The role of tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing is chang­ing fast

Finweek English Edition - - Column -

SO­CIAL me­dia plat­forms are fun­da­men­tally chang­ing the fun­nel con­cept of tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing, where peo­ple are pulled through the dif­fer­ent pro­cesses from aware­ness to pur­chas­ing and even­tu­ally loyal re­pur­chas­ing.

“What we’re now see­ing is the rise of the so­cial me­dia, en­abling more di­verse and in­tri­cate di­a­logue at ev­ery stage of the mar­ket­ing process,” says James McLaren, se­nior man­ager at the global man­age­ment con­sult­ing, technology ser­vices and out­sourc­ing com­pany Ac­cen­ture.

Look­ing at the role of so­cial cus­tomer re­la­tions man­age­ment (CRM) in busi­ness dur­ing the CNBC busi­ness pro­gramme, Africa’s Board­room, McLaren stressed the need for com­pa­nies to adapt ac­cord­ingly. “ The bot­tom line is that it’s now a two-way con­ver­sa­tion, forc­ing com­pa­nies to al­ter the ways they were tra­di­tion­ally in­ter­act­ing with their cus­tomers.”

Yoav Tchelet, a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strate­gist, agrees that the na­ture of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion has changed dra­mat­i­cally with the ex­pan­sion of the In­ter­net and es­pe­cially the in­tro­duc­tion of so­cial me­dia plat­forms like Face­book, YouTube and Twit­ter. “Much of the talk­ing in­volves brands and ex­pe­ri­ences, in­ter­act­ing with friends and fam­ily.”

Mini SA has been one of the pi­o­neers in mov­ing its mar­ket­ing on to these so­cial plat­forms. “We have ap­proached it from two an­gles,” says Karen Valle, GM of Mini SA. “We first have our brand am­bas­sadors, very ac­tive on so­cial net­works and pro­vid­ing a strong mes­sage in favour of our brand with­out hav­ing to prompt them to do so. We also have our new cus­tomers, with the po­ten­tial to be­come brand am­bas­sadors cre­at­ing aware­ness of and in­ter­est in Mini.”

Com­ment­ing on the ex­tent of the mar­ket­ing value for Mini, Valle says: “It’s mas­sive: Mini spends a rel­a­tively small amount on mar­ket­ing the brand, yet through our so­cial net­work ex­po­sure we get an in­or­di­nate amount of feed­back.”

The Soc­cer World Cup eu­pho­ria is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple, says Valle. “Mini got 1,2m im­pres­sions on the so­cial plat­forms dur­ing the World Cup. If we had to spend mar­ket­ing money to meet the ex­po­sure we had, it would have been ex­or­bi­tant.”

But how should com­pa­nies go about man­ag­ing so­cial CRM op­ti­mally?

“Mar­keters’ in­flu­ence on so­cial net­works is limited,” says Tchelet. “It’s not a tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing chan­nel where you can push your mes­sage on to cus­tomers, but you have to be part of the con­ver­sa­tion about your brand and try to di­rect peo­ple to­wards your brand. At the end of the day the so­cial net­work users are form­ing their own opin­ion and com­mu­ni­cat­ing the brand pos­i­tively or neg­a­tively. The key here is to be sub­tly in­volved in the con­ver­sa­tion and to di­rect the con­ver­sa­tion with­out out­wardly in­flu­enc­ing it too much. It’s all about play­ing a sup­port­ive role.”

Al­though it’s a dif­fi­cult process to con­trol, McLaren says, a good brand or mes­sage gets aug­mented by your com­mu­nity in the same way a bad ex­pe­ri­ence does.

Valle says: “ The amaz­ing thing is that if you have a strong com­mu­nity pas­sion­ate about your brand, it will carry the con­ver­sa­tion for­ward for you. This com­mu­nity will ac­tu­ally ar­gue on be­half of the brand

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