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To get close to customers, brands need to get real

February 20, 2012

It’s one thing for your brand to be socially connected- but just about any brand can play the game by adding Facebook and Twitter accounts, but just owning those accounts is not an act of true transparency, or even proof positive that you really want a connection with your audience.

If you want to really connect with your audience, don’t you need to do something more, something that’s more real and face-to-face?

Take a look at this example from The Guardian, who is quite literally opening themselves up to the readers with a two-day live event, which will be held this year at the end of March.

This event is a chance for readers to interact with the newspaper’s journalists and to debate to discuss issues and topics in hundreds of programmed sessions.

Here’s how The Guardian describes the event.

“More than any other newspaper we can think of the Guardian is open. It has led the way in opening up to its readers – and in welcoming and amplifying other voices. Now we’re opening our doors – hosting a weekend at the end of March for a festival of ideas, innovation and entertainment. Guest speakers from around the world will join our own writers, editors, digital developers and photographers to participate in over 200 programmed sessions on everything from the American presidential elections to the Arab spring.”

More importantly, this isn’t taking place in some sanitized off-site location, where everything can be tightly controlled, it’s taking place in their offices and in the immediate surrounding area. It’s a chance for readers to get up close and personal to the brand itself and to see where it gets “made”.

Here’s what your ticket will allow you to access.

“Your festival ticket gives you unprecedented access to the offices, where you will be able to join sessions in the morning conference room and workshops. While you won’t be able to rummage through the editor’s desk, you will get a sense of the day-to-day working of the building, sample some delicious, sustainably sourced food in the staff canteen, and blog at our Comment is Free pod.”

If you are fan of The Guardian, or just news in general, this is an amazing opportunity to discuss and debate issues and topics with the journalists who’s work you read everyday.

Social media is certainly a great opportunity to get much closer to your customers and done right it can be an amazing tool that allows you to better communicate with them and anticipate and understand their needs.

However, if you really want to get close to your customer, perhaps you need to take a leaf out of The Guardian’s book and open your facilities and people up directly to your customers with a real live event. It seems like this could be a really rewarding exercise in getting to know each other and build real connections, rather than just relying on virtual ones and some focus groups.








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