In his 2009 book, "The Nature of Marketing: Marketing to the Swarm as well as the Herd," Chuck Brymer writes a chapter about a blueprint for a consumer-driven society. President and CEO of DDB Worldwide, he mentions Walt Disney World's Epcot Center and how it was originally designed to be a real community with real people. While Epcot-as-real-community didn't pan out, another type of community has in the last few years: "We now live in a digitally linked community where we share more of our lives, our emotions, and our preferences than ever before."
Meanwhile, Brymer believes that we also are moving closer to our roots in nature, as a mass of people with collective intelligence—and marketers are setting the stage for how we will influence societies for generations to come.
Here's a few tips that will help make marketing to the digital community a reality ... and which can boost people's relationships with the brands they use.
1. It starts with branding.
To attract a community, you must have a strong brand. That means you must develop and promote a brand identity surrounding your products, your services and your organization itself. Whether you have a big brand or a niche brand, Brymer writes, you can own that territory if your marketing makes your brand a natural choice within that space.
2. Live your brand message.
Even the best marketing campaigns can be derailed by unhappy employees or customers, or poor quality and bad policies. Likewise, happy people can make for great campaigns. In the age of social media, the "turned on" customers can do your brand wonders.
"People make their most cherished brands part of their identity and part of their lifestyle. When you become one with them, they will forgive your mistakes and celebrate your successes," writes Brymer. Thus, when a customer goes rogue on your brand, the community will come to its defense.
3. Truly listen to your customer community.
Brymer believes that this will become more important over time. While nearly all companies will declare they value input from their customers, few actually embrace co-creation—inviting customers into the creative process. "But in my view, it is one of the central points behind effective swarm marketing. Creating a brand community can no longer be something that is bolted on after the fact by a marketing department," he writes.