Michelin's famously anonymous intrigue misses a trick or two!

19.09.09 10:43 PM By S.Swaminathan

Michelin has come-up with lovely idea to connect with their customers - famouslyanonymous.com. This is a great case for open-source marketing! This is perhaps how marketing will be done in the future for many brands.

The Michelin guide was first published in France in 1900 as a free directory that offered listings of hotels to promote road travel which would in turn help sales of Michelin brand tires. By 1926, they started charging for the guide and also started rating the restaurants. Michelin has its secret reviewers going into restaurants and giving them a 3 star rating to them based on their experience. Now, they seem to be making the identity of these reviewers public and therefore giving it a lot of credibility.

Here's my experience of the customer engagement and the gaps that I saw

I had visited the website as it generated a lot of interest in me due to  high decibel PR. While the campaign seems to be at a teaser  stage just now, the website had some interesting content around the history of the guide etc. I wanted to see the interview with the inspectors section and it asked me to comeback on Oct 5th. This is where they I felt they got it all wrong and dropped the ball!

Take a look at some great opportunities to build  the depth of this engagement further with consumers:

  1. Interview Alert:  They could have asked me to register for the interview alert with inspectors as and when it happens on the site. A simple and easy trail that I could have left behind - build a prospect database for the guide. I would have gladly agreed to do so. Oct 5th is quite a long way off and I might just forget to revisit the website amongst my other commitments. Hence, the engagement needs to be at the behest of the brand and not leave it to chance of my coming back.
  2. E-book Track: Having come-up with a great story on the heritage of the guide, there was an interesting opportunity that seemed to be available - to capture my identity to build a dialog further. Brands need to understand conversations like this happen over multiple touches with  consumers. The heritage story has interesting levers to "extend the conversation"!
  3. Leveraging the power of multi-channel for trial:  There is a huge opportunity for this campaign to use a multi-stage, multi-channel campaign approach which seems to have been missed. There is a great case for using mobile marketing by registering the vistors' mobile numbers and texting them on "interesting happenings on this website or restaurants" when they are not on the net. Also, if  consumers don't pre-book, there can be a trigger for the 'trial' of the guide. Consumers could use mobile texting(SMS) or email alerts to know more about a particular restaurant of their interest and their rating. This could act as a "sampling" for the new guide and encourage more purchase interest in the guide. This will open-up new opportunities for dialog and a continous one too.
In the world of open-source marketing and web conversations, there is a need to look at building the dialog thro' bits and bytes all the time. One must be able to link every "customer interaction chain" into a next step that can fulfil a behavioural objective - reinforce, reopen the dialog, inform, reiterate etc. and this is critical if the campaign objectives have to be met.


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