Monday, November 05, 2012

Marketing Behavioral Targeting Like Botox

What can on line marketers learn from injections?

Brands based on innovation often result in a good guy, bad guy debate as a result of trying to resolve the contradictions inherent in nature vs. technology.  "Cell phones keep me in contact" vs. "Cell phones cause cancer."

To develop this thinking further, Botox was this subject of a recent article in the Journal of Marketing focused on the evolution of the brand in light of doppelganger, or contrarian, imagery. The lessons learned could apply to not only brands buy whole categories as well, like "behavioral targeting". 

According to the study, four different contradictions emerged thru the first decade of the brand's life.  On the one side was the brand promise; on the other was the opposing view raised by critics. 
  1. Pleasurable Play vs. Poison
  2. Miracle of Medicine vs. Frozen Face
  3. Expression Enabler vs. Frankenstein
  4. Performance  Booster vs. Junkie
The last brand image reported, "Weapon of Liberation", had yet to have a strong counter point. At each stage, the brand evolved its position to combat the negative position.

The author recommends four steps to address such conflicts that can be applied from either side of the fence:
  1. Write a story line that puts the normally ambiguous nature-technology relationship into sharp focus. We need to make the brand indispensable in our lives, not an abstract thing.
  2. Establish authority to validate the position with 'socially sanctified' sources that are difficult to challenge be they facts and figures or authority figures.
  3. Demonstrate the brand value thru a network of sponsors with concrete consumer experiences such as testimonials and credentials.
  4. Spread the word, i.e. advertise, publish, encourage conversations and sharing.
With behavioral targeting, and the broader issue of consumer tracking, it is easy to see the same kind of nature-technology contradiction:   Help me find something vs. Spying.

From a brand perspective, the Botox lessons are clear for the marketing of behavioral targeting.
  1. Take a strong stand: it is good for your well-being, makes life easier, or saves time.
  2. Get someone we already trust to back up the position (saying 'self-regulation' won't cut it, nor will saying it creates jobs.)
  3. Focus on successful consumer use cases (a better ROI for the advertiser isn't the answer).
  4. Find a way to make it sharable and engaging:  "How it helped me...."
 And get ready to inject new life into the evolving saga as the critics take the same advice.

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