Using Marketing Strategy Management To Navigate A Stormy Social Sea
Social Media is nothing new. What’s new is its pervasiveness; a wide sea of social channels for retailers to traverse on a daily basis.
How are retailers expected to navigate the social sea safely?
Let’s head back to the 70’s, and ask ourselves why people bought branded products. Their decision was primarily influenced by the brand’s reputation. Manufacturers would undertake intensive and expensive marketing efforts to convey the message they were steadfast, and would stand behind their products at all costs. Regardless of the product’s quality, the manufacturer would be accountable. Ad agencies provided the marketing spin for products convincing consumers to make purchases based on brand equity.
However products were also sold, to a much lesser extent, by companies that didn’t rely on expensive marketing campaigns to sell their products. They used the ANALOG SOCIAL MEDIA network. Tupperware and Mary Kay built huge businesses based on transparency and discussions amongst individuals. There was no influence by the ad agency spin doctoring a product. Friends were talking to friends and recommending the products in an open and transparent forum.
Social interaction drove the brand equity.
Fast forward to today. Technology has enabled communications between individuals to be interactive, independent of location and almost instantaneous. They use the DIGITAL SOCIAL MEDIA network. Unlike 40 years ago consumers are less dependent on the traditional mass advertising approach. Retailers seized the opportunity and started selling their own private labels. Private labels work because individuals exchange thoughts on products through social media. If the product meets or exceeds a consumer’s expectations, their friends will be informed via social media networks like Facebook or Twitter. Consumers are happy to buy based not only on a friend’s recommendation but by someone who they do not know and lives 1,000 miles away. And it is a geometric scale so the posting will be shared with all of the consumer’s contacts.
Whether you know it or not, you have a social media network. It is your consumers and what they are saying about you.
Marketing departments must continue to manage the traditional channels and find new ways to engage the consumer through social media. This multi-channel approach has implications for the retailer.
The silos of marketing, merchandising, advertising, and digital are slowly disappearing. Instead we see an integrated approach with each group supporting, not competing with each other.
Just as you shouldn’t go sailing without a life jacket & a compass, retailers shouldn’t attempt to tackle social media without a marketing strategy management platform.