Tuesday, November 11, 2008
A Marketer's Dilemma
By Joe Marchese In a world of consumer control, what is the most important thing a marketer can be? It is becoming more and more the norm that people choose not only what commercial messages they will view, but what message they will pass along to their peers. So what is it that marketers must do to be effective in this new reality?
It seems some marketers think the secret to success is to be funny or edgy, in hopes of achieving "viral" status. Still other marketers try to be "engaging" and responsive. Many more marketers think the Holy Grail is to be relevant, in both timing and content. Finally, you have those marketers that want to be giving, most commonly in the form of sweepstakes, loyalty programs and charitable donations/activities.
When you look at this list of characteristics, a list which is not all that different today than it has been in past decades, you notice that many, if not all, of the qualities would be the same one might desire in real-world acquaintance. The biggest problem is that too many marketing programs are built too heavily around one particular quality. But with the proper mix of the previously mentioned characteristics, marketers can achieve what they are really going to need to succeed in the new media reality: social.
It is by no means a coincidence that marketers must take on the property of the medium they wish to enter in order to be successful. Google made better search advertising, because the ads were more aligned with the medium. Meaning that what people want in a search engine is increased relevance, so what worked for marketing in the search medium was increased ad relevance. Television advertising increased in effectiveness as ads were increasingly entertaining, or better produced. Print ads in fashion magazines were increasingly effective as they were became more artistic or fashionable. The list goes on.
Therefore, to be successful in social media, it follows that what marketers must achieve is advertising that's more social. The key to this is balance. In fact, it is much like being a great guest at a cocktail party. You want to be funny, but not so funny that you lose your message. You want to be responsive, but only when people are talking to you, or you have something very relevant to say. You want to give something back to the conversation, and you always want to bring something to the party (a bottle of wine works). You also want to be (new overused buzz-word alert) authentic, because people can usually smell a liar, and if not, other party guest will alert them to who's lying.
So maybe all it take to be a marketer in the 2000s is watching a couple of teen movies and just being yourself. If "yourself" isn't someone that is going to get invited to the parties -- well, then you have a bigger problem. Maybe it isn't a dilemma for marketers at all, but rather just a process of growing up. But try telling a high-schooler that being social isn't hard; also, I don't know if we could even consider social marketing to be in its teen years just yet.
What do you think?
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Joe Marchese is President of socialvibe.
Online Spin for Tuesday, November 11, 2008: