If Content is King then your customer is wearing the Crown!

The variety and volume of content that has inescapably entered into our lives is significantly changing the way that corporations view and ultimately interact with their customers. Consumer-generated-content has provided a window into the hearts and minds of the customer and entry into their unique interpretation of what the brand experience means to them.

Many marketing professionals have started to execute programs that leverage their consumer audience from a content perspective for a number of reasons. The customer brand experience and emotional attachment generated from these types of programs is truly a powerful one. And the free content from these loyal supporters ultimately fuel their next wave of marketing activities.

So I suppose that makes you and I, the marketing professionals, the Royal Subjects!

“What is driving this trend”, you might ask? Well, this avalanche of consumer-generated-content would simply not be possible without the manufacturing of content creating tools and the development of more and more powerful video, picture, and sound innovations.

As well, the variety of new channels and mediums that are accessible to the consumer provide unlimited opportunity for creativity. Consumers are now provided with the software, online distribution channels and all the necessary tools to develop creative materials.

Consumers also appear to be more than willing to provide personalized content in an exchange that gives them the power to directly influence the design and marketing of the final product.

How are advertisers taking advantage of this content phenomenon and how has it changed the way consumers ultimately experience a brand?

The Warren Miller ‘Design-Win-Ride to Higher Ground’ contest invited contest participants to submit artwork inspired by the Higher Ground film trailer in order to win prizes. This interactive contest site allowed the participants to take full control of their boarding experience, and virtually step right into the Warren Miller film on a board designed by them. Grand prize winner includes a Revolution MFG snowboard made with graphics designed by the winner and a trip to Heavenly Resort.

Other recent examples include brands like Jones Soda, Cadillac and Bridgestone/ firestone. Jones Soda is an example of a company that encourages its customers to create ‘custom soda labels’ with their label gallery now containing an amazing 285,285 pictures with some chosen as permanent, wide-distribution labels for Jones soda.

Cadillac recently launched a promotional campaign for the V-Series, whereby they encouraged participants to submit 5 second video clips with a chance to win prizes. The 5 second clip was then used in a Cadillac TV advertising campaign.

Bridgestone/Firestone launched an annual photo contest that encouraged photography students across Canada to showcase tires in unusual situations. Bridgestone has discovered applicable marketing applications at last year’s Formula One race in Montreal, were winning photos were on display as part of a race-week street fair and used in an ad to promote the Tennessee Performing Arts Centre.

Is it possible that direct consumer input has now becomes an integral part of almost every creative and developmental process that is executed by a corporation? To look even further down the road, we will in fact see corporations working in close cooperation with consumers and interacting with their loyal brand stewards when they are even in the developmental stage of creating the goods, services and experiences.

As marketers, it is time to recognize that we have entered ‘reality communications’ where the consumer is not only telling us what the brand truly means to them, but driving the brand development process. And ruling the Content Kingdom…