• January 1, 2007
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Marketing, the Internet, and Brilliance

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In keeping with the age-old tradition of a new year bringing a fresh start, I'm presenting a great idea that I recently spotted, which may ignite one for your company.

A feature story in CRM magazine's March 2006 issue ("Thinking Outside the Mail(box)") covered several creative, customer-inspired campaign initiatives, one of which from Kao, the maker of Ban deodorant. On its Web site the company asked consumers, "What would you ban?" A marketing observer might have argued that the campaign was a waste of time and resources, as it wouldn't affect sales. But, it did, attracting roughly 50,000 visitors to the site. One source in the article attributes Ban's roughly 16 percent one-year increase in new product sales to this campaign.

So it should have come as no surprise to me that only a couple of days before writing this column I ran across an ad from P&G, the manufacturer of Secret, a deodorant branded as one for women, promoting its shareyoursecret.com campaign. It's simple, and brilliant -- it creates a personalized branding experience for women by sparking various feelings (excitement, relief, intimacy, et cetera) through reading other women's "secrets" (in large part anecdotal) and anonymously posting their own. What's remarkable is that these emotions and feelings are attached to something very simple -- deodorant.

A quick analysis of why this works reveals several winning elements to the overall formula: It's a clever way of using the Internet as a powerful, cost-effective marketing channel. As I stated, P&G helps visitors so inclined to establish a personal attachment to the brand. And, the campaign borrows from the success of a TV phenomenon by bringing a simple version of reality TV to the Web. Instead of a camera zooming in on a contestant at the most dramatic moment, the site provides a list of titles encapsulating each "secret." Many titles link to a more in-depth personal story.

The Web site has already garnered more than 10,000 posts from visitors since June 27, 2006, including such often-suppressed feelings as dissatisfaction or specific misgivings. Here's a sample: "I'm a CEO, and I hate my job." "I shouldn't still love you, but I do." "Scared 2 talk 2 guys in person." These three examples could easily speak to three generations of women, enabling women from all walks of life to identify with it.

The P&G marketing campaign for Secret is already proving to be a successful one, but I'm looking forward to learning what kind of impact this campaign has had on consumer trust. It's natural for people to lower their defenses and trust others when secrets and weaknesses are revealed. I suspect some of that trust will spill over to the company that delivered the great customer experience. If I'm right, in minutes P&G on its Web site accomplished what takes other companies months or years -- and millions of dollars -- to do.

David Myron
Editorial Director

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