Ordinary people with authentic pain points. A shareable story and a reason to tell it.
This is the scaffolding for a great idea in the digital economy, according to award-winning researcher David Bell.
Speaking at the World of Business Ideas on Digital Transformation event in Sydney on Tuesday, Bell gave a talk on how to win in the digital economy.
A professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Bell gave an in-depth analysis on some of the most successful companies in the digital economy, spanning from Uber to Bailey Nelson sunglasses and discussing the synergies between such companies.
He emphasised the notion of “bonding not branding”, giving the example of Dollar Shave Club, a company that went directly up against shaving giant Gillette with competitive pricing and a model designed to convenience customers.
“Gillette is a great company,” he said. “But no one would know would know who’s running the company or who the CEO is.
“People know who Michael Dubin is,” he said about Dollar Shave Club’s celebrity founder. “It’s bonding not branding.”
And it is authenticity that is key to this idea of bonding, Bell advising that “to develop an authentic and transparent persona is absolutely critical”.
This involves rethinking customers to orators, with stories front of mind.
“Customers are very transactionary – I give you something you give me money,” he explained.
“In the digital economy it’s orators not customers, which means you have to have a shareable story and a reason for the customers to tell it.
“If you’re not leveraging the fact that the people you’ve served as customers can also be serving your company as orators than that’s a massive missed opportunity.
“Content is key.”
In a world where influencers dictate consumer behaviour and social media followers are a commodity, there are plenty of people available to tell a brand’s story.
Selecting the right one is another thing.
“Find people for whom there is positive affect and that their content is shared and widely liked, find the right people,” Bell said.