Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Redefining "Full" in Full-Service

There's an age old saying which applies very well to advertising. "Out of sight, out of mind." Back in the days of TV dominated reach and frequency, this principle ruled the lives of media planners for decades. Of course, today's metrics have changed somewhat, but the principle hasn't. If you're not in sight or not within an ear shot, you're likely to be forgotten. You need to be front and center in the minds of your partners or consumers. But the way you go about that is certainly changing and what you do when you get there, makes all the difference. Cutting through the clutter is a nice cliche, but doesn't (if you'll pardon another) cut the mustard anymore.

Through traditional and social media channels, brands can now interact in more meaningful ways that relate relevantly within personal, social and cultural engagement in order to cultivate advocacy and loyalty. It's an integrated approach that keeps you in the conversation, and keeps your footprint fresh. How you measure that, is another discussion for another time. But one thing is certain. All forms and channels of marketing and advertising must be equally as important or equally validated if full-service agencies are to truly serve their clients effectively.

Despite claims to the contrary, traditional is not dead, and social media is not a fad. It's here to stay, and has already revolutionized the industry. Be wary of any consultant or expert who tells you there is only one way to do things. There isn't. All need to work together for the good of your brand; transparency and credibility, forming and connecting to communities of influence, and nurturing relationships built on mutual trust.

What we need to watch for and be mindful of going forward however, is that the research is still in flux because our society is in flux and students of culture are constantly aware of it. Some of the findings are somewhat counterintuitive because we continue to see a shift in the way people live their lives, the evolution of habits, values, and priorities, etc. But the human mind still seems to work and respond predictably in different ways to different stimuli, and knowing this vital aspect of psychology will go far in helping you get the most out of your marketing mix and creative strategy. For instance, a message received through passive or relaxed viewing of a television spot is received quite differently than one competing for the attention of someone actively engaged online, or driving distractedly past a billboard in rush hour traffic for that matter.

To illustrate my point, many advertisers are shifting more and more of their budgets to digital media yet still feel they don’t have a handle on advertising in a digital context. Hence, all the experimentation as many are learning what works and what doesn't in our new socially mediated world. But there's one guideline which cannot be overstated. Choose your advertising medium mix based on its strength in relationship to your purpose and what you're trying to accomplish. Remember everyone gets to tell your story now, so it takes the right mix to clearly articulate your brand, it's promise, product offering, and what the customer can consistently expect to experience by buying into that story, and investing in a relationship with you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Social Soliciting Prohibited?

I'm not that old, but old enough to remember when people used to hang signs outside the front door of their business or home that read "No Soliciting". Actually some still do, but many sales people have already gotten the message. Soliciting is not socially acceptable anymore. Well, maybe not in the physical world. In the digital world however, we see a far different standard, albeit for now. Yet if history is any indicator, we may need to be careful. So far though, marketers continue to use every available avenue online to increase their business or brand recognition efforts like never before. It's becoming blatantly obvious and social marketing is not only gaining ground, but threatening to completely overshadow traditional forms of marketing and advertising. In fact, some agencies have already abandoned traditional in favor of digital altogether.

This is because social or online media offers something that traditional media doesn't, and it's exactly what sales people need in order to survive, but have been desperately deprived of in years past. It's about interaction. Period. The internet allows businesses to interact with customers in ways they have not been able to in a long time. And like an alcoholic who hasn't had a drink in awhile, many are impulsively overdoing it in ways that are irresponsible and self-indulgent. I mean some have focused their entire advertising around the latest popular social media channel, offering to reward you or enter you into a contest if you like them on Facebook. As if Facebook or Twitter for that matter, was the end-all, be-all strategy for success.

Most people are wising up to it too, and research shows it. If you're not engaging customers in ways that are relevant to them, than you are nothing more than another distraction or uninvited intruder vying to break into their world.

Yeah, plenty of us tweet, blog, digg, facebook, or whatever. But for the most part, people have a life outside of their social networks, though more and more companies act like you don't sometimes, and therefore, put their credibility in jeopardy by just jumping on the bandwagon, because this is what's hot right now. Sure I get it. But these cookie cutter copycats are mere novices just muddying up the waters.

"Experts" know that social media is not a one-size fits all formula. Each company has different goals and objectives, and what works for one client might not for another. Just ask Burger King or Pepsi. Simply applying a process over-and-over, may in the long run, serve only to desensitize and annoy people, and like the days of pop-ups and pop-unders, force advertisers to once again reorganize and rethink how to best get your attention and support their bottom line: business performance and thus ROI. Great brands understand the pros and cons and make thoughtful approaches to connect with customers and partners in a credible and integrated way. Sometimes that means not doing any social media at all; (God forbid), or doing so under the radar so that at least in the digital world, they never overstay their welcome.