Business to Consumer Marketing: Transparency and Sincere Support

The  2014 annual CMO Panel, hosted by the Triangle chapter of the American Marketing Association on March 20th at the Briar Creek Country Club in Raleigh, NC, did generate much discussion on business to consumer marketing. Speakers included Noreen Allen (Twitter: @noreena) of Republic Wireless and John Ross, Senior VP and Chief Sales, Marketing & Communications Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield NC (Twitter: @BCBSNC) spoke on the topic, and It is great to see so much interest in this area. Good business to consumer marketing is characterized by transparency and sincere support of an audience.

Reaching a consumer market, particularly a youth consumer market, is clearly a great challenge. The challenge is also exciting to no end: this is an incredible opportunity to form a mutually beneficial relationship with the target audience. What if I told you that your target audience wants, actually quite urgently, to engage with you?

Consumer-facing companies have the opportunity to empower and inspire our creative, ambitious, informed, and entrepreneurial selves. Give us tools to advance our craft and we will listen to your message; this is sincere support. Give us a platform and we will tell you how we feel; this is transparency.

What platform? Take as an example the Blue Cross Blue Shield NC twitter account. The theme of the account is one that aspires to inform its subscribers and to engage in open conversations with them about the costs involved with the healthcare insurance system. Because inefficiencies of the American health care system are widely known, this is a smart move. They aren’t trying to hide from the debate. Instead, they are positioning themselves as authorities on the topic and facilitating open conversations with their customers via the very conversational social media site, Twitter. This is very inspiring! I want to hear what they have to say. I want to join the conversation and let them know what I think. The internet has brought with it the age of transparency. It really is beautiful.

What tools? Reverting to the most obvious example ever, Red Bull is it. Really the product is crap sugar and wack chemicals, but you better believe if I was at one of their awesome free events I would drink one. That is power. I love your brand so much I will drink that stuff. By throwing awesome events, and by sponsoring and supporting artists and athletes, they make our dreams come true. The great thing about making a dream come true is that then the “sharing” and “publicity” thing is all taken care of. Make a dream come true and earned media value is a given.

Optimally with a consumer marketing campaign, both sides win. When we empower and inspire an audience, they become brand advocates. If using influence only, we don’t even need a huge budget. The relationship is mutually beneficial. It’s up to us as marketing managers to seize the opportunity.

The moderator of the panel was Karl Sakas – @KarlSakas, President, Agency Firebox (@AgencyFirebox)

Additional speakers included Dana McMahan (Twitter: @dhmcmahan), CMO for TOPO Brands (@TOPOdistillery) and Doug Warf (Twitter: @dougwarf), VP of Marketing for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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