Tuesday, July 10, 2007


What is Citizen Marketing?

Citizen marketing refers to the processes that lead people to generate their own content and advocacy for and about companies/brands.

Citizen marketing can be considered as a type of word-of-mouth marketing (viral marketing). However, in citizen marketing it is just not about passing the talk around, which is true viral marketing; in citizen marketing there is actual creation of marketing communication content by independent customer fans or evangelists.

The torchbearers of the Citizen Marketing concept

The concept of Citizen Marketing was identified and popularized by two very intelligent marketing personas - Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. Their book on the CITIZEN MARKETING concept is a runaway global success.

In their provocative new book, Citizen Marketers, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba explore the ramifications of today's burgeoning social media. As everyday people increasingly create content on behalf of companies, brands, or products—to which they have no official connection—they are turning traditional notions of media upside down. Collaborating with others just like themselves, they are forming ever-growing communities of enthusiasts and evangelists using videos, photos, songs, and animations, as well as the "user-generated media" of blogs, online bulletin boards, and podcasts. From the rough to the sophisticated, their creations are influencing companies' customer relationships, product design, and marketing campaigns—whether the companies participate willingly or not.

Example of a classic citizen marketing case:

George Masters is one of these fans. He loves his iPod. One day he was listening to the song "Tiny Machine" by the Darling Buds and suddenly, so he says, "visual imagery started flowing to me." In his spare time he produced an animation of iPods dancing to the song. He uploaded it to his blog, and a few weeks later it was making headlines, with tens of thousands of views and downloads.

The Alli brand t-shirt campaign for creating citizen marketers

One can use the Citizen Marketing concepts for a new launch like Alli- a new anti-obesity OTC drug launched by Glaxo. For eg. one can run a T-shirt campaign for a Alli. Netizens can be invited and encouraged to design a T-shirt online using the company logo, brand names, taglines, and create messages like FAT IS NO FUN. BUT I HAVE AN ALLI WITH ME!, these elements can then be printed on to the T-shirt. The company can then ship the T-shirt across to the designer free of cost while putting it up for sale via the net at cost price for other interested netizens.

Medical fraternity centric and user-generated vlogs and podcasts

Citizen marketing is a force that can now be harnessed in favor by a marketer. For eg. Converse is a 96 year old sneaker firm invited customers to post short films. The best 13 were given awards and the films featured on Mtv. A Converse gallery was created. The sales too have shot up thanks to the word-of-mouth factor and thanks to the entire buzz.

Alli can use vlogs and podcasts to create a buzz. Doctors and para-medical staff and other opinion builder users can be encouraged to essay their brand experiences on voice or video. The content can be posted as vlogs and podcasts. This gives hope to vlog viewers and podcast listeners. After all, marketers deliver value and solutions that are viewed as hope by potential and actual customers.

One more drug that can benefit from Citizen Marketing drives is bupropion – the antismoking drug. In this case, citizen marketing efforts can be harnessed for creating consciousness about the dangers of smoking and encouraging smokers to seek the doctor’s advice on bupropion for effectively quitting the nicotine habit.

For antismoking campaigns, one can encourage posting of candid photos & e-posters on a bupropion sponsored site. Interested individuals can also be encouraged to host short films and generally create a multimedia buzz to discourage smoking while encouraging the smoking community to ask the doctor about bupropion.

BMI is passé let us also talk waist circumference measurement

Today obesity, metabolic syndrome and Type II diabetes are burning health issues worldwide. This is thanks to a culture of consumption and comforts prevalent in a sedentary lifestyle. Naturally one of the most vital approaches to combating the obesity epidemic is bringing about lifestyle changes. This can’t be done by preaching and legislation alone. What is required is a peoples’ movement for this. And to catalyze a peoples’ movement for a healthier lifestyle, one can harness the concepts of CITIZEN MARKETING.

A simple and elegant approach for a Citizen Marketing crusade against obesity is creating consciousness about the waist-circumference.

As per research reports, Asian women with a waist circumference of more than 31 inches and Asian men with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches, are at an increased risk for developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases like gall bladder disease. In the case of non-Asian women, the danger zone of waist circumference is more than 35 inches and for non-Asian men the danger zone of waist circumference is more than 40 inches.

Reach out to citizen marketers via the internet and the traditional media

In Pharma marketing, there are two main media used: HUMAN MEDIA (represented by MRs who carry messages to prospects and doctors) and PRINT MEDIA (advertisements in mags and journals, literatures, pils, flyers and other print products through database mailer marketing and MRs). However, ELECTRONIC AND DIGITAL MEDIA are the new revolutionary trends to reach out to prospects and doctors.

It is really about creating the word-of-mouth buzz and co-creation of messages regarding brands. A simple strategy is to reach out to obese and susceptible people via a mail-a-free-postcard campaign on obesity and on susceptibility to obesity, to one’s near and dear ones.

This new trend of user-generated marketing messages can be described as open-source marketing. When marketing companies and agencies encourage co-created campaigns, they will generate good conversational currency.

One can extrapolate the Alli T-shirt campaign to other memorablia like books, bookmarks, bumper stickers, greeting cards, coffee mugs…

The above approaches will help align the forces of citizen marketing and a company’s official viral marketing efforts to energize the brand ALLI and create a buzz. Citizen marketing is an extension of customer evangelism. Citizen marketing is enabled by technology. Thus, the Citizen media is here to stay thanks to the web 2.0 technologies. In days to come with the broadband and other convergence technologies increasing their penetration and as adoption rates spiral upwards, citizen marketing will no doubt get a fillip.

Hence, when certain trends in society get established, it is wiser to align with the market forces and exploit the same for a brand’s benefit. Citizen marketing is all about empowerment of people through web-technology. Citizen marketing is also ‘marketing democracy’ in action.

And by the way, a classic example of a citizen Pharma marketing effort for Alli is this blogpost is itself.


All is not well with ALLI! Connect with this site: http://alliconnect.wordpress.com/

This is my 36th post, and I recommend my esteemed readers to read all the other 35 posts too as they are very interesting. sunilchiplunkar@gmail.com Mob.:9980800023. Posted from my sister's house at 8.00 PM IST on 10.7.2007.

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