Monday, June 29, 2009

Where Social Media Fits Into The Marketing Mix

Over at the Copy Write blog, Jonathan Crossfield writes that he is often asked what he considers to be the wrong question about how businesses "can use social media to increase sales, income or awareness. He notes that because the question focuses on a business’ goals, rather than consumers, then the application of social media is probably doomed to failure.

Jonathan’s comments allude to an important mindset – the mindset of being consumer centric – something that is known as the marketing concept. Basically it is an approach where you start with the consumer and identify needs and problems and build an offering to satisfy them. So long as you keep the consumer in the middle of your offering then you are a log way to being successful.

It is also what separates marketing and sales at their most basic level. Marketing is about satisfying a customers needs/problems while selling is concerned with shifting product (and focussed more on what the salesmen can achieve from the transaction rather than what real benefit it provides to the consumer). Check out a post on written by Andrew Wilson. It provides a great example about how Mazda re-invented itself by employing a marketing concept approach.

The offering, if it is a product, consists of 4 elements – product, price, place, promotion (the 4 Ps or marketing mix). If the offering is a service then not many people know/remember that 3 more Ps are added, they being;

  • The Process – The process that the consumer goes through to receive the service (think massage),
  • The Physical Environment – what does it look like? Is it classy, basic, rundown? This is different to '”place” in the 4 P’s as place relates more to where as in shopping centres, online, in-home etc and does not give consideration to the appearance of the location.
  • The People – the staff employed to perform the service.

Ok, so how does social media fit into all of this? The use of “fit into” is important in the question and ultimately should be what people ask Jonathan because social media doesn’t work by itself, in isolation from other activities. Instead, social media must be added into or used inside a company’s existing marketing mix.

Even if the company hasn’t approached their marketing from a theoretic framework then they will still have a product, price it, sell it somewhere and promote it somehow. If the offering is a service then they will also have a process in place to perform it, have staff that perform it and have a premises where the service is performed. Sometimes these elements are mixed together and executed well. Other times you wonder if the company gives a shit about you.

For some companies, it may be useful to do an audit on these marketing mix elements and think about how they relate to customers needs and problems. Then some thought can be applied to how to use social media in the existing marketing mix.

Jonathan gets asked and outside in question – how can social media be used? Instead it should be an inside out question and companies should go right back to square one – the consumers need – and then work out to see if and where social media can be used.7ps and SM

The diagram on the right shows the marketing mix – the consumer in the centre and the 4 Ps of a product around them and then the 3 Ps of service on the outside. The diagram shows, in dark blue, where companies can focus their social media efforts. For example;

  • Promotion – can social media be used to promote your offering? Be careful, social media isn’t like traditional media where you can just push a message. This is definitely the P that poses the biggest challenge.
  • Place – can social media expand the places where consumers can access your offering?
  • Process – can social media improve the process? For example, can customers place their coffee order over Twitter or use Facebook to RSVP to your events?
  • People – definitely the place where social media provides the biggest opportunity through connecting your customers with your staff. It also helps portray your companies personality and values.

The use of social media should focus on how it helps solve your customers problems or needs. Don’t let your social media use focus on how it helps you sell more product.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Celebrity Tweets Built Into Foxtel’s Channel V

Got home tonight and flicked on the TV and onto Channel V. Was watching a music video and I started seeing celebrity Tweets from Kelli Osbourne, Justin Timberlake, Lindsay Lohan etc pop up on the screen. Check it out below.

For some time, shows like this have allowed people to text messages for display on the screen. I wonder how long until shows allow real-time Tweets to appear on screen (maybe filtering with #channelV or @channelV?).


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Importance of Social Media in the Post-Purchase Evaluation Stage

SCStephen Collins over at Acidlabs, by his own admission, is “inclined to go off on a ranty diatribe” and posted a very thought provoking post about how social media is not actually about selling something. He admittedly states that social media isn’t actually about selling anything, mostly, and that he means “marketing ultimately focused on getting people to buy stuff. Not on changing opinion, not on awareness. It’s a deliberately narrow definition for the purposes of this post.”

The narrow definition is fine for his post, as he has openly admitted that he is not a marketer, and instead his skills lie in communications. So maybe he isn’t aware of some of the thinking that is fundamental to marketing (when it is done properly).

However, he has highlighted that a lot of people in marketing and sales forget about the whole process and focus a lot on the sale – just focus on the steps up to the exchange of cash for product. However, saying the SM isn't about selling stuff It is like saying that the telephone isn’t about selling stuff. That would be true as the telephone it is a communication tool but that would be too narrow a view. The telephone, used skilfully and appropriately with a well thought out strategy, absolutely can sell lots of stuff. Put it in the hands of an Indian telemarketer and you will get lots of pissed off people.

Social media is no different. We’ve all seen the snake oil salesman.

