With thoughts on what this means for offline media and planning
I wonder how many of today’s online marketers, and particularly the evangelistsÂ inÂ Social, have read Permission Marketing by Seth GodinÂ (1999) or The Engaged Customer by Hans Peter Brondmo (2002).Â Why?Â Because these two books tell you why Interactive is different, explain how it is different, and provide the background you need to be successful at it.Â For example, they explain how Social works before Social even existed in its current form.
How could these books predict the current climate?Â Because “Social” -Â the Interactive behavior and psychology that drives it -Â is what happens when you create Interactivity.Â These ideas are fundamental to Interactivity, they exist regardless of the tools to enable them.
Social, the tools and applications, are simplyÂ software iterations around these fundamentals.Â SoftwareÂ continues to morph and evolve.Â But the emotions and behavior drivingÂ today’s Social activityÂ are fundamentally no different from the emotions and behavior that drove the proper use of interactivityÂ for MarketingÂ in CompuServe or discussion boards or e-mail discussion lists.Â Community.Â Sharing.Â The rulesÂ and etiquette of good Interactive relationships.
What I’ve come to realize after a lot of discussions and thoughtÂ is this:
Hardly anyone understood the fundamentals of Interactivity from a Marketing perspectiveÂ in 1999, despite a lot of input from people like Godin & BrondmoÂ or me withÂ my backgroundÂ in pre-online interactive.
Marketers andÂ enablers like AgenciesÂ simply imported all their offline, Broadcast, one-way, “shouting” ideas to the web.Â Despite the two-way, listening and sharingÂ nature fundamental toÂ an Interactive relationship, a relationship that thrives on relevance,Â what techniques became the mostÂ prevalent for online communication?
Irrelevant, barely targeted Display advertising andÂ e-mail “blasting”
Because of this, the current Social movement seems like a Revolution to manyÂ people involved, a brand new thing.Â But fundamentally, it’s not a brand new thing.Â No, the current Social movement is simply about a lotÂ of people realizingÂ those beforeÂ themÂ had Interactive wrong from theÂ beginning, and now the next genÂ is trying to fix that.
For recognizing this situation, and getting people toÂ do something about it, we should beÂ grateful toÂ the current Social movement.Â Â Â
However, let’s hope this generation of SocialsÂ doesn’t make the same mistakesÂ over again, if by chance they still don’tÂ understand why Interactive is different from a Business perspective.Â Â Â And just to be clear, I’m not commenting on theÂ personal productivity or enjoyment people get from using Social tools, orÂ use of these toolsÂ forÂ marketing Social-specific products.Â What I am commenting on is the value of these environments from aÂ broad Marketing perspective.
Take Social business models based on Display ads, for example.Â There’s that problem with fundamentals again.Â Or Social as a “mass media” modelÂ when smaller means more relevant, or if mass isÂ important to the model (?), ignorance of Search as the Interactive enabler of scale.Â Software, not business, often still rules the web.
Recently, more people than ever have used the word Strategy in their writings on Social (example).Â IfÂ one really means Strategy (a whole other discussion, a Tool or Channel is not a Strategy) then that’s a good thing, because it means people are moving to the next step after this realization they’re notÂ using Interactive optimally.
There isÂ aÂ larger idea at work here for those interested, one that affects Offline as well.Â It manifests in ideas like “customer centric” and “authentic” and “relevant” but is fundamentally about the nature of Brand morphing from an “image or feeling” to an “experience”, which I haveÂ covered in depth before here.
In other words, what you “say” about your BrandÂ carries a lot less weight thanÂ what you do –Â theÂ experienceÂ surrrounding Brand -Â and how you react to problems with your Brand, ifÂ any.Â
Said another way,Â (and I mean this from a media and planning perspective, not as some kind of a Tactical war cry) the web, enabled by these new Social tools,Â is now able to amplify word of mouth to the point where the weightÂ (TRP’s) of Social Content can rival any media weightÂ you can buy against it.Â ThisÂ structural change is largely due to word of mouth being a behavioral segment and media weightÂ beingÂ a demographic construct;Â WOM is much more targeted to end product users,Â so more efficient than any media you could possiblyÂ buy.
