This post is part 2 of a 6-part series on the future of marketing. Read part 1 here.
When was the last time a company used their marketing powers to help you, rather than interrupt you? Can you even remember? This week, I’ll explore the first of a few forward-looking companies who are using marketing in a very different way than we’re used to. Instead of merely pushing us to buy more useless junk, they are helping us, in ways large and small, to actually become better people. Don’t think it’s possible? Have a look at Nike+.
Nike+ is more than just another place to buy Nike gear. The site is part community, part education and part online store. You can buy running gear. But you can also sync your runs to your iPod, track your progress, get advice from running coaches and start an online training program, to name just a few of the ways that Nike+ helps runners improve their performance.
This might not sound like a big deal, especially if you aren’t a runner, but here’s why it’s important:
Rather than use false promises and celebrities to sell flashy shoes and apparel, Nike+ empowers runners to become stronger, faster and more powerful. In short, Nike+ actually helps you become a better runner.
Nike+ doesn’t start with a marketing push and end with a purchase. The goal, instead, is to build an ongoing, mutually-enriching relationship between Nike and the runner. The look and feel of the site is deliberately designed so that buying stuff always feels secondary to helping runners to improve themselves. Even if you never give Nike a penny, you have access to the benefits of Nike+.
This isn’t just good for customers. If the company’s robust profits are any indicator, it has been very good for Nike, as well.
Nike is still far from perfect, but the point of this post isn’t to showcase perfection. It’s to show you that marketing can be constructive, meaningful and even valuable – not merely disruptive – for the people toward whom it’s directed.
Next week, I’ll write about a company that’s helping people collaborate not just more effectively and efficiently, but more constructively and humanely.