Canon's Customer-Centric Marketing Puts Focus on People

A subtle shift in messaging can make a big difference.

Content Marketing

Canon's latest marketing campaign focuses not on the products themselves, but around how people are using the brand's products. It makes for an inspiring mix of content marketing and brand storytelling that will impress consumers, and approving marketers alike.

All too often, marketing content and literature can be overly didactic. Even at its most creative, or most expensive, perhaps with the full force of a brands marketing might and budget behind a snazzy new slogan - the messaging still essentially says one thing: “Look at how awesome we are, look how great our product is.”

Clever cross-channel initiatives, shareable content, and a great deal of digital marketing talent, means campaigns are still often great successes, but many campaigns still are still built upon one-sided communication dynamics. Traditionally, brands have never been particularly good listeners, and this harks back to the fact that it has typically been fairly difficult for consumers to talk back, or provide feedback in years and decades past.

Spreading Customer Stories

In many ways, Canon’s latest campaign is no different from many others. It’s still headed by a sleek, inspirational, and catchy slogan - “See Impossible” - and it is still based around a brand new microsite as its flagship digital content. Nothing new there.

The way the campaign differs is in the subtlety of the brand’s messaging, no longer using content as a means of spreading core brand values, messaging, and product information, but to spread stories about how consumers are using their products.

It’s a change that has been inspired, and enabled, by digital technology, such as social media and video sharing platforms. Moreso than ever before, consumers are sharing stories about the products they are using, generating content and product advocacy that influences the way fellow consumers view products.

It appears that Canon has been listening to those stories. To give an example, creative young filmmakers have been using highly spec’d, but incredibly cheap, Canon DSLRs to produce stunning work for a number of years, so much so that the brand will arguably take pride of place as the defining manufacturer of DSLR filmmaking cameras of the noughties. It’s just one example of a customer story that the brand has fully embraced:

So it’s the way their products are being used, rather than the products themselves that is inspiring Canon’s ‘See Impossible’ stories:

People Rather Than Products

It is ultimately a simple message, but one that shouldn’t be underestimated. Camera and optics manufactures have always managed to produce incredibly strong, emotive marketing, driven by the power of having such an experiential product to promote, and Canon’s latest campaign really strikes a chord in the way brands should be listening and responding to consumers today.

It’s never been easier for brands to observe and appreciate the way consumers are using, and feeding back about their products - it’s only natural that this should filter into a brands overall messaging.

A Canon press release spoke of the brand’s repositioning as a ‘listener’ as well as an innovator: “Canon is working to listen, adapt, and build a prescient understanding of the changing market forces it faces today and the opportunities they present.”

Michael Duffett, VP and General Manager of marketing at Canon, expanded upon how the campaign is helping the brand move towards greater customer-centricity in their marketing activity:

“We’re going to use it as a messaging vehicle, but we’re also going to use it internally to organize and marshal our resources in a way that’s much more customer-centric than just strictly approaching everything from a product viewpoint that we’ve done over the years. Our current Web properties do a great job of talking about the specific product, but nowhere do we have a really good place to say a particular company or a particular photographer are using our solutions.”

Even a subtle change in focus can make a difference to the big picture.

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