I am about to write a series of “Marketing Example” posts that are completely against what good quality and effective marketing should look like. It is not what Coffee Marketing stands for, nor is what I would suggest a business buys into, whether it appears to provide good value for money or not.
By this I am referring to the ‘productisation’ of social marketing, where specific packages are created and sold to as many companies as possible. This might look like a check list of services you will receive and general guarantees of what can be expected. This method is great for the marketer of course, as it requires minimal work and no customisation of numerous proposals. A template can be created and sent out to large numbers of people and some unfortunately buy them.
This is simply not an effective way to do marketing as there are so many variables that are at work and each much be considered if the marketing efforts are to work.
Traditionally companies attempted to understand their customer and target audience. Based on this they would then create messages according to what would appeal to this audience and chose the advertising/ marketing channels that they would be most likely to see. Times have changed. Today marketing communication is; engaged with, shared, modified, ripped apart, re-formatted and much more online. This means marketers have little control over their marketing communication, they can but try to manage how the communication is used and feedback that is given by the viewer.
This has added a whole new set of variables to a marketing strategy and the subsequent plan. The groups and communities that are being targeted must be understood and the company must ensure they are relevant to any online community to avoid backlash and ensure success.
As such, a precursor to the generalised services that might be offered to companies that is coming in future posts, is given below. I give you 10 reasons that any social marketing strategy MUST be tailored.
1. Each product or service has different strengths that need capitalising upon and shouting about.
If this needs visually demonstrating then a video network might be useful to achieve this.
2. Each product or service has different weaknesses that need managing and reducing in the marketing communication.
If a weakness is visible when demonstrating it in video, then video should not be used, but perhaps a blog to communicate the other benefits of the product/ service.
3. Every industry is more or less prone to cynicism and will take more or less effort and relationship management as a result.
The financial sector and services that benefit from personal meeting have a hard time convincing the masses online to engage with them and visit a website. In fact what is required is a marketing strategy that focuses on delivering light, one-to-one support to build trust in the advisor before a service is recommended.
4. Every product or service has a brand story to tell and this requires a unique approach.
In order to capitalise on the inherent personalities available that can be used in social marketing they need to be understood. Often an outspoken CEO is happy to write about company developments, but in as many instances a strong brand personality (e.g. the infamous Meercat) needs identifying to create an impact and company “face”
5. Every company has different work flows and processes that need considering if the business can resource any given marketing effort over time.
This is important, as marketing, executed correctly, grows in effectiveness over time. There is no point in providing a strategy that requires internal resources that are not available. Similarly there is largely no benefit in buying a 2 month SEO campaign where no additional resources are available at maintain it’s effectiveness.
6. Each company has a different heritage, existing network and relationships that can help, guide and increase the social marketing effort.
There are many trade bodies and industries that have groups online today and these should be engaged with to demonstrate your affiliation with them. If you have a large existing customer base and they would be willing, ask them to recommend you online, or share their positive story with the world, so you can share it.
7. Company directors and staff all have favourite communication channels and these can be used in the marketing effort.
Encourage company staff to drive forward the effectiveness of the marketing activity. If staff are using Facebook at work- have them promote you business to their network! Ensure guidelines are set so people know what their limitations are, but ask them to join the company’s social media group and contribute.
8. The current brand image will impact on what the most relevant social media platforms and technologies to use.
A visual brand might simply use display advertising or a social application focusing on visual impact, where a technology company with respected sales staff might use blogs to communicate raw data and knowledge.
9. Some companies produce more content than others, whether naturally, or as part of existing marketing activity.
Companies with content can provide a build a solid voice in the market and adjust this to suit different audiences. Becoming an opinion leader in your sector is powerful stuff and should be used where possible, but optimised to the social media that is being used.
10. Each online group and community has its own rules of engagement, tone and interests.
In order to become part of the conversation and become relevant and interesting to the group each needs understanding in relation to the business you are operating in. Are they really relevant? A forum or a social media platform might hold more people relevant to your business.
So, you rightfully ask, why are you doing it then? Well I have attended every show and many networking events this year to truly understand the marketing needs and expectations of Small Businesses in adopting Social Marketing.
The bottom line is we are still at the beginning of the cycle for most. People have heard of Facebook and Twitter perhaps, or even Second Life but do not understand the different components of online marketing, let alone how social marketing fits into this and how they might be used together.
As such Coffee Marketing Consultancy are producing top line, generalised products for a fictitious brand, that demonstrate which disciplines might be used to achieve 3 of the top marketing objectives that have been identified through my discussions.
These will basically show which components would work, how they integrate and how they ultimately meet the objective set out. I hope that it is also made clear that once an understanding has been gained around what is possible and what this looks like in general that the need for a strong initial strategy and communication plan is required.
Remember: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail!