As I blogged about previously, the BrickFest 2006 event this past weekend was fantastic. But of all the great things I saw and heard, there was one story that stuck out more than any other.
During the big Saturday night keynote question & answer session, an Asian woman came up to the microphone. She gave some background about how the Asian market is underserved by much of the community efforts LEGO has undertaken, limited and expensive product availablity, and a few other issues. She wasn’t complaining, she was asking what she could do. See, she had gone to the local LEGO office to offer to lend a hand and was turned away cold. (Don’t forget, this wasn’t an offer of help from just one person, it was an offer from someone representing the local community) That’s right – she was offering to provide a community of Citizen Marketers willing to take instructions from the brand they loved in order to help them grow bigger. And they were turned away cold.
Standing in front of 500 people, including the head of LEGO community development and the company CEO, she wasn’t complaining. She was setting up the background of her real question: "….so what can I do to get through to the Singapore sales office?" She wanted to help out enough that even a black eye wouldn’t turn her away. At least not without a little more effort.
But this was only the first half of a two-part, misty eyed story.
The CEO of a multi-billion dollar company immediately answers: "I’m actually going to be in Singapore next week. Would you be able to join me when I meet with that office so we can work it out?" The audience went wild. By the end of the event, they had arranged a meeting time. The CEO, the leadership of LEGO Singapore, and a fan.
The effect was much larger than simply helping this one woman. Or even the local Singapore adult fans. There were several hundred people from around the world with communication capabilities like few other communities. The takeaway was simple: "Every one of you is important to the company, all the way to the top". The network effect will easily spread this message to the tens of thousands of LEGO fans worldwide.
Still think that the mass marketing is the only way to access large audiences?