Marketing must travel… Social is the engine

In the Madison Avenue past, each piece of ad creative was a missile with two possible results – hit or miss. If it landed dead on the bullseye, maybe people would talk about it. The legendary water cooler effect.

Now the best marketing messages have to do more than land. Because they’re not intent on stopping. They’re engineered not only to strike but then – rethought and repackaged – to enter the cultural slipstream and bounce and split and gather momentum, like Newton’s Fulcrum clacking away on a CMO’s desk.

Target practice has turned into a game of strategic reverberation.

And to reverberate, marketing ultimately has to whirl into motion as digital content. It has to be able to dart away from the initial point of impact, agile and responsive to the blast of tactics and support that seek to concoct a sustainable brand storm.

Why? Because our world moves like never before, and the only way to sync with a moving target is to move with it. Stride for unpredictable stride.

Our lives no longer play out as a series of siloed experiences. From home to work then off with the gang. Grab a bite. Back home again. Turn on the TV, watch a show, maybe call mom, bedtime. Set the clock and start all over again.

We now carry our entire social circle with us in purse or pocket – a circle that links to countless interconnected realms. Now each experience in the job, dinner, friends, tv, mom flow are dropped into a larger current as they happen, with every ping ping ping a wave sent from afar to offer opinions, context and discoveries.

At the same time, we check our phones to scan what others have dropped in the current. What has landed on our shores, awaiting our likes and comments? Each of us a micro-burst of reach sending fresh waves of endorsement to more and more eyes.

Did you see, did you hear, do you know, don’t you think?

A brand message has to fit into this flow; to capture a fresh way of expressing what the user is on the cusp of feeling. It should offer an insight or deliver a laugh or frame an attitude that the user is happy to co-opt and post back into their personal slipstream.

It’s part strategy, part alchemy – a mix of tone and sentiment, time and place, and a dash of serendipity that crystallizes the conversation.

Is it really that mercurial? Aren’t there any big bangs anymore?

Sure. But let’s say you cut the perfect tv spot. It tests through the roof and the media is ready to go. It airs prime time and hits the proverbial bullseye. For thirty seconds. Thirty seconds comes and goes like… that. What’s the plan for your impact to travel beyond the water cooler?

More specifically, how does it extend to an action on your phone? Because that’s where the viewer is reaching. Not to call but to Search. And when your viewer finds the spot’s digital pulse, it should be designed to extend the connection. Reimagined for the platform. With each nugget positioned and pre-packaged to enter the slipstream.

No dead ends.

Because this is where the game really begins. Planning for maximum reverberation before the missile is ever sent.

Unless your campaign is built to move right from the start, medium to medium, platform to platform, bouncing and splitting and gathering momentum in front of fickle audiences moving eagerly across digital, social, mobile… the water cooler is all you’re getting.