Marketing with Meaning: The Future of Digital Depends on Adding Value to Customers’ Lives

Ad real value with your marketing was the theme of this session by Bob Gilbreath, CMO at Bridge Worldwide. This presentation was full of smart stuff – I’ve done my best to capture and share it with you below. This is only the tip of the iceberg – Bob has a book coming out called Meanit!, which based on the presentation is sure to be worth a read. You can also follow him on twitter @mktgwithmeaning

People are inundated with ads and have a lesser propensity to tolerate them than before.

Internet TV

Watching DVD series


Madden 08 is going up (gaming) and watching live TV sports is going down

Technology is giving consumers control to skip ads:


BitTorrents/Illegal Downloads

FireFox Ad:blocker

Popup Blockers

Banner Blindness

“Going digital” is not the answer

Myspace, facebook – are not profitable

No good business models

Government is cracking down on targeting tools

In general, CEOs are often dissatisfied with their marketing; the average tenure of a CMO is only 2 years, and the average tenure of an ad agency is 4 years.

New Concept

Bob presented a new model for marketing, especially for digital where marketers can connect with and interact with consumers on a much deeper level. Marketing with meaning is about marketing that people choose to engage with; marketing that improves peoples’ lives. Yup that’s right. The marketing improves their lives, not just the product. This is a fairly consistent theme from the non-conference; I think that Bob did the best job of really building a framework around what this actually means.

The new model is based on Maslows Heirarchy of needs – move up from needs to self-actualization in the hierarchy of meaningful marketing.

Base – Solution

Information, relevant, help save $$ or time, give rewards

Samsung proves charger stations at airports – offers a service with branding.

Middle – Connection

Entertaining, social


o Insight: about 60% of people eat lunch at their desks

o Healthy Choice created an online TV show that is a mix of the office and whose line is it anyways. You can see the characters in a live show where the audience decides what happens next (for Healthy Choice).

o I watched it – it was funny but also extremely annoying at the same time. Being able to vote made it more entertaining.

Customization and engagement – customize Pringles, Jones soda labels, M&Ms

Top – Achievement

Actual value-ad achievement where people feel good about themselves

Kraft cooking school – actual solution where people feel good about themselves for learning how to cook.

Healthy Choice – Opportunity to actually make healthy life – meal planner, questionnaire that assesses and rates your health choices across a # of areas. Helps people make changes to improve their lives.

Expectations are Rising Across Brands

Consumers are demanding more from their brands, and the demands are coming from other industries.

Example – The Pizza Tracker. People expect to have their packages tracked (from UPS or FedEx). Now they want their Pizza tracked – Dominos pizza launched a Pizza tracker (hysterical). It worked because:

o People are addicted to information.

o Dominos saw savings in fewer phone calls regarding the status of orders.

o Hit their millionth user in 2 months with no advertising.

Example – Updates. On social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace users get updates to their mobile phones. Now airlines are giving updates to mobile phones.

o Builds positive equity as customers are notified immediately of changes.

Find out who is setting the bar in a space. It is not good enough to be best in class within industry. Look outside the industry for best-in-class examples to build off of.

What do YOU think?

Is this new model of engaging consumers on a more meaningful level the way of the future? How can brands better meet rising demands of consumers? Do you have any examples of brands who are doing this well?

Krista Neher


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