Everyone knows that word of mouth is the most persuasive selling asset a product can have. But how many marketers are aware of how word of mouth is generated and sustained? What makes it effective and how can you find out what will work for your product?
Windsor details a research methodology, "anthro-journalism" designed to elicit stories from customers about where they find value in your products. Such research can be used to fuel innovation as well as sales. What is important here is to find common ground with your customers on their own turf. The value of this approach is that often, your customers are more savvy about your products than your marketing staff. Capturing that value from customers, however, is not as easy as sending out a survey.
Storytelling is a powerful and evocative tool for marketers. But like journalists, if marketers want to get the best stories, they'll need to go to the customer. Even a focus group is too artificial an environment and too removed from the lived reality in which your customers use your products. You need to know, not just how your customers behave, but to understand why they behave as they do. To this end, you'll need to get as close to the context in which they use your products as possible.
Beyond the Brand is a fascinating read, with an equally fascinating methodology.
Most marketing books discuss how marketers should relate to their customers. Some use a formal, objective approach to penetrate the wall that separates the service or product provider from the consumer. This book promotes a very different, softer "anthro-journalistic" tactic: learning consumers' desires by hearing their stories and reflecting those wishes in the product's design. This leads to giving the product its own stories to "tell" potential customers, in a mutual social network based on shared meaning. The idea borrows the power of the oral tradition from anthropology and applies it to word-of-mouth product promotion. Author John Winsor stresses listening and storytelling as ways for trained marketers to understand customers and sell to them. Although his treatise dips occasionally into slightly airy New Age sensibilities, Winsor's information on the flaws of focus groups and the importance of heartfelt, meaningful customer feedback tells a story of its own. Of course, applying a cultural anthropologist's perspective to marketing will work better for some businesses than others. We think this book will intrigue and possibly challenge marketers who want to break out of branding buzz and explore new ideas.
Smart and accessible, Beyond the Brand is the definitive text on reaching consumers in today's hyper-competitive and brand-inundated marketplace. Marketing guru and founder of Radar Communications, John Winsor guides the reader through an evolutionary field trip from a time when brands acted as cultural creators (the Volkswagon Beetle) through a time when they attempted to align with cultural epicenters in effort to be seen as credible and authentic. He emphasizes the need in today's world for companies to really listen to consumers - engaging in a journey of learning, rather than a mission to find "right" answers.
Using anecdotes about some of the best consumer brands out there, like Nike, Oakley and Burton Snowboards, Winsor proclaims that the only way to stand out in today's marketplace is for a company to find inspiration and hone its intuition, by finding key voices and truly listening to those voices tell their stories. If I had to choose one book to help me connect with customers, this would be it. Beyond the Brand will become one of those rare, classic points of reference.
As a brand management and marketing consultant, I try to read as many of the newly published marketing books as possible. Most of them rehash old material, are not very useful and are quite uninspiring. Not so with John Winsor's "Beyond the Brand." It is well written and easy to read with many useful examples and case studies. But, more importantly, it focuses on what really matters in developing compelling brands -- authenticity, customer intimacy, standing for something, listening, crafting your story, using your intuition, etc. And his "Bottom Up" strategy model uniquely organizes these concepts in a simple to understand fashion. It is clear that John Winsor knows of what he writes. If you want to gain a fresh perspective on brand building, buy John's book. I highly recommend it.
Some of the ideas in this book are not new, but they are still largely unpracticed. This book is a must-read, and , more importantly a "must-do" if you take your job as a marketer seriously. The concept of "listening" to your customer is taken to a higher level through the concept of finding "key voices". This isn't easy, but is worthwhile- critical even. Read this book; your company and career will both benefit.