What Stephen’s post did get me thinking about was the buyer decision process. Don’t friggin groan with “here Oyster goes with bloody theory again!” … the theory has much more academic rigour and history behind it than some bloke sitting in is study telling the world how marketing is (that’s not a dig at Stephen by any means. Just some marketing blogs in general)! I’ll be quick on the theory though …

The diagram below shows the 5 stages that a consumer goes through when making a purchase. I disagree with Stephen, using his narrow view of selling as a transaction, that SM isn’t about selling stuff. Totally depends on your business and goals but the underlying point, for me anyway, is about contributing and adding value to the consumer. And that is why I think that it is the 5th stage is where I think that social media has the most potential.

Post-purchase evaluation - Cognitive Dissonanceimage

The last stage is post-purchase evaluation. It is the situation where you have bought something but then have second thoughts about the purchase. It is known as “cognitive dissonance”. It is where you think “maybe I could have got it cheaper”, "maybe I should have kept looking for a better option”, “maybe I shouldn’t have spent that much” “what the hell am I gonna tell my wife?” etc

A lot of marketers forget about this stage but is is just as important as the others. In fact, it is here that brand loyalty can be cemented and re-purchase guaranteed. It can also stop a consumer changing their mind and returning the product (if that is an option).

Marketers need to continue to work after the purchase to reinforce that the consumer has made the right decision and that it fits their needs. It is here that social media can be a seriously dominating force. Here’s an example …

I need a new mountain bike. I went to the shop the other day “just to look” but ended up talking to the salesperson and ended up walking out having put a deposit down on new bike. But I felt guilty that I had made an impulse decision (I was always getting a new bike but hadn’t planned on it that day). It went down like a lead balloon with Mrs Oyster.

My mate also needs a new bike. He’s been talking to lots of shops and looking at lots of bikes and found a cracker. Then I got jealous cause he got a better bike and a better deal than me. So I asked him to ask the bike shop how much we could get off if we bought two bikes together.

Now I am getting a different bike. Purchase lost to shop number 1.

The point is that the bike shop I put a deposit down with has put in zero effort into the post-purchase evaluation stage. Surely the tell tale signs are there because I only put a deposit down (despite having the ability to buy it on the spot if I wanted). In fact they positioned lay-by as a way of making me feel comfortable to committing.

They could have kept the purchase if they had of put some effort into the last stage. They could have collected information such as twitter name, Facebook profile and even email. They could use these to introduce me to their MTB blog or podcast (if they had one, I wouldn't know, haven’t heard from them since) and told me about user reviews and forums for the brand and model I bought. They could have used the channels to make me feel that I had made the right decision. Plus ore and more people have blogs where they can share their experiences, good or bad.

Instead I will get my deposit imageback and get a better deal elsewhere (here’s a pic of my soon to be new bike).

Connecting with me through social media would have also given me the impetus to tell others about my purchase. It is often in this space where your friends and family say “yeah that’s cool, great buy” where you feel you have made the right choice. It can be as simple as them saying “well done on saving $300” (how the hell do they know how much I could have really saved or whether it really is a great purchase?”).

Social media could have got me hook, line and sinker and made me a loyal customer to the shop. It is exactly the thing that could have helped me change my opinion (and others) and helped built awareness.

Do your customers exhibit any tell-tale signs (like only putting down a deposit) where you could use social media to reinforce their decision? Should you be connecting with people more post-purchase by using social media? … and I don’t mean the boring “thanks for picking ABC for all our needs” or just following them on Twitter.

Do you have any great examples of companies that do the post-purchase evaluation stage well in the social media space?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Don’t Worry About The Complaints You Get

Zac Martin over at Pigs Don’t Fly has got some balls. His written recently about being a fire starter and wrote an open letter to the editor of B&T in which he raised some issues that he has (as a customer).

A lot of people got stuck into him about his style and a few even supported him in his approach. However, there are a couple of things that those that commented, including Zac, missed.

The first is that Zac is a customer and he is a customer with a gripe or two (ok, he has plenty :). Regardless of whether people believe his approach is correct or not are missing the point. The point is that he is actually rising his issues. The mere fact that he raises the issues shows that he wants to remain a customer.  Huh? Are you still missing the point? Ok, read carefully …

Think of it the other way around. It is the customers that don’t raise their dissatisfaction and problems that B&T (or any business for that matter) should be worried about. It is those customers that choose to cease their patronage without having a discussion that businesses should be worried about.

You might remember a post a few weeks ago a post I wrote about Fitness First – Can You Force Word-of-Mouth? Well I completed their customer feedback form on their website and pointed them to all the constructive criticism that you guys provided. Additionally, I chose to add some personal comments, away from the eyes on this blog, and they were issues that I had directly with Fitness First and I wanted raise them away from public view and comment.

To date I have had no response. WTF?

No wonder customers like Zac take the tone and the approach he did. Maybe being aggressive is the only way to get a response.

Fitness First, you don’t even have to fix everything I raise. Sometimes just acknowledging that you have received customer feedback and concerns, from a valued client, is enough. You certainly seem to “value” me when a payment goes amiss or my contract is up for renewal. You are keen to talk then aren’t you? What the hell is the point of having the feedback form? Do you only get back to those you agree with? Did it go in the round file?

