There is a vast amount of research that has been conducted recently regarding the consumers’ preferred method of receiving marketing communication. A recent study by Forrester Research, and commissioned by ExactTarget, highlights that the majority of consumers today still have a strong affinity towards email.
The important take out: Consumers prefer email at a rate of three-to-one when compared with any other avenue for marketing communications such as social media, Instant Messaging, phone and SMS!
Despite the abundance of research that all points towards email being the marketing method of choice for consumers, why do marketers continue to ignore this?
Despite the spike of Internet users using social media, for example three quarters of Australian online adults now use social technologies (Forrester: Australian Adult Social Technographics Revealed 2008), as a general rule, consumers are NOT open to receiving marketing communication via this channel.
As social media continues to boom with new channels for communication being created everyday (with new social networking sites and the like popping up), there is an overreliance and tendency to use this medium for all-purposes in order to reach the masses.
Unfortunately we forego the very fundamental principles of Marketing 101.
We need to stop, think, plan and go back to basics:
Who are our customers?
Where are they?
What are their preferences for receiving marketing messages?
What are the right messages for each customer segment?
What channel do we use to reach them?
A quick Google search and some top line research is enough to reveal where our customers’ preferences sit. It’s all very simple. Follow the basic principles of marketing and target the right marketing messages to the right audience based on their preferences using the appropriate channels!
Yet sadly we are missing the point! We’re frustrating consumers and, ultimately, not getting the outcomes that we desire!
Right about now, the Global Financial Crisis has probably hit most companies marketing budgets, with CEO’s tightening the belt on expenses as their revenue lines come down. Prudently these chief executives seek to bring costs into line with revenues.
A study by the Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks company, found ‘82% of companies have reallocated their planned marketing spend for 2009 to varying degrees on account of the recession.’
The Aberdeen analyst continues with what would seem to be the bleeding obvious: ‘Companies need to ensure that they’re allocating their limited marketing funds in the most productive ways possible … In other cases, companies are actually investing more aggressively in various types of marketing programs, sensing an opportunity to capitalize on the grim economic headlines.’
So for PR managers across the globe this means that marketers are probably beating a direct path to their doorstep looking to leverage ‘free PR’ to augment their dwindling demand generation dollars. This is good news.
It’s good because like the Marines, PR comes to the rescue and to the forefront of marketers’ consciousness. It’s good because PR executed and managed correctly can do enormous good for awareness, consideration and preference. And finally it’s good because social media is the next black and PR as a discipline is primed and ready to take to this new vehicle with a vengeance.
Smart PR managers will be evaluating and prioritizing their core dollars and then looking to see how they can maximize and deliver results on the incremental dollars that some of the marketing folks will bring to the table. The even smarter ones will start to factor into their PR programs effectiveness metrics and will be able to provide a correlation between the campaign or program spend and execution and whatever pre-determined measures were agreed with the marketing folks. That then provides clear accountability and enables PR to talk the marketing talk and walk it at the same time.
Unlike traditional media, social media metrics provide a fantastic opportunity to highlight PR ROI, if done correctly. Linking back a PR-specific program to traffic, or eyeballs or community conversations can be easier (and cheaper) than the more traditional qual and quant analyses of print and broadcast media. There are powerful online tools that allow you to do this and even automate the reporting.
All in all, now is a great time to be in PR.
With tech publications and online media warming to the idea of vendor generated content, the opportunity to garner coverage and increase the visibility of your brand, products and services through channels such as videos, infographics, slideshows and podcasts are on the rise. Although many of these outlets will accept content in the form of bylined articles, guest columns, and white papers, they require significant time commitments from our clients, which can oftentimes be a challenge. Video is quick, easy and requires a relatively low investment in time and resources, all while providing yet another medium for showcasing thought leadership.
Video has seen enormous growth online over the past few years, which can be attributed to increased broadband adoption and the proliferation of video sharing sites such as YouTube, Blip.TV and Yahoo! Video. With these sites attracting hundreds of millions of eyeballs per month, and with tech media and bloggers scrambling for content, the opportunity to broadcast your company’s message can seem just about endless.
I read a really interesting article on the emerging social media trend of ‘dark marketing’ which takes a very much ‘covert’ approach. It provides examples of companies that have implemented stealth tactics in order to reach and sway influencers and potential influencers without engaging them directly with a brand.
Dark Marketing was defined as “…discretely sponsored online and real world entertainment intended to reach hipster audiences that would ordinarily shun corporate shilling” by Tom Edwards in this article.
In order to give a balanced account of this marketing approach, I have provided a couple of positive and negative examples. Sony recently launched a ‘Fake Tourist’ campaign in which it seeded Sony camera users in a central location and asked them to engage with people to take their picture with the desired goal to lead to a ‘pseudo-pitch’ around the product. This approach faced widespread criticism as it was considered a sly tactic to try and drive up sales of Sony’s latest camera product.
Another example is Vespa in the U.S. (which isn’t listed in this particular article I am referring to). Vespa actually hired attractive models to ride around on its scooters and up to bystanders in order to lure them, with their looks, into asking for their phone number. At this point, the Vespa driver would hand out a phone number and ride off (kind of like what you would expect to see in a movie). The catch? When the bystanders called the number, they were actually directly connected to a Vespa dealership!
