Sunday, February 19, 2012

Did Online Marketing and Social Media Change 4 P’s of Marketing?

All MBA students, marketers, advertisers are taught the 4 (important) P’s of marketing. Invented in 1960s, these P’s have formed integral part of marketing education since then. All elaborate marketing plans for brands and businesses are (or were?) based on Price, Promotion,  Place and Product.

But, with the growing influence of social media and online marketing, have these 4, well at least 3, P’s of marketing changed? Let’s look at each of those in this light:

This P of marketing says that you should price your products or services competitively across distribution channels. But do you really think you can do that when there are so many deal sites and comparison sites? 

Today, price is one of the major factors because of which consumers join social media sites – especially in case of travel. Are companies not forced to let the market decide the price?

Additionally, with Internet, mobiles, social media, it has become very easy for consumers to identify inconsistency in pricing if you have introduced any. This can be very dangerous for the brand image because consumers will immediately find that out and even worse, talk about that more openly and to a wider audience. 

So Price can rarely be of marketing advantage.

With rising costs of traditional advertising and lack of ways for measuring effectiveness, many companies are turning away from costly advertising media like TV commercials or billboards. In past as well, many brands have succeeded without costly advertising and marketing.

For example: With its umbrella marketing strategy, Amul spends only around 1% of turnover for marketing. 

When around 3.5% of revenue is being spent on advertising by fashion retailers, the popular Zara brand spends just 0.3%!

Ferrari, the Italian sports car manufacturer does not spend a single penny on advertising space. They rely completely on special exclusive events, word of mouth and of course social media as their marketing weapons.

Google started advertising only recently and Facebook also did not reach the valuation to the tune of $100B with advertising.

But, with Internet and social media, word of mouth and forming a close connection with customers and users seem to be the key to promotion. Conventional promotion mechanisms are no more being banked on when the world has become such a smaller and well connected place with Internet.

Does place really matter in the Internet age? With so many online shopping sites, eCommerce sites, reviews and social shopping sites, aren’t consumers going on web for shopping? Most of the large stores like Shoppers Stop also have special offers for online buyers.

I think, therefore, the ‘place’ parameter has seized to have significant place in the strategic marketing planning.

So we are left with last P –Product. ‘Product’ definitely has not have changed. No matter what you use for promotion, what price you keep and where you sell it – you got to have a great product.

Yes, but one thing has changed. In this age of social communication and connection, you have to not only make products that meet the needs of consumers but also make them newsworthy. Today the verdict about product on social media reaches the consumer before the company’s advertisement. So make sure your product delivers the value beyond the expectations of the consumer.

Users did not want an iPad until it was built but now they wonder how they lived without it for so many years. The key here is building great products, newsworthy products and enjoyable user experiences. 

I think Kotler’s conclusion “The best way to hold customers is to constantly figure out how to give them more for less.” holds very true – even today! : - )  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Save Your Content From Failing

Creating great content is not easy. It requires real efforts, knowledge, domain understanding and lot of dedication. A well written and executed content can build a lot of credibility for your brand. By content I mean the content in various forms such as a blog article, a presentation, a video, a whitepaper, a brochure or even a website.

Here are some of the reasons because of which, according to me, content can fail:

#1: Multiple Point of Views
Just as too many cooks spoil the broth, too many viewpoints can make a great piece of content highly non-useful. Your content needs to convey ONE strong message. It should not confuse the reader. Present one viewpoint and provide supporting material for the same. Multiple viewpoints will showcase your lack of understanding, as a writer, of the subject matter.

#2: No Proper Targeting
Of course you are writing for the audience. But who is your audience? Identify and zero in on whom are you targeting. That will help you address the needs, sentiments, emotions, understanding and knowledge of the audiences. You will be able to use THEIR language and that will make them connect and engage with your content and break the barriers. Writing for too broad an audience is not going to help.

#3: No Good Title
The title is the ‘first impression’. A well-written title will attract the readers to read your content and a poorly written title can make them ignore it. Make sure that you provide a very concise, specific, appealing and attention grabbing title to your content. It should convey the essence of the complete material and should convey what the content is going to present. Many a times, writers put up a fancy title just to attract readers but the real content is completely disconnected with the title. This is a fail strategy. Your title MUST be in sync with the content. Avoid making it too long or two short. Definitely don’t use non-standard abbreviations.  

#4: Spelling and Grammar Mistakes
Great idea, great content and great viewpoints – everything can fail if your content has spelling and grammar mistakes. I personally get put off by such content, no matter how interesting the topic is. I have seen commonly made mistakes with ‘it’s Vs its’, ‘affect Vs effect’, ‘Your Vs You’re’. Very simple things but make a huge impact. Please do pay special attention to these finer details before you finalize your copy.

#5: Long, Complex and Forgetting Content 
Many think that if the content sounds complex, it is going to win the hearts of the readers. Wrong. It is often seen that content which is simple to understand and comprehend and is interactive is more appreciated than long and forgetting content. Don’t be aloof. Make sure that you ‘converse’ with your readers through your content.

#6: No Promotion or Marketing Plan
What’s the use if your content is kept under the wraps and not promoted well? Only you will know that it is a great piece.  Go all about promoting it properly through appropriate channels. Gone are the days when businesses used to say ‘If I have built this great thing, people will come’. Today, in this age of information overload, appropriate promotion is essential

#7: Not Easy to Socially Share
Don’t make your content socially shy. Make is easy to share. You can’t reach out to all. If someone has liked your content, make it easy for that person to share the knowledge. Make life easy for them and encourage sharing. Social media plugins are extremely easy to integrate and create huge impact.

Hope this comes as a easy checklist for you next time you create any content. Have any more suggestions? Please add.

Happy Writing!