what does zero media budget look like? what if the ambition of every brand was a media investment of nothing?
it's a question posed by Jeff Jarvis (pictured) towards the start of his marvelous What Would Google Do? - a reverse-engineering of the brand upon which the fastest growing company in the world is built. he observes that:
"For more than a century, the public face of companies has been their advertising, slogans, brands and logos. How much better it would be if a company's public face were that of its public, its satisfied customers who are willing to share their satisfaction, and its employees who have direct relationships with customers. Brands are people.
If that's the ideal, then here's the goal: Eliminate advertising ... every time a customer recommends you and your product to a friend is a time when you don't have to market to that friend. It is possible today to think that one good word can spread as far as an ad would."
it may be a deeply unreachable goal for many brands and businesses; whose products are less differentiated and in which interest in lower and usage less frequent. but some interesting and important measurement principles emerge from the thought experiment...
- how do you currently measure - and benchmark - not just customer engagement, but customer ownership of your brand?
- how are you measuring the conversations - in the myriad of forms - that those customers are engaged in about your brand's products and services?
- how are you benchmarking the value of those conversations against not just each other but against other marketing communications outputs? how many TVRs maketh the influential (and not so influential) blog post or status update?
- if, as Jarvis asserts (and I agree), "your customers have always owned your brand"; how do you measure, value, and encourage responsible ownership of the biggest intangible asset on which your business depends?
- and above all - if you're not asking these questions? who is?