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With Hurricane Sandy devastating the Northeast last week, I find myself clicking through photo albums of the destruction, curious to catch a glimpse of what these people are going through. Studying the photos, I can’t help but think of my experience living in Tuscaloosa last year when a massive tornado leveled so much of my beloved town. When I think about the weeks – and months – after the storm, the destruction isn’t the only thing that stands out in my mind. I remember the groups, individuals, and brands that swarmed the city to help those in-need.

Imagine being without electricity – totally disconnected – during a time of destruction. You’re unable to turn on the TV and check the status of your city. Unable to read the news on your laptop. Unable to pick up your cell phone and text your friends and family. That’s where Duracell stepped in, setting up PowerRelief mobile charging stations near areas of destruction. Whether it’s Tuscaloosa, AL or Battery Park, NY, Duracell provides a free place for individuals to charge their electronics, use computers with internet access, and watch live TV news coverage.

After a natural disaster, roads are littered with nails, glass, and sharp wooden shards. Whether it’s your car or an emergency truck making its way down the street, avoiding a flat tire is nearly impossible. BFGoodrich Tires offered assistance, setting up an emergency repair station for individuals and emergency vehicles whose tires were punctured driving through areas of destruction.

During a time of devastation, the Tide Loads of Hope station rolls into town, bringing with it more than 32 energy-efficient washers and dryers. Families drop off their laundry and the Tide crew washes, dries, and folds the clothing for free. Why does Tide do this? “Because, as we’ve learned, sometimes even the littlest things can make a big, big difference.”

For these brands to offer assistance in times of need simply makes sense. These aid stations fit organically with each brand and are undeniably beneficial for the victims whose lives have been directly impacted by the storm. Not only that, but they are infinitely valuable for a brand’s reputation. Whether it’s media coverage of the generosity or the brand’s ability to help a few thousand people – and along with it create new brand Zealots – the benefits are through the roof.

Just look at me. Duracell, Tide, and BFGoodrich stick out so vividly in my memory, I’m telling you about them right now. If that’s not Zealotry in-action, I don’t know what is. Hats off to the brands who are offering their aid during times of need. Do you have stories of other brands who have offered assistance? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Advertisements

Think about it – if one of your friends kept interrupting your conversations with advertising talk, he/she wouldn’t be your friend very long.  That is the reality of social media.   It is the media built by consumers.  They, not programmers, editors or advertisers ultimately control the content of the medium.

Some quick facts:
•    Consumers do want to see companies engaged in social media, but in a dialog format, versus pitches of products
•    Permission marketing is even more critical than email – in social media, readers can respond back to everyone
•    Whether your company chooses to participate or not, your company is likely being talked about by someone in one or more mediums
•    It’s a great way to “road test” concepts, ideas or engage your best customers
•    It’s a great way to put a human face to a company

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Guest Relations Marketing
Transforming Prospects to Guests, and Guests to Zealots

Zealots identify with the vision, the mission, the underlying values of a brand.
They may like the product, but they love the emotion and character behind the product.   Consider a product or company you consider yourself a Zealot of.
Don’t they strike at something that is core to your beliefs or character?

Did I mention I became a Zealot of Ford Motor Company? The American auto manufacturer announced May 6 that they would be producing electric vehicles for their line, beginning in 2011.  On the same day, there was a news article noting that General Motors was “learning” from Chrysler’s bankruptcy actions. I definitely identify with the company busy reinventing itself versus the one looking for government bailout.

Another core value for me.   I believe in energy independence.  An electric car does that.  Electric is a clean fuel, especially if produced in nuclear plants.  The U.S. does not need a pipeline to the Middle East for electricity.  So, for me, Ford Motor Company is solving environmental issues, energy independence, and fueling (pun intended) foreign interests.

Why I will give Ford every benefit of the doubt when the electric vehicle is released.  And, add them to my list of Zealotry brands.

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Guest Relations Marketing
Transforming Prospects to Guests, and Guests to Zealots

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