FMCG brands: the challenge of not being forgotten

It's tough out there nowadays: overly sell-y TV ads are skipped with glee at +30, websites that offer little in terms of modern consumer engagement lie dormant, covered in virtual dust. So how should brands adapt?

Especially brands that have been great at selling the rational benefits of their products but never really stepped over into the emotional. And certainly haven't considered what their brand could actually mean to their consumer, outside of the straight product or direct sales pitch.

FMCG's (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) are falling into this hole; not all of them, but a big chunk. Social media is amplifying this landslide.

Without addressing the changing media and consumer landscape, many FMCG brands may disappear from the modern digital consumer's conscience. Just like that -- plop -- they will have fallen off the edge of the world. Gone. Their marketing no longer relevant.

So if this is you, how can you fight back?

Here are five tips digital marketers working for FMCG brands could adopt to avoid being forgotten.

1. Produce content that's irreverent

In many respects, you've got nothing to lose, but in truth you've actually everything to gain. A brand that can have fun is a brand that you want to be around. It's just like people -- we like fun people in our lives and brands are no different.

In order for brands to have fun, they need to let go, and the Internet is the ideal place for them to do this.

Example: Tampon brand Hello Flo's 'Camp Gyno'

2. Produce content that's heartfelt and honest

This is the flip side of the irreverence coin, but equally challenging for brands. Can you break out of you comfort zone and do something that genuinely touching? Of course you can. Consumers don't compare brands, they compare content -- and your content is competing with X Factor, Corrie or Downton. So don't be afraid of embracing emotion and all the persuasion that comes with it. The Dove Real Beauty Sketches is a cracking example, but I'd also like to share a relatively new one from Mexican Food Company Chipotle -- a heartwarming story about honest, natural ingredients.

Note: This idea is a 'biggie' and has also been stretched into a mobile and tablet app game, combining interactive entertainment with their heartfelt message.

3. Be useful

Using marketing to create branded consumer utilities or services is pretty trendy right now, but that's for a reason. It's been said that brands addressing the digital question need to be entertaining or useful; I completely agree, and here's where we focus on the latter. Why not help your consumers by doing something useful? It's a bit of a no-brainer. This is a sweet example of an app for families by detergent CIF.

4. Be playful and use innovation to surprise and delight

Again, this is risky, but we live in a world of 'the new' and brands that bring us fresh experiences are the ones we remember; if they're good we also share and cherish them. Take a chance on making something cool like this example from Barclaycard, which combines Twitter with live personalised performances.

And from content, into media...

5. Content is king and so is the consumer -- so you need to be where they are

Whether it's on social networks or on hand held devices, effective marketing is happening in the domain of the consumer and not necessarily on destination websites. This creates real dilemmas for brands. The previous example for CIF challenges a brand to create a utility, but what about social media? Has your product got a strong enough brand platform to allow it to regularly broadcast through social media? And with enough flexibility to create content, competitions, games, toys, useful stuff and, most importantly, conversations?

Here's a great example from my past -- the Facebook page for Rowntrees Randoms that creates fantastic engagement using 'Let your random side out' as a springboard.

Obviously social media is much more complex than churning out content; it's about how it fits into your audience's life and their complete digital landscape.

What's interesting about these tips is that it's all about winning the emotional war. Communications that rely on product attributes alone are very old fashioned. Most people know what an orange cordial is or a kitchen detergent; what they don't know is what your brand stands for and, more importantly, how it connects to them -- in short, why they should care about it.

So, in this brave new digital world where your product orientated sell has virtually disappeared from the consumer conscience, fight back, FMCG's. Use the power of your marketing budgets to create genuine brand content and services that consumers can fall in love with. Build reasons for them to connect to your brand and do it where they are, wherever that may be -- especially if it's outside of your comfort zone. Chances are that'll be the right place to start...

Reimagining the pitching process