4 Ways to Leverage the Expertise of the Masses for Your Business
CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT AND BRAND ADVOCACY are things as marketers we at Geppetto spend our time thinking about. So, we thought we’d share with you a trend that started in youth culture but has now leapt over the fence to affect all kinds of brands … and serves as a useful tool for those of us who are looking to find new ways for customer engagement.
How long has it been since famous people who started out being famous for one thing can go on to be famous for almost anything? How is it that we say to ourselves ‘Sure, he started out in a boy band, but why can’t Justin Timberlake be a designer, an actor, and a comedian? Since when did people become open to getting expert advice from just about anyone?
Cultural convergence, where a Major League ball player could totally open a restaurant with great food, or a hip-hop artist would definitely create a perfume that would express my sexy inner self (why not?) — has been around a long while. We used to expect actual expertise from our experts — shocking!
But what may not be so obvious is that Expertise of the Masses is not only a trend but a great opportunity to create brand engagement. It’s a trend that is building momentum and marketers risk ignoring it at their peril.
Now that society is convinced that anybody can be famous for anything, it makes sense that lacking age or experience is no longer a barrier to being an expert. (Except maybe in surgery, I’ll grant you that).
Let’s admit it. What’s on YouTube is often better than anything that’s on TV, including Netflix or OnDemand. What years of training did David Thorne have to have to be the funniest guy in cyberspace? What special schooling was behind Marcel the Shell? How did Tavi, the fifteen-year old blogger become front and center in the world of high fashion?
So it should come as no surprise that there is a whole cadre of young — VERY young — consumers out there who are sought out for their opinions. What may come as a surprise is that their lack of expertise is actually a benefit to your brand.
Consider the trend called Hauling — girls coming home from the mall, and before they even put on what they bought, or put them away in the closet, they are putting a video online! Into the camera, they’re sharing what they’d put with this shirt, what pair of pants goes with what they already own, how to accessorize, then how’d they mix it up and wear it a different way altogether.
After we get over the shock that these engaged customers not only make sense but they actually make business happen, we start to get it. The school hallway is this generation’s runway. Kids aren’t trying to sell us anything; they’re giving us a relatable and accessible perspective. It feels like a tip from the cool kid at school. Who doesn’t still want that?
We’re all looking for access, and we’re all looking for it to be authentic, the real deal.
Putting It To Work
Since we at Geppetto are all about the practical applications to our insights, here are 4 Ways to Leverage the Expertise of the Masses Trend:
- Consumers aren’t looking for the brand’s ‘specs’ from the manufacturer — they’re all looking for context and use. Provide a forum to understand how your brand can be integrated into their lives. Consumers know way better than you do. It will improve the value of your brand by creating a trusting relationship that is far more valuable than traditional expertise. JC Penney lets girls ‘haul’ right on their site — what can you make happen, so that your consumer shares the impact of your brand on their life?
- Tap into your consumers’ creativity to expand their view of what your brand could mean to them. The further they go as your brand advocate, the bigger your brand’s presence.
- Tapping into Expertise of the Masses should be an ongoing, critical part of your brand advocacy strategy. Conversations about your brand are already out there. Shine a light on it and reap the rewards.
- Ask consumers to go beyond what they like, to what’s not working. And, if you’re really brave, let them figure out some solutions, too. Be sure to give them the credit. Then, let all the other experts out there know there’s more exposure, and more reward where that came from.
We’ll be back on a regular basis to share what we think is memorable, thought-provoking, and transferrable to your business. In the meantime, contact us if you’d like to brainstorm integrated marketing tactics we could activate that leverage this trend to build your business.
And feel free to reach out if you’d simply like to hear more, or would like access to the other trends we’re tracking.
Our hope? Let’s start a discussion. We’re good listeners.
Director of Consumer Strategy