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Build a Beachhead or Perish: Why everyone apartfrom your Fans is a distractionby GRA HA M B ROWN on FEBRUARY 2, 2012Fans: All Else is mere detailEvery brand has fans, even yoursImage (c) FlickrNokia CEO Stephen Elop went on record last week talking about “Building a Beachhead” for Windowsphones. It’s an interesting change in tact. By referring to “Beachheads“, Elop acknowledged a growingtrend that is quietly revolutionizing marketing, one customer at a time. But, while Nokia mayacknowledge the need for change it has yet to embrace the next challenge which for many mobilebrands may be a bridge too far: success isn’t a strategy but a function of culture – and that culture startswith acknowledging the paramount importance of Fans.What is a Beachhead?A Beachhead is a home for your fans. Our research shows that Fans are key to brand success in mobile.Apple has Beachheads. Blackberry has a global Beachhead (in the Disruptive Divas segment) but is ingrave danger of losing it.Fans aren’t just 2 or 3 times more influential than your average customer but up to 100x moreinfluential. Given that 65% of youth now buy handsets based on what their peers (not what the adagency) says, getting a grip on Fan mechanics is vital to success. http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
The 3 Fan FundamentalsSo building a Beachhead to house their conversation, their Earned Media, requires a deeperunderstanding of the fan fundamentals. I’ve included here mobileYouth’s 3 most important rules forgetting this sector right:1) Everybody has fans2) Your fans aren’t my fans3) Fans don’t love your brand1) Everybody has fansI’ve worked with many brands whose first line of resistance is “but.. we don’t have fans.” In all cases,this (lack of) insight comes from a corporate culture that perpetuates internal self-reference. If you relyon focus groups, market research communities, design and creative agencies for your insights you willnever know (or see) your fans because these agents aren’t the solution but the reason why you’re facinga crisis now.I’ve seen fans of cheese brands, fans of public sector organizations and, yes, for every mobile brand outthere. You have them, it’s just that your system ignores them, drowns them out with the BigIdealoudspeaker from the agency that speaks to everyone and yet nobody.There are fans of the purple HTC Rhyme dubbed the “ladyphone” and slated by industry pundits. As onecommenter remarked:“I happen to love the colour, though I could see adding a few more case colour options for those notquite as in love with the hue of purple. No, it’s not all that powerful and the display is a bit on thesmaller end as smart-phones go, but I’d actually bought it -because- it has a smaller screen…And I’m atech-chick too (computer technician), but I don’t really mind it being less powerful.”There are fans of Motorola who recently petitioned the company to remove handset bootlocks with“Operation Make Ourselves Heard”. If their relationship was a simple case of liking Motorola, theywouldn’t bother – they’d simply move on to another brand but they had invested time and emotion inMotorola so valued the cost in petitioning the brand a good return on their time.Using our SMART index methodology we’ve helped brands identify their fan base. Motorola, forexample, the US has Beachhead potential in the male, 20-21 year old category. Knowing who your fansare is key to brand success. If you don’t know who your fans are you only have customers. http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
2) Your Fans aren’t my FansOnce, a man found Mulla Nasruddin searching for something on the ground outside his house. On beingasked, Nasruddin replied that he was looking for his key. The man also joined in the search and in duecourse asked Mulla:”Where exactly did you drop it?”Mulla answered:”In my house.””Then why are you looking here?” the man asked.”There is more light here than in my house,” replied Mulla.Nokia is making a big mistake in its Beachhead strategy. Nokia wants to win the early adopters andApple fans. Apple fans aren’t Nokia fans. Nokia needs to chase down its own Beachhead. In ourmobileYouth report we identified clear Nokia fan bases that could be converted into Beachheads usingMAP methodologies and there are distinct differences between Apple and Nokia fans. The problem isthat Nokia looks at its customer base and fails to see any brand love among early adopters. Rather thanlook for its fans the brand is trying to build a Beachhead where Apple already has one. It’s a losing gamethat will result in their brand destruction.As one of our students, Reza, at the Youth Marketing Academy puts it, “All my friends would have to buyit before I buy it,” said Reza. “Right now all my friends are using iPhones, and I’m an Android, andthey’re talking on iChat and stuff, and I’m starting to feel left out…. Windows is about being functional; aWindows phone can’t be cool.”Nokia needs to stop trying to be Apple and start being itself. We’ve identified key traits in Nokia thatshould provide a starting point for building on its authenticity (e.g. durability – google “indestructibleNokia 3300” to see what we mean). Nokia fans are out there. Nokia fans aren’t vocal like Apple fans butthey exist and brands just need to employ the right methodologies (like MAP) to find them.You’ve spent your whole marketing career trying to get people to like you when all along you’ve ignoredthe inconvenient truth of the people who already loved you.3) Fans don’t love your brandThe big hangover from the party that was the “Big Idea” is that, somehow, young people wake upthinking about your brand. Well, time to smell the coffee – young people don’t do that anymore. Fansdon’t love any brand – they love what the brand does for them. Concepts like “brand management” or“brand equity” in the modern youth attention economy are simply meaningless. http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
