Social Technologies Trend 2

How do we execute the social technologies to engage with our customers? Here are some ways to do it.

1) Create a viral video. Blendtec has created a viral video on how its blenders can blend almost anything. Watch them in Youtube. This is the best method to generate awareness online.

2) Engage in social networking sites such as Facebook. Create a personality there for your brand, and communicate with your consumers. Ernst and Young created a Facebook personality to connect with fresh graduates that are potential employees. Adidas created personality profiling to segment consumers to its different shoes, and place them into ‘teams’ online. This generates lots of word of mouth and 2-way communication with your customers.

3) Write blogs to engage your customers. Also read others’ blogs related to your products or services to get a better understanding of your consumers. You can also help to educate consumers on how to use your products, especially complex ones.

4) Create a community to engage your consumers. P&G set up beinggirl.com to listen and reply to young girls’ questions and fears.

Costs mainly go to content production, brand monitoring services and IT platforms. Benefits come from PR values generated from blogs, and reduced calls for support. It allows companies to research on their companies at a low cost. This is followed by word of mouth and advertising value from traffic generated.

Instead of traditional brand equity measures, also measure engagement: how consumers navigate your websites, comments on your blogs, amount of buzz and sentiments on your products.

Social Technologies Trend 1

Young men are more active in social technologies, maybe because it deals with technology and science. They are most likely to blogs and their own websites, and dabble in uploading videos and audios online. They are also keen to post ratings on products online, and participate in forum discussions. They are familiar with RSS feeds and tagging.

Young women comes in on par with young men in social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.

On a whole, young people (age 30 or less) are more likely to be actively online and involved in social technologies.

Businesses are also getting more involved online. They are doing research by listening to consumers talk about their products in forums. They are doing marketing by facilitating word of mouth awareness for your products to your consumers’ network of friends. These consumers can help sell your products to others.

Businesses also engage consumers online to support each other in using their products, and also to get new ideas for new product launches, or service improvements.

The Danger of Too Many Choices

There was a paper published in December 2000 by professors from Columbia and Stanford University. It appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In this paper, the professors conducted a very interesting experiment. They set up sample booths for jams at a grocery store.

The split was to have 24 different jams at one period of time, and 6 types of jam at another period of time. The 24 jams attracted more people, but less purchase. The one with 6 jams had 10X more purchase among the passers by who tried the samples.

Godiva chocolate brand made another interesting experiment. Consumers were asked to sample chocolates from a stall with 30 flavours of chocolate. The split was to have another stall with only 6 flavours of chocolate. The stall with less choices of chocolates produced more satisfaction among the consumers there. Consumers enjoyed themselves less in the stall with 30 flavours.

Too many choices produce uncertainties, which causes them to feel dissatisfied.

Shopper Marketing

Often we think that offering price offs and discounts will get consumers into the store and increase sales and profits for manufacturers and retailers. A study from the book ‘Inside the Mind of the Shopper’ by Herb Sorensen proved otherwise.

Herb said that reduction in the number of SKUs in the store, and better and simpler navigation in the store will help to improve sales. Pricing is important at times, but not the most important factor in the consumers’ consideration. Moreover, with so many stores and supermarkets opening everywhere, consumers can get to a store easily. They can get their stuffs easily, so they usually do quick store visits instead of one, huge purchase of many items. So optimal placement is more important than product pricing. Cut down on your weaker SKUs. Use your packaging and colorful imagery ads in store.

Eye level focus is 3 to 5 feet in distance, and shoulder to waist shelves are prime spaces. Gondola ends increase sales. Shoppers read little, but shelf edge is the best communication area. Shoppers respond to shapes, colors and images better in store.

The best exposure to consumers belong to gondola ends, free standing floor stands, display bins, floor ads and free standing ads or cutouts.

Help the customers to select the right products easily from your brand. Label them clearly and in big displays. This will help to reduce their shopping angst, and save them time.

Updated Marketing Model for 21st Century (Part 3)

This model is about improving the lives of the user, its surrounding people and loved ones, as well as the world at large. Its the higher aspirations in each of us.