Don’t be disillusioned. There are examples of this sort of activity that can work – but importantly, the activity needs to be ‘smart’ and cannot offend consumers.
An example used in the article of where this stealth tactic has worked is McDonalds and its recent ‘Lost Ring’ campaign. The Lost Ring was a virtual reality viral game targeted at youth and aimed at subtly promoting the McDonald’s brand and its partnership with the Olympics. It was in fact so discrete that it was almost (and still is) impossible to attribute this back to the McDonald’s brand. Not one single instance of a golden arch. The interesting thing here is that even post-campaign period – the site has a really simple survey mechanism to solicit feedback from site visitors – and still subtle in its branding.
Marketers are getting smarter – and so they must – especially if they (and we) want to be able to reach out to and make an impact on relevant brand influencers both online and offline.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on covert/ stealth marketing. Do you think it’s right/ wrong?
I was reading an article about Twitter on Silicon Valley’s Mercury News today. It raised a good point and one that I wanted to talk about here. The sites describes Twitter as the “…Seinfeld of the Internet”. This can also be interpreted as ‘the website about nothing’. I have blogged about the use of Twitter in the Marketing/PR industry previously so with this comment, I think it is time to revisit my thoughts on this new(ish) Web 2.0 tool.
Are we wasting time frequenting Twitter? Is there really any inherent value that we can take away from this online tool? To be perfectly honest, i’m not too sure if my Twitter updates, such as those below, would provide any use to any of those that follow me:
It might make them laugh at me but i’m probably wasting their time (and mine). These people, however, have requested to follow me which makes me think people actually want to hear about my daily rants and whereabouts - as pointless as it may seem.
I don’t want to be too pessimistic about the value of Twitter. Mercury News reports that Twitter had “…1.2 million unique visitors in May…”. We are seeing it gain value in some parts of the world - particularly with regards to political applications in the United States. For example, Barack Obama has used Twitter to provide updates to the public from his campaign trail.
We are also seeing the tool used for PR purposes. These days, many journalists are also using Twitter as a means of communicating the stories/ features they are researching and writing. Savvy PR consultants are utilising tools such as Twitter regularly in order to keep abreast of relevant engagement opportunities for their clients.
As I mentioned, I see this tool gaining traction in the United States but I don’t think we are seeing similar traction across the Asia Pacific - at least not at this point in time. Will we see the journalists/ analysts on this side of the world use the tool to put the word out regarding what they are working on? We’ll just have to wait and see.
As far as reaching a wider audience, would my mum or dad ever use Twitter? (No - I really doubt it). I don’t even think my friends working at large IT-centric companies would.
The questions I am toying with at the moment (and I ask for your input) - Will we see Twitter move into the mainstream? Will it ever attract a truly global audience? As communication experts, should we be using Twitter on a daily basis?
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at work only to find a few blog post links in an email mentioning that I ranked number 29 in the Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blogs. This said list was compiled by Julian Cole. See below.
|2||Servant of Chaos||9||5||8||6||6||5||39|
|3||Duncans Tv Adland||6||5||7||6||8||5||37|
|5||Better Communication Results||8||3||6||5||6||6||34|
|7||Small Business Branding||7||3||0||8||7||8||33|
|14||Business of Marketing & Branding||6||5||6||4||4||1||26|
|16||Australian SEO Blog||4||4||5||4||6||1||24|
|17||Wide Open Spaces||8||5||4||3||3||1||24|
|28||Mark Neely’s Blog||7||3||2||2||3||0||17|
|31||In my atmosphere||6||4||0||3||2||1||16|
|34||Pigs Don’t Fly||6||4||1||1||2||0||14|
|36||Australian Small Business||6||3||0||0||4||0||13|
|37||The Jason Recliner||4||4||1||2||1||1||13|
|42||Zero Budget Marketing Ideas||6||3||1||1||1||0||12|
|46||Arrow Internet SEO||7||2||0||0||1||1||11|
|47||The Sticky Report||7||0||1||2||0||0||10|
|48||Naked Communications-The Flasher||8||0||0||1||0||1||10|
|50||Send up a larger room||7||0||0||1||0||0||8|
The blog list was compiled using a set of criteria, including Google Page Ranks, Technorati Blog Reactions, Alexa page ranking and Blog Lines. Additionally, a subjective ‘pioneer’ score was also included, measuring the ‘blog’s ability to have pioneering thoughts about marketing’.
The Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blog list will appear in the August edition of Marketing Magazine. It will also be updated every three months, with the next update this September.
I try and give my blog as much love and attention as possible, but unfortunately find that my time tends to get cannibalised elsewhere. This new found, albeit short, burst of fame is exactly what I need to give me that extra bit of motivation to make sure that I am regularly contributing my thoughts on the latest emerging technologies and Web 2.0 developments and how these are impacting on the marketing and PR disciplines.
Here’s to crawling up the ranks Stay tuned for the next instalment!
David Carlson: Social Media and Traditional PR