Koushik Dutta is a revered programmer within Android circles. He’s also a fan of Playstation products.Sony put 2 and 2 together, reaching out to Dutta in the hope of luring him to work for them on a seriesof exciting product lines.Dutta refused, turning down a plum job, because of Sony’s history; Sony famously prosecuted hackerGeorge Holtz (GeoHot) for his PSP3 mods and Dutta felt that although he was fond of their products –he hated the company.When Indonesian mobile brand Nexian tried to promote a fan base using Facebook to share images andpictures of the Nexian girls, the feed was hijacked by fans using it to share messenger PIN numbers.When RIM tried to communicate with customers through its Facebook wall soliciting thoughts aboutwhat they’d like to see in future product lines, the people who they were trying to engage simply usedthe opportunity to, once again, trade pins.People don’t buy stuff; they buy what stuff does for them. Reality check – fans couldn’t give a hootabout your brand. Once you stop making useful tools or “stuff for them”, they’re off.SummaryWhich brings us to how Nokia can actually build a Beachhead rather than talk about one. The biggestchallenge here today facing all mobile companies is cultural; your biggest competitor isn’t the otherhandset manufacturer or mobile operator but your own organization, your own network and yourcreative partners.You see, asking questions like “how do we engage fans/customers?” are the wrong questions to ask.These are the questions your creative agencies are asking right now:“How do we engage fans on Facebook/twitter/you-name-it.” and these questions will propel your brandto do more of the same, just with a more expensive social media hat on.The question we need to be asking is:“How do we break down the walls that prevent fans from engaging us?”The 3 Walls That Prevent Your FansThe walls in this question are manyfold. Too numerous to provide an exhaustive list here but here’s aquick takeaway list of the 3 walls that prevent your brand from building a Beachhead.1) Your Creative Agency. 95% of brands would be better off without a creative agency. Most creativeagencies only know “Big Idea” marketing whether on Facebook or TV. This Loudspeaker approach scaresaway fans, drowns out their voice and creates walls of separation between the business and the market. http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
A creative agency once challenged our 90-10 rule (in the mobileYouth report) by saying that there is “noway an agency could justify focusing on 10% of the market.” If that’s the case, fire the agency. Theproblem here is mental not strategic. 10% of the market love you, the 90% aren’t listening – so why usea budget allocated to the 100% when 9/10ths of that budget is simply wasted? Focus on the 10% andwork with them to influence the 90% – that’s how it happens in the real world (not in theadvertising industry unfortunately.)If your creative agency doesn’t get Beachheads or the 90-10 rule without the Big Idea, fire them. If youcan’t find one that does (chances are slim) don’t fear – many great brands (such as Monster Energy)have grown billion dollar organizations without creative agencies. Apple can’t exist without a creativeagency (yet) but it has significantly scaled back its external creative spend and invested in EMI-drivenfrontline activities like retail.2) Your Research. Chances are you’re using Focus Groups. If you’re not using FGs, you might be usingtheir 2.0 equivalent “Market Research Communities”. Either way you’re wasting your money. Theywon’t tell you anything about who your Fans really are. Like Nasruddin and the key, the only way you’llfind that answer is by looking where the light isn’t shining – in the dark and that means Immersion.3) Your People. The hardest element. If your organization believes nothing needs changing there is nohope. There is always change. Yet, recognizing need for change is only half the story. Nokia, for example,wants to build a Beachhead but will still employ the same methodologies (such as Market ResearchCommunities and Brand Storytelling) that lost its marketshare in the first place. Great products havelittle to do with success and failure in the youth market today – it’s the culture of the organization thatcreates the products and how that culture allows Fans to tell their own story.Contact us for report, workshops, webinars and more:Josh DhaliwalDirector, mobileYouthJosh.dhaliwal@mobileYouth.orghttp://www.mobileYouth.orghttp://www.mobileYouthReport.comTel: +44 203 286 3635Mob: +44 7904 200 513 http://www.mobileYouth.org/report