brand advocate. They talk on behalf of brands and then we can save all those marketing dollars, right?
 
Well… not exactly. 
 
How do we get people to START talking about brands? Today, there are multitudes of options… consumers aren’t just determining the messages they get – but what those messages are…No, they’re mandating how (and when) we market to them. Yet, so many of us aren’t listening.
 
Recently, we embarked on developing an engagement plan for a client. We put the call out to several large media companies requesting a multi-platform, multi-million dollar proposal that helped build advocacy among our core target. We provided briefs, had in person meetings and made ourselves readily available to work together to develop a breakthrough, advocacy building partnership.
 
However, what we got in return was more of the same old sponsorships. It seems our media partners, no matter how often we redirected them, are still unable to think past “put your logo here” type advertising. Maybe we didn’t direct them well enough. We’re all still figuring this out. But, the challenge is: How can “mass,” “traditional (I hate this word),” “broad reaching” media still engage a consumer in a dialogue? How can we spark consumers to take an action and start the dialogue?
 
We know it’s possible. Think about the brands you talk about every day… Apple, Target, Diet Coke and Verizon have done it. 
 
So, how can we use media to build advocacy? It comes down to taking a new approach to media/contact/engagement planning. We’ve talked about it as unwiring our old media selves. Building on the power of each conversation. Start with the most targeted media and create a dialogue. Then, build out to awareness vehicles. A few ground rules:
 
  1. The message and the medium working together has never been more important. Creative and media HAVE to work together. Either in a silo is recipe for failure. 
 
  1. Awareness building media still has a role. No one is advocating death to mass media (yet). The question is what is the new role for mass media? Awareness media can no longer stand on its own. It has to work in concert with other vehicles to be a catalyst sparking a conversation and driving consumers to an experience path. A place where they can engage with our brands… on THEIR terms. Mass media
 
  1. We need a new measurement protocol for media. The vehicles most likely to drive advocacy are the ones least likely to “make the cut” if we use traditional ways to evaluate them. Reach and frequency, CPM, impressions… media people need to stretch beyond the numbers and look at the opportunity each medium provides to establish a two-way dialogue. We need to create a new language to evaluate them… advocacy rating points, maybe?
 
The good news is that there’s so much upside potential because there aren’t many media outlets nor agencies doing it well. Back to my original example… We ended up in a great place for that client. Working in tandem with our media partners externally, and our creative, account and brand planning partners internally, we delivered a “media” plan that will not only engage our target on their terms, but continually provide them with information they can use. 
 
No print publication made the plan unless they could deliver one of our engaging units. Our digital partners will be driven by engagement and performance metrics and our broadcast outlets will extend beyond the :30 spot in unique and intriguing ways. Our plan is built with strong metrics. If we are missing in any major area, we’ll make on-the-fly revisions to the plan.
 
Oh yeah… and we presented a media plan without a flowchart or a single number in it. 
 

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Judy Popky has been with 22squared for eight years. She manages engagement plans for all clients. Previously, Judy spent eight years at Ogilvy. Her experience spans most categories: Buffalo Wild Wings, Southeast Toyota, Orlando CVB, Publix, Shoe Carnival, Florida’s Natural, First Tennessee, Lincoln Financial, SunTrust, BellSouth, Russell Athletic, Pirelli, Triumph Motorcycles, Food Lion, Kodak, and McCormick. Along with the numerous creative media awards she’s won, Judy was named one of Newsweek’s "100 Media Stars of the Future” and Syracuse’s “Outstanding Young Alumni Award.”

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