June 28, 2011
Working in the public relations and marketing world during the past three years has given me a back stage pass to participate in the planning, strategy and execution behind marketing and branding campaigns of large and small companies.
Although I may sometimes demographically fit into the target market, my job consists of participating in the two-way conversation as a communicator, not a consumer. Or, so I naively thought.
A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting front and center in the global consumer audience all because of my daily read, Cupcakes and Cashmere, a fashion blog by the talented Emily Schuman.
I stumbled upon Emily’s post, Fields of Blue, and she was wearing a stunning blue sheer skirt. Instantly the wheels started turning, “I love that. Would that look good on me? Could I pull off a long skirt; a blue skirt at that?”
After visiting American Apparel four times to muse over the skirt, I finally mustered up the courage, took the leap, and bought the full-length chiffon skirt in Tahiti. In fact, I wore it to Fast Horse on Wednesday and I love the skirt even more after wearing it. A perfect transition from a hot summer day to cool air conditioning, it’s incredibly comfortable, dressy and brings an awesome pop of color to my wardrobe, which mainly consists of neutrals. I couldn’t be more thrilled with my purchase.
But excitement over my outfit eventually gave way to simmering thoughts about the power of marketing and advertising, especially as it relates to my role in the game.
First, I’m fiercely loyal to my favorite brands, although when it comes to fashion and beauty products, admittedly, I’m sometimes influenced by the posts in my favorite blogs. Did Emily expect that posting a photo of her wearing the beautiful American Apparel skirt would cause someone in Minnesota to rush out and buy the last of the color? I would guess probably not but, as a fervent Cupcakes and Cashmere reader, Emily’s opinion feels more like a rave from a friend instead of a call to action—with the end result being much like the effect of a spectacular ad.
Many can agree that blogs and blogger testimonials are important to clients, business and brands. The same as, I would assume, bloggers agree that well-researched and appropriate mailings, samples and offerings are valuable to creating fresh daily content. However, I discovered that although the Fields of Blue post was a stand in for an American Apparel advertisement, my purchase only cemented my loyalty to Cupcakes and Cashmere(Emily), not to the clothing company. While positive testimonials may boost product sales, the one who stands to gain or lose definitive consumer loyalty is the blogger.
Second, I’m not solely a communicator. My opinions, loyalties and viewpoints will continue to be shaped by the information that I receive from other gatekeepers. It was a foolish mistake to view the consumer as being a lowly generic individual who could easily be persuaded. It just isn’t the case. In the end, I’m both a communicator and a consumer. I have the unique opportunity to participate in both sides of the conversation, which, in regard to what I bring to the table, could be the most valuable realization for current and future clients.
Below are some photos from my impromptu fashion photo shoot on the streets of Minneapolis with renowned photographer, Cydney Wuerffel.