Archive for July, 2009
While the call for marketers to jump on the social media and inbound marketing bandwagon is getting louder every day, will you know how to benefit from your participation in the community, without alienating it, once you find it?
It’s critical to remember that even though you are representing a brand, and your ultimate goal may involve increasing sales, social media is not the time or place for sales speak. Marketers must always remember that as participants in these conversations, they don’t and can’t control them. The goal is to engage in meaningful exchanges and develop honest relationships. Once you are engaged, here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you are making the most of your social media efforts.
1- Do you know how to spot your online market?
To begin with, social media marketing can often be an overwhelming choice of continuously changing options. Because it’s usually easier to find your community than it is to create it, finding the right channels where your business and your audience’s interests meet are crucial to your success. Your audience may be found in or may be moving between popular social sites, blogs, social bookmarking sites, forums, CGM sites, mobile technology, application-based networks, and assorted types of vertical networks to name just a few. It’s always a difficult balancing act to know where to find and how to maintain a relationship with a continuously moving target.
2- Will you be able to recognize your community when it’s included within a larger group?
Are you sure you will know if you are in the right place, or are you passing by an opportunity because you didn’t recognize it? As the environment changes it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of this rapidly evolving landscape, and to be able to recognize your market, even when they are not talking about your brand or specific category.
3- Can you spot trends in sentiment of satisfaction, and advocacy for your brand — or your competition’s?
The ability to listen to the market is a key benefit of social marketing. It gives you the opportunity to understand what your brand, (or your competitor’s brand) actually means to the market, helps you find evangelists, gather information for the future, spot dissatisfaction and address issues before it publicly explodes into major problems. It is important to know how to decipher the information that you are gathering.
4- Is your audience spreading the word about your brand and have you given your audience something they find worthwhile to talk about?
An audience of passive listeners will not stick around long unless you openly share meaningful content to engage them. This is not the time for a free sample or a newsletter. In order for social marketing to be most effective, your relationship must have substance for everyone involved to stay engaged. Nobody wants to hear about your products or brand all of the time, but if you begin with an honest and authentic corporate culture then provide highly insightful and or entertaining content worth sharing— that has nothing specific to do with your brand — chatting with you and about you will become natural. This is an ongoing creative process that requires imagination, planning and participation from across your entire organization and often outside as well.
5- If you haven’t planned where your going, how will you know when you get there?
One of the most overlooked aspects of social media marketing is the strategy and plan. Just as in any other form of marketing, social media should be an intentional and planned marketing effort with specific goals and metrics to identify success. Despite the claim that social marketing is free, there is a significant time commitment (and associated cost) if you want it to be successful and productive. If your efforts aren’t planned, they can’t be measured. And without measuring your efforts and gains, you wont know what works and what doesn’t. A strategy with specific goals, tactics, and time estimates will help make sure you stay on track and provide a framework for achieving your goals
It took a recession for marketers to take another look at actually who is buying their product. Due to cut backs, marketing efforts had to be fine-tuned for even greater impact. What many marketer’s learned was that the people buying their products were not the same people they were speaking to. It actually came as a surprise that marketing for men’s products should not necessarily be targeted just to men.
Some large manufacturers have already made adjustments to reflect this revelation. According to the Economist magazine, the snack manufacturer Frito-Lay, which is owned by Pepsi Cola, has launched a campaign called “Only In A Women’s World,” to convince women their products are not just for men, but women too. The same article mentions that Office Max, the second largest office supply company in the United States, redesigned its notebooks and file-holders to appeal more to women. Office Max is also running advertisements to encourage women to make their office cubicles more colorful. The article further noted that McDonalds became a fashion week sponsor for the first time this past February. The event was used by McDonalds to promote a new line of hot drinks targeted towards women.
The economic climate also had the unexpected effect of further increasing the influence of women as the driving force in purchasing. Since unemployment has hit men disproportionately to women, it has decreased men’s buying power as a group. When you consider a women’s increasing earning power along with her previously established role as the purchase decision-maker in the home, the importance of marketing specifically to women cannot be denied for almost any product.
It is quite ironic that it took an economic meltdown for marketing to catch up. “It is hardly news that (women) control the vast majority of consumer spending. They buy 90% of food, 55% of consumer electronics, and most of the new cars,” says Bain & Company’s head of global consuming Eric Almquist.
The sooner marketers shift their efforts to the correct target and look at their product through a women’s eyes, the better chance they have to hit a bull’s-eye.
In a recent Search Marketing Survey, MarketingSherpa concluded that cross-functional marketing strategies are becoming more common.
With the ever expanding variations in search, PPC, and contextual models, and now add the introduction of Facebook’s own PPC program, advertisers have increasingly more options to determine not only the medium, but the location, format, and cost structure that works best for their individual needs.
“Facebook serves as a perfect example. They offer advertisers the choice to buy display ads on a CPM basis or bid for PPC placements. These big, successful publishers would not be using the model if it didn’t work.”
The Options Multiply
The variety of options to accurately pinpoint specific markets continues to increase in the form of inbound marketing tactics, PPC, contextual, social media, and display advertising.
In a rush to account to management for their advertising budgets, marketers are jockeying for position and adjusting their numbers between search, PPC, contextual and display advertising. Offline budgets are giving ground to the increasing online tactics, and the allure of easily attainable metrics.
Online marketing is not slowing down anytime soon. It will continue to grow and change, further fragmenting the audience and the marketing mechanisms that we use to reach them. Marketers will need to try new things to determine exactly what the right mix is for them. As they do, new tactics will continue to emerge and further complicate the formula.
“IBM for example has been utilizing a combination of social media, with traditional marketing to create a broader strategy since 2006”, says Sandy Carter, VP Service Oriented Architecture and WebSphere.
Use a Comprehensive Strategy
The most reasonable solution for marketers is a comprehensive one. Learn and adapt utilizing the metrics from the variety of online efforts, while integrating traditional marketing methods, social engagement and a host of inbound marketing tactics.
The first logical question marketers ask themselves is: “who uses our product and how can we target them?” But is that the right question or should it be “who is actually buying our product?”
Women are the gatekeepers of the American home. Statistics show that women make virtually all the decisions regarding both major and minor family purchases, including; personal care products, groceries, vacation destinations, computers, home improvements, new car purchases, even home purchases, themselves and much more. In fact, women make up 85 percent of all brand purchases, amounting to almost two trillion dollars.
Despite the proof, a great deal of marketers still don’t appeal to female sensibilities. Making matters worse, they often tries to be so tough to appeal to men, that they inadvertently turn women off. This is a huge missed opportunity. Successful marketers don’t ignore the power of women’s purchasing authority, and they address the issue head on. This doesn’t mean that every product should be in a pink package. It means marketers need to have a better understanding of whose making the final purchasing decision, and what motivates the buyer, not just the end user. Having a strategic and creative team that understand how to speak to these gatekeepers while not alienating the men that use the products is crucial. Working with an advertising agency owned and managed by women that have the personal experience as gatekeepers themselves is a reasonable first step and can be a huge asset.
Smart agencies know the Internet is an excellent place to reach women these days. Whether inside or outside of the home, women are multi-tasking on laptops, desktops and hand-held devices. If you aren’t reaching out and developing relationships with women through these media, you aren’t making nice to the gatekeepers.
The new hot place to shop is on a keyboard. According to Inc. magazine, “Women will continue to flock to the on-line platform that allows them to save time researching and buying.” Women are not just shopping for themselves they are shopping for their husbands, children, friends and other family members. It only makes sense to tailor more and more ads to appeal to these all-powerful decision-makers.
Make nice to the gatekeepers and you’ll reap the rewards.