Your brand is a learning space

This is a guest post from Mitch Joel — President, Mirum and author of “Six Pixels of Separation” and “CTRL ALT Delete.” See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

How much more content does the world really need?

Laugh at that line as much as you want, but when I published my first business book, Six Pixels of Separation, back in 2009, I wrote about this newly-formed idea that “content is media” (a concept that I was blogging and speaking about long before the first book was even published).

Sure, the world had advertorial content back then, but it was nothing like the media landscape of today. Ads continue to take a back seat in these digital channels, to brands that are creating pieces of content which are augmented with a paid media strategy. We’re seeing it everywhere.

Still, most of the media being created looks, feels and acts like an ad.

The world has changed, but brands have remained (mostly) stagnant. A brand is not something that sits outside of innovation, culture, traditions and creativity (all of of things that turn us from individuals into communities). Brands are now an important part of our communities and ecosystems.

So, if brands are struggling with their advertising to drive business, and have turned to content, digital platforms, social media and mobile to better connect with an ever-evolving consumer, why do we have the expectation that traditional advertising on new media platforms will deliver the efficacy needed for businesses to evolve in the future?

There’s an opportunity here.

If brands can tell a new brand narrative (which, they can), we have a moment of innovation that’s happening in a day and age when consumers are becoming increasingly more informed, intelligent, curious and concerned about not only what they are buying… but who they are buying it from.

We see this in places like Etsy… and we see this as consumers continue to flock to locally-sourced businesses. While this may not be pushing itself out to the masses just yet, or those who spend their time at big box retailers, it’s becoming a reality.

Thank technology. Use technology.

Technology is where we are seeing the modernization of brands, the shopping experience and how consumers want to connect and understand the entire supply chain. How do consumers make choices? It’s a huge factor as well. So, if they’re not getting the learning from the brand, they start to stray. They stray to their social graph, they stray to other entities, and they might even stray to another brand.

Your brand is a learning space.

Not all marketing can or should be direct response. For most consumers, education and information is paramount. A learning space doesn’t just happen is physical spaces, it happens in digital ones as well.

By amping up in the opportunities for your consumer to understand, dive deeper and connect to the product or service, brands can create and promote a much healthier relationship between them and their customers. It seems so basic, but it’s a massive marketing initiative that few brands have truly spent enough time working on.

A learning space is not a campaign.

A learning space is a platform. At the retail level, on a mobile application, on Facebook or on YouTube. It’s not for all consumers. Some customers simply want the best price delivered in the most efficient way. For many others, they want to know the details. Not just from the brand, but from consumer reviews. Even if they can’t buy something online, they want to know the price, and where it is available.

Leveraging a website as a simple repository for this information is not the answer, either. This brand learning space is porous, organic, and flowing through they many channels that consumers find themselves living in. A brand that acts like a learning space — in everything that they do — is investing in their consumer’s well-being. It’s a platform that is ever-growing, ever-valuable and ever-evolving into the channels that best suit the target market. It’s not a destination… it’s a brand ethos… a brand imperative.

The best brands will be the brands that are a learning space as well.


About Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He is also a blogger, podcaster, journalist, speaker, and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" and "CTRL ALT Delete." Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Marketing Magazine, Profit, Strategy, Money, The Globe & Mail, and many other media outlets.

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