And then when I walk in you expect me to sell my friends names so that they can join? How about looking after me … the one who is giving you money already? The bucket is leaking – spend time fixing the holes instead of pouring more water into it!

Zac and I are customers who have chosen to take the time to articulate our concerns and try and begin a dialogue with the business. The businesses should be embracing us with open arms. I would be happy with a quick phone call saying “Thanks, we have taken it on board. We can’t promise anything but we really do appreciate your feedback”. I would at least feel valued.

For the record, I actually put in a  good word for some great service I get from one particular staff member – it would be nice to know that you have passed it on. Instead, the silence is deafening.

A complaint or feedback isn’t pure criticism. Customers and businesses are in the relationship together. These interactions are a chance for businesses to connect to their customer on a deep level and a chance to listen.

This leads me to the other thing everyone missed about the post …

Businesses should be using this type of feedback to get an understanding of what their customers want. Those that have read the book Raving Fans, by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles, will get this. If you haven't read the book then get onto it.

Businesses need to listen to what their customers want. Sure they may choose to not do business with some customers but there are some massive, massive, not so subtle hints in what Zac has raised. Daily emails in PDF? Sure one commenter said he didn’t mind it but surely you need to ask the customers?! I’d be willing to bet the majority hate it!

How can you deliver a great service if you have no idea what the customers want? Worse still, when they do try and tell you, wrapped up as a complaint, then you don’t even acknowledge them? (That’s a criticism of Fitness First and not B&T).

In these times I would have thought businesses would have this sorted.


Monday, June 8, 2009

10 Things I Hate About Marketing Blogs

Hate Cartoon 1

I hate marketing blogs that;

  1. Don’t start conversations.
  2. Start conversations but then won’t consider or accept other points of view.
  3. Blog about things that everyone else is blogging about.
  4. Post too often.
  5. Don’t post often enough.
  6. Have bloggers who think they are journalists.
  7. Position social media as “holier than thou” e.g. free speech and having people heard is above the law or the employer because “you can’t stop me!”
  8. Don’t tie their posts to marketing theory.
  9. Create a list for a post when they might be a little dry for ideas :)
  10. No. 10 is up to you. Tell me what you hate about marketing blogs …

Monday, June 1, 2009

Did You Used To Do This At School To Be Cool?

A couple of posts I read earlier today got me thinking about “cool” and “brands”.

The first was Adam Ferrier’s post at Consumer Psychologist, “How Cool Are You?”, which talks about what makes people cool and and how he and team at Naked have built on some earlier work and developed a Facebook application (so you can take a questionnaire and determine how cool you are).

Then Dan Pankraz’s blog talked about Branding Bedrooms in Austria where he discovered that, despite kids living outside big cities, they loved urban streetwear brands and that both boys and girls often ask the staff in shops for stickers so that they can brand their bedrooms with their favourite brands.

Those posts combined to take me back to my school days …

I went to school about 2 hours from the ocean but one of the surrogates for being cool was surf brands - just like the Austrian kids living outside the big cities but still wanting to buy urban streetwear brands. We lived in-land but loved all the surf brands.

The other big thing that was a surrogate for being cool was how you branded your folder and you were only cool if you had a folder which you had covered with loads of surf brand logos. Truth be told we should have been studying but instead we would spend hours scouring our old surfing magazines for logos to cut out from their ads. We would take the logos and stick them on our folder and then apply contact (being so f#%&ing careful not to get bubbles in it!).surf logo folder

It might just be my perception and old memory but you wouldn’t have been caught dead without a great looking surf branded folder and we would often gather round when we noticed one of our mates had created a new folder (extra points if they put some bikini babes on it and the teachers never noticed!).

The thing that struck me today was that, back then when we were such avid fans on brands, the brands did absolutely zero to encourage and fuel this behaviour. Maybe they knew about it, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they weren’t worrying about the kids 2 hours in-land and instead concentrated their efforts on kids near the sea?

I wish I could find a post I read a few months ago that talked about consumers walking a path because my description coming up doesn’t do it justice. The post talked about how it isn't a brand’s job to create a path and try and make people go down it or to lead them in a certain direction. People are already on paths and journeys and as such it is the brands job to join them on their path, to pull in alongside the consumer, and help guide and make the journey more enjoyable (points for whoever can show me where that post is).

So do kids still do this sort of folder stuff? Or did you used to do it yourself?

If kids do still to it then it provides an awesome opportunity for popular brands to fuel this kind of brand love and surrogacy for cool. They could be giving kids the tools to create folders and they could run competitions for best folder design. Or are they doing this already and I am just too far removed from that market and don’t have sight of it? Does anyone have kids in this age group? Enlighten me …

This stuff was all happening before we really had the internet in our homes so maybe the surrogates for cool have shifted to iPhones etc. If so, does anybody have any great examples of how brands are engaging youth? By that I mean not creating events and sites that attract the kids but instead walking the path they are already following e.g. folder design, and getting involved an helping them

Man I wish I still had one of those folders …