The quick answer is: sell more.
We can talk about building brand affinity, loyalty programs, engaging the consumers and all of the other stuff, but if your marketing is not driving sales, it is failed and flawed. Sorry. We can debate the merits of brand building, but without sales, there’s not much of a brand. You can sing the same song when it comes to the other critical components that make up a strong marketing mix and a hearty brand ecosystem, but it’s all for nothing if it doesn’t get consumers coming back for more (and telling everyone they know about it). Just ask Uniqlo, Apple or Trader Joe’s.
So, what is your marketing trying to do?
Yesterday, Marketing Charts published a news item titled, Facebook Fan Size May Not Translate to Relationship Quality. Are you shocked? This is the old, "quality vs. quantity" debate that keeps regurgitating itself into the marketing discourse. But, it’s still fascinating as many of the more traditional marketing agencies and brands think that "winning" at Facebook is about how many people "like" a brand. According to the article…
"Fan volume does not appear to translate to relationship quality, though, as only 2 of the top 5 brands by fan volume, and less than half of the top 20, appear on the Fathom Research Relationship Quality Index (RQI) as of January 10, 2012. The RQI scores brands on 4 factors with equal weight: number of fans; momentum (based on speed of fan acquisition); fan engagement (based on how often they post on or interact with pages); and emotional quality (how much and how positive emotion is expressed on comments). According to Fathom Research, the top 5 Facebook brand pages, as of January 10, 2012, are YouTube, with a score of 91, followed by Coca-Cola (90), Red Bull (86), Walmart (86), and iTunes (85)."
Who vs. How many?
As Social Media became popular, I engaged in the argument that it’s not about how many people your brand connects to (which is the main metric that traditional advertising looks at), but now we can better understand who these people are and what they’re really about (wants, desires, level of care). The thinking was fairly basic: ten raving fans are better than blasting thousands of people who could care less, and now these fans are self-identifying themselves in places like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc… Well, my thinking has evolved (dramatically) as Social Media and other digital marketing platforms have begun to take hold. It’s not a zero sum game anymore… you can have both. In a Facebook world of 800 million people connected and sharing, you can have both a mass amount of people as well as a better understanding of who they are and what their needs are. Some fans want simple promotions and others might want a much richer type of engagement. This index proves the point: a lot of fans does not equal a lot of engaged fans.
Blasting vs. Touching.
The mistake that the New Media marketers make when looking at news items like this one from Marketing Charts, is that if you don’t have engagement (and a deep one), that the brand is doing it wrong. That the brand is simply blasting a message into another media channel that is being used just like every other channel. This point, is true but it doesn’t make a blasting technique (versus a touching technique) wrong. It’s just a shame because the opportunity could be that much more substantial. As excited as I am about media being divided into passive and active, we’re going to also see many brands (and the agencies that serve them) start thinking more seriously about blasting (or broadcasting) strategies tethered with touching (or engagement) strategies.
Built to touch.
The real answer is that brands (at least, the majority of them) are not built to touch. They look at brands like Zappos and marvel at how they serve their consumers (and, while it may not be perfect, it is very human). The digitization and social engagement of everything is changing the very fundamentals of business. As long as we keep pretending that this is simply a marketing initiative, nothing will change. People care about brands and people want to be connected to brands, so if brands want nothing more than people following them so that they can blast a message at them, fine, but there are so many new, interesting and fascinating things that the brand can do to fascinate, capture and care about their consumers. Knowing who those customers are and getting them just a little bit more engaged seems like the ideal place to start.
It begs the questions: what is your Marketing trying to do? What is your business trying to do?
The title evokes an image that “your Marketing” is like a free range chicken out running around trying fervently but randomly to do something… which is pretty much how most businesses have responded to changes in internet marketing and social media. They hire an “expert” who does something external to business goals and marketing strategy or internally delegate it to their cousin or an intern and hope like hell it works… if they are even engaged at all.
One of the reasons I recommend your blog and podcast so much is the consistent emphasis on solid marketing strategy being the foundation and other outreaches being layered on top in harmony.
Let me translate that: most Marketers are being dragged – kicking and screaming – into Digital Marketing… and that’s the real tragedy here.
That is true. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said, “As Social Media became popular, I engaged in the argument that it’s not about how many people your brand connects to”. I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you’re talking about. Can’t wait to read more from you!
I deal with very small businesses – artists and craftspeople, usually one-person operations. Their customers are fascinated by what they create and how they do it. Touch – in the most immediate sense – is a huge part of their work as well as customer engagement.
Many of them are also terrified by what they perceive as marketing. They don’t want to do something they perceive as pushy.
But when I suggest they make use of digital marketing in the form of a blog or Facebook to post a picture of raw materials (imagine a stack of colourful fabric, for example), they go blank – because they don’t see that as marketing, either.
It would be easy to say it’s because they have no perspective because it’s all so ordinary to them, but what I think is happening here is the simplicity of it. Too many people think marketing has to be complicated. They don’t trust the small steps of engagement.
Thanks, Daniel… I appreciate that. It’s also why I still have a deep passion for Blogs and Blogging. It enables me to adjust, change and even disagree with myself 😉
Stacey, it sounds to me like your clients are also confusing marketing with advertising and promotion. Advertising and promotion is a sub-set of marketing. Odds are, if they figured out what their raw materials cost and what mark-up they would like on that to make a profit, they are marketing 😉 If they’ve figured where they are placing their art (a coffee house, local art dealer), they are marketing. Artists are often nervous about the promotional part… they shouldn’t be. The whole point of making art is for it to be bought and appreciated.
I generally use the big umbrella rather than separate marketing and promotion. Nothing like technical terminology to take one’s mind off the tasks at hand 😉
I think each section of the marketing plan ultimately has it’s own aim. The bigger picture needs to make money (like you say, without sales there would be no brand or business) but i think certain elements can’t be measured on the success of the sales.
Social Media (content marketing in general) should have it’s aim on just beginning a conversation and getting people on board. If good, then sales can come on the back of this, but it may be quite away down the line, making it difficult to place the sale with that particular marketing ‘tool’.
In the long run a good brand will come out on top and things will result in sales.
It’s about a good balance i suppose, like most things in life
Matt (Turndog Millionaire)
So true Mitch. Too often, we’re asked to answer the question “What can our brand do in Social Media” and we translate that question internally to our team as “What will make this brand social?”
That’s the real win. Becoming a social brand.
I hear you… having worked for a long time with artists, it’s true that they have a massive disconnect between the art that they create and selling it. I’m not sure why they grapple with it so much… we all love art and (I hope that) we are happy to support it. Especially when it resonates.
No doubt, but we still need to be tracking it from that early point down to some kind of sale… otherwise, what’s the point?
I’m happy that we work together… that’s all that I can say 😉
For those who don’t know, Mick is my business partner at Twist Image 🙂
Just wanted to say that this is one of your best posts. You really connected the dots very well.
Ahhh, this isn’t any fun… you and I agreeing way too much lately 😉
Yes very true, it all needs to come back eventually and provide some commerce. Like you say, that’s the point of setting up the business in the first place.
As we move further and further into this social+search quagmire, the winners are going to be the ones who focused on growing their business, one very satisfied customer at a time.
If your marketing is not 100% focused on helping people (by selling products, of course, but also other things), you also have failed. Results matter but so does the attitude in the first place.
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