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Slow Medicine for Brands in the Social Era

By Published on .

Credit: iStock/stevanovicigor
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Digital media has made our lives better. We feel more inspired and connected thanks to tools like the freedom-bestowing cell phone, which brings us closer to family, friends and the values and passions that define us.

The drawback is that we're constantly looking at our gadgets and losing perspective. But a correction is afoot. In a recent Doneger Survey of 250 consumers between the ages of 18 and 44, 60% felt that there is too much "stuff" out there. Brands should acknowledge that their "always on" social marketing approach can be part of this problem, and should focus instead on finding more meaningful, less frantic ways of connecting with a "time-poor" consumer.

Decelerate is the new innovate

Brands should begin their post-social media reset by paying attention to a powerful and growing consumer shift that favors simple, yet meaningful, physical experiences. This shift is giving new life to various industries and brands. Music has bounced back thanks to festivals and tours; publishing has been rebooted by the sales resurgence of physical books. Even fashion, an industry with a complicated relationship with time (think fast fashion) is beginning to embrace a slower pace, with a greater focus on craftsmanship, provenance and personalization.

The following are some ways in which brands can slow down, grow and amplify.

Time-off as strategic imperative

An inspired and balanced workforce will yield more innovative and creative solutions. Brand experience leaders like Ikea and Google are giving their employees more time off for important life events, and to explore what matters most to them, recharging and inspiring them to be brand advocates. Expect more of this as competition heats up for talent.

Cultivate a long-term movement

Brands need to envision their full stories and harness their founding vision to build a purpose-driven strategy. Envision what your movement stands for and how your product offering protects and delivers this. Allow more time in your creative and business processes to collaborate with partners who bring a new perspective and can help amplify your brand story and engagement.

Create desire

Consumers don't like brands that try too hard. Take a lesson from Apple's reclusive playbook and evoke a bit of mystery around your product and brand. Think of obsessively nurturing brand-right elements coveted by your consumer -- such as design and engineering -- and turn them into a conversational art form that includes smart reveals, iterative upgrades, unexpected collaborations and other ways to surprise and delight.

Salute artisans

The slow movement will prize quality products done with purpose and craftsmanship. Find ways of incorporating craftsmanship into all aspects of your business: design, delivery, experience and marketing.

In praise of long formats

Inspiring brands have powerful stories to tell. Tap into the increasing popularity of long-form and niche content formats to reinforce your brand's expertise and life perspective. A good example is eBay's "Open for Business" podcast series.

Rethink promotional strategies

Explore ways to imbue greater meaning into the purchase. Consider how Tom's and Warby Parker have successfully brought together style and philanthropy. Also look at how new experience tools, such as augmented reality (think Pokémon Go), can make the discovery and shopping journey more engaging.

When in doubt, simplify

Simplify the entire shopper journey for your customer, giving them more time to do things they enjoy. Invest in utility functions that deliver this but don't get stuck in telling a tech story. Focus also on simpler yet more emotive marketing strategies. Edit the number of communication channels you use, and stick to those that provide the biggest brand engagement.

A more human take on marketing KPIs

Our current data-driven, iterative marketing approach has generated great targeting opportunities and cost efficiencies. As we move towards a slower, more experience-driven moment, we need to make sure we're also incorporating softer, yet pivotal, metrics, including lifetime consumer value, wider-frame brand equity studies, employee retention, brand advocacy, and so on.

Focus on relationships

Leverage new personalization technologies to deliver a warmer, more relevant experience to your customers. Nurture the next generation of customer service that listens and delivers the type of welcoming, informed expertise consumers want to make time for.

And most importantly, as brand steward, take time to see the world. Get to know your consumer better and learn new things. Take the time to nurture and amplify your brand's inner voice. If you do, time will be on your side -- and that's a great starting point to build a powerful, timeless brand.

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