How new social trends are changing our marketing approach
Altough it is pretty evident that one-way-communication - Brand to Consumers - has been drammaticaly losing effectiveness and efficiency since the web began to play a significant role in influencing our behaviours and our culture, the biggest players of all industries are unforgivably delaying the adoption of different communication strategies. Twenty years ago TV and Print were the dominant vehicles for advertising products and brands and the top adv spenders didn’t have to stall to decide how to allocate the marketing budget. Today Tv and Print are still here but the audience has significantly changed.
The consumer is different. He is aware. Consumers are in touch with other consumers through the Net. They do not purchase because they see nice ads, they purchase because they read a top rated review or because of word of mouth or because a friend on facebook recommended to buy. The brand does not impose itself anymore: the brand exists because the consumers want it and allow it to exist. Anyone can kill a brand, anytime, even by posting a simple video on Youtube. It is the power of the Net, which no firm should ever underestimate.
And what do the companies do to adapt themselves and their marketing investments to this drammatically evolved scenario? They switch a little bit their investments. Just a little switch against a radical change in the consumers habits and rules.
Because of fear. Nothing but fear.
If you are driving your car on a straight road and you see an obstacle on your way, you steer to get around it, don’t you? So why do the CEO of the major corporations stubbornly keep to allocate 70-80-90% of the communcation effort on tools, such as TV and paper magazines, whose ROI is questionable when not evidently negative? Which are not only much more costly but especially not able to influence the consumers preference anymore?
Simply because they are worried of the unknown and tipically they do not want to take too much of a risk.
If you do things like you always do and you fail, it is the market that is slackening; if you change and you fail, then it is your fault. Devastating philosophy. And then Kotler is still the best marketing manager’s ”friend”. But Philip Kotler is evolving himself! He wrote a bunch of books and articles warning that the old marketing school needs to be adapted to this rolling scenario.
The consumer is smart now. He is not the prey anymore, he is the hunter. Marketing strategies always include words like KPI’s, GRP’s, pretending to catch millions consumers at a time and overwhelm them with massive broadcast schedule, including TV, radio, print. But to convince a smart consumer, you got to be smart yourself. You can’t just schedule a classic advertising slot and wait for the consumers to rush to the store and purchase your product:
- You have to converse with the consumers and listen to their ideas.
- You have to meet them where they meet up: virtual and real spaces.
- You have to infiltrate their lives, but asking for their permission.
- You have to be unconventional, or you will appear boring: you have to surprise them.
But, again, what are the main barriers which are preventing such a breakthrough approach, compared to some prehistoric tactics that still persist?
It is called ” self-preservation instinct”. If you are a cutting edge manager with a bit of courage and a lot of knowledge about the new trends, you should know the only way to gain the consumers’ respect is to establish a two-way communication with them. Of course now it is more like that than it was 5 years ago: but why didn’t it happen 5 years ago? Because nobody wants to be an early adopter. Everybody wants to follow and implement new approachs only when they have some confidence they will be successfull. Too easy and not innovative at all.
Too many top executives still freak out when they have to approve communication strategies based on something which cannot be precisely measured. They are GRP’s addicted and ”how many contacts” lovers. They do not even consider the idea of investing money in web infiltration tactics whose results cannot be numerically calculated.
If you approach the new and unconventional media with the same approach you adopt for the classic adversiting, be prepared to fail. But if you stop asking how many consumers would we intercept on a guerrilla marketing initiative and start asking how can we improve our dialogue with people instead, be prepared to succeed.