This doesn’t mean the “customer is in control”,Â it meansÂ customers can take control if you give it to them.Â This choice is literally yours.
AreÂ WOM and Social over-hyped?Â Sure.Â I’m just trying to pointÂ to a tangible, plannable, industry standard reason you might want to start caring about Social beyond the breathless BS.Â Social willÂ not be a successful “media” in terms ofÂ non-Social Display Advertising (search-driven adsÂ might work) and should not be treated like media, it just is what it is – relevant Content thatÂ will be spidered and Searched.Â
ButÂ SocialÂ can haveÂ a lot of Public Relations power and you can create influenceÂ through planning -Â an Evolution, not a Revolution.Â Unless your product or company is Social, if you want to “do something” about Social, you might want to start with an analysis of Â Customer Service.Â Then, once you know what you will be likely to run into, and having a plan for acting on or reacting to the community, startÂ the conversation.
Does the GRP-matchingÂ potentialÂ of SocialÂ Content mean the end of traditional media and Brand campaigns?Â Of course not.Â WhatÂ these changes, including the rise of Social,Â do implyÂ are:
1.Â Â A further specialization of media to task ifÂ you want to increase spend effectiveness and Optimize the Marketing ecosystem, and
2.Â The expansion of what Marketing people could (should?) contribute toÂ a Brand beyond “Advertising” campaigns – call itÂ Service Empathy
The function, and therefore the content of Brand / mass advertising,Â needs to recognize much of Interest and Desire will often come from the web, andÂ mass mediaÂ advertising should facilitate this.Â
Some Brands are actually doing a good job with this right now, but for the most part, the efforts tying the Awareness of mass campaigns to Interest and Desire on the web areÂ weak.Â If you’re looking for an offline analogy, the direct integration of TV and Magazine campaigns is a similar idea functionally.
At the same time, efforts to generate Awareness on the web through Display AdvertisingÂ should be evaluated andÂ potentiallyÂ reallocated towardsÂ creating Interest and Desire.Â TheseÂ are the jobsÂ the web does most efficiently dollar for dollar -Â not Awareness.
AwarenessÂ though GRP’s,Â Interest through Search, Desire though Content,Â Social or otherwise.Â Each to the job it does most efficiently.
“Service” in a broad sense is nowÂ more a part of Brand than ever.Â Some companies in CPG get this, andÂ since a “relationship” or Service is a stretch in their world,Â are doing a great job reinventing Service for themselves at the point of use – Design and Packaging.Â You also often seeÂ companies working very hard on Usability, including efforts likeÂ re-writingÂ instruction manuals from product speak to user speak.
The challengeÂ with this Path is Institutional – how to we get Marketing more involved with Design, Usability, and Service?Â What kind of people are required?Â How are budgets allocated?Â For example, if you thought improving Service could deliver more bottom-line impact than increased Awareness, how would you go about shifting Marketing budgets and people towards addressing Service?
Conclusions and Action Steps
Some of you might choose toÂ name the general idea above Integrated Marketing, and that’s fine with me, thoughÂ to me Integration is simply the executionalÂ endÂ of it.Â I prefer to think ofÂ this approachÂ asÂ theÂ more structured and accountableÂ Strategy known as Relationship Marketing (RM), becauseÂ RM requires an InteractiveÂ planÂ for all communications, and is very sensitive to Service issues as integralÂ to the Brand.
If you’re the kind of person whoÂ is more comfortable with a Strategic Model you can use to build outÂ this idea for your company, see Framework for Engagement.Â If you’re more of a Tactical thinker, an executional mapÂ I have found useful – online and offline – is to think in terms of Marketing Bands.
Comments on the above?Â I’m not really asking you toÂ commentÂ on my solution (RM),Â though please feel free to.Â Rather, I think it would be more helpful to the widest audience to discussÂ myÂ description of the situation.Â Have I managed to integrateÂ all of the chaos going on in Marketing right now in a way that makes sense to you?Â Â Â Where am I right,Â wrong, orÂ misdirected?