As a marketing consultant, I can’t help reading the stories of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Boston, etc. without thinking how I would advise them if they asked. And let me be clear, they haven’t asked. But if they did—making no assessment of their general premise—here’s what I would say their efforts to date should remind us about marketing: the art (and science) of scalable persuasion:
1. Establish a Single Objective – In the marketing war room, we rally around the CTB statement: Convince—That—Because. Every successful campaign should begin with one clear and concise CTB statement – essentially a mission statement for the campaign, establishing the Who, What, Why. For example: The Acme Brand fall ad campaign should convince seniors that they should buy Acme products because they are the best products for seniors this time of year.
Occupy Wall Street would likely reach their objective faster if they had a clear, single CTB; seemingly, they have many: convince companies to reduce corporate greed, convince government they deserve jobs and a political voice, convince schools to forgive loans, etc. When marketing campaigns flounder, the issue can typically be traced back to a weak, inconsistent or incomplete CTB statement that misguided the development of the campaign.
2. Present a Clear “Call to Action” – We marketers love acronyms. So after CTBs, in which you establish the campaign objective, you have CTAs, in which you express the action you seek. Marketing revolves around the desire to change or reinforce consumer behavior – buy our product, stay with our service, refer your friends, try our new flavor. We refer to this behavior change instruction as a “call to action” – what it is you’d like the customer to do.
From what I have seen in the news, Occupy Wall Street could benefit from refining their CTA. What is the explicit behavior change they seek? Is their audience aware of this explicit request? There has been confusion amongst politicians, executives and citizens in general around the nature of their request for change. While they have the attention they desire, crafting this request will likely determine their ultimate impact.
3. When Everything is Said, Nothing is Heard – Enthusiastic marketers rarely resist the temptation to overload communications with messages, imagery, offers, etc. As studies have shown, humans only have the capacity to engage with any medium for so long, before over-stimulation sets in and attention is lost. The best CMOs set a vision and value proposition for their brand, and all elements of the organization act accordingly. Communications with the most basic, memorable and compelling content generate the greatest results – think Apple or Nike.
The Occupy Wall Street movement continues to evolve. A core group of activists was soon joined by students, unions, nurses, and more. While the movement has certainly inspired mass involvement, with every new addition comes a new angle that threatens to dilute the ultimate message they desire to send. Without a strong organization hierarchy and communication plan in place, there is a chance the message will continue to sprout in different directions and fail to achieve the ends originally desired.
4. Know What “Success” Looks Like – How can a marketing campaign be said to have succeeded (or failed) if the definition of “success” was never established? The fact is, it can’t. I can’t tell you how many campaigns I have witnessed that lack an upfront conversation around the ultimate objective, and how success will be measured. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will obviously vary by organization: incremental sales, incremental visits, customers acquired, customers retained, etc. These metrics should be established early and assessed often.
To further rally their members around a sense of purpose and progress, Occupy Wall Street will need to consider the end game they seek. As most analysts suggest, their definition of success at present seems vague. Just as we like to say, “only that which can be measured can be improved,” only that which is defined will be measured. Knowing what “mission accomplished” looks like means knowing when it’s time to pack up the tent and head home.