Digital Branding at Convergence 2009

It’s a cliche that the internet changes everything, but in the case of digital marketing, the shift from one-way to two-way communication has upended the traditional model and in some cases created new opportunities for forward thinking marketers. The panelists at “Digital Branding: Conversational Marketing or Myth” panel at Cossette West’s Convergence conference held today at the Vancouver Convention Centre explained how their companies have answered the challenge of marketing their products in a wired world.

Marie Emer-Aanes, director of marketing for Nature’s Path, gave a quick tour of how the company site features different stories from customers, as well as featuring not only positive comments but also negative ones in order to foster an atmosphere of transparency. That transparency extends further, and Emmer-Aanes pointed to employees putting together a Flickr page of photos submitted for Earth Day that shows the internal workings of the company in a positive way.

Eric Peterson of LuluLemon explained how his company used Facebook as a platform. In fact, the company had a warehouse ale and found that they were able to control the crowds largely through interaction on Facebook. The platform also provided a way to address negative comments about perceptions of the expense of ther products.

Nathelie Baudion of Mountain Equipment Co-Op pointed to a contest where users uploaded their favorite backcountry video, which then generated more word-of-mouth through Facebook and MEC’s own web site. A big part of the site is direct sales through the web to customers, and social media facilitates that, she said.

Baudion also said that it was very important to be authentic, to not utter any “corporate-speak” or you would end up alienating the very customers you want to reach. Emer-Aanes pointed out that its important not only to highlight your good points but the mistakes you’ve made.