Clif bars helped marathoners with pacer boards in races. This is a welcomed help for the runners. Free marathon information kits are freely given out, with advice from top marathoners. An online portal was created to further educate and help runners in their training and progress.

Nike created Nike+, a tool for consumers to measure and record their running progress, and to share their data with a community of like minded people.

Kraft created Kraftfoods.com to help consumers cook, pick recipes, and help other cooking enthusiasts in their quests.

A good idea for an environmentally friendly company will be to sponsor car pool portals. This portal can help interested consumers to seek like minded people to carpool with. Not hard selling, but consumers will appreciate the brand for the ‘green’ efforts.

Establish trust in brand: Send samples to potential consumers and opinion leaders. Mr. Clean came up with a residueless car cleaning tool. However, consumers are jaded with low quality offerings with overpromised claims in the market. Hence, to establish trust, Mr. Clean sent samples to important forums, clubs and blogs for their authoritative opinions.

Point of market entry consumers offer a lifetime of purchase for your brand. Gillette has done this by offering free razors for men enrolling for the army, or for conscription.

Updated Marketing Model for 21st Century (Part 2)

This one is about creating entertaining experiences that are good enough to go viral. Its now how many people has seen your ad, but rather how many people engages with your ad or brand. They can be cheap to produce, but you must always remember to integrate your brand inside the tool. Here are some ways to go about doing it:

1) Create short videos: Brandtec created short videos on the many different things it can blend on Youtube.com. This was apparently viral enough to reach over 9 million viewers for some of its videos. Yup, blandtec sells blenders.

Healthy Choice brand of food created short improv comedy videos. They are short enough for lunch time viewing by office workers.

2) Short games. Wrigley has created many short games online for people to play.

3) Consumer participation in commercials and products design. Pringles created a contest for its consumers to upload original commercials.

The key things to remember about participatory engagements are to make them simple to participate, and easy to share with their friends. Include contests and votings, and you will be a winner.

Updated Marketing Model for 21st Century (Part 1)

With all that clutter of advertising, we wonder if traditional marketing model still works. Yes, the broad strategies still do, but it’s the how that we need to re-examine. My friend told me she will do something else to avoid watching ads on TV. Another told me she systematically avoid looking at all ads when reading the newspapers. Are we fighting a losing battle in getting consumers’ attention?

We need to create more advertising that consumers engage with, not just ‘browse through’, or ‘somewhat notice’. Burger King engaged youths with its highly entertaining ‘Subservient Chicken’ online ad. It also has product placements in video games, a partnership with Blitz Entertainment. Marketing needs to be more consumer oriented, and help improve their lives in larger ways. Dove did that by redefining beauty.

Marketing in the modern age needs to provide good solutions at the bare minimum. Here are some ways to do that:

1) Give sampling. General Mills allowed its consumers to get its samples easily, and taste the product before buying.

2) Loyalty programs that are easy to understand and execute, and rewards the regular, heavy consumption consumers. General Mills give free crockeries with enough purchases of its products, while Kroger gives discounts and newsletters to delight its regular customers.

3) Give free educational information. A stock market company gives weekly opinions and recommendations in the national papers.

4) Free programs for interest groups. E.g. those needing medical attention can look to Anthem for free newsletters, information and on-call experts online to answer their questions.

5) Help in choosing the right products. Olay skincare established a website where consumers can easily choose the right products, and view other consumers’ reviews and sharing of their skin care progress online. Bestsellers list help to make easy purchase decisions.

6) Help consumers to avoid the problem in the first place. Tylenol cures headache, but its website offers help on avoiding headaches. Yes, people may buy less Tylenol, but the brand connections and trusts increase.

Marketing to Women Effectively

Have good designs for your products. One good example is the method range of household products. They not only clean well, but also decorates the house.

Support a good cause, such as Innocent drinks in UK supporting the cause of giving clothings to the homeless.

Other marketing techniques that work with women: storytelling, testimonies, before and after comparisons, humour, milestone references such as anniversaries and birthdays, women as heroes and praise them as smart.

Let women share the word easily. Give them information that they can write about in their blogs or emails to their friends.

Line Extensions Trap

I have been with several large consumer product companies. Line extensions are part and parcel of the need to increase sales constantly. However, be very careful that you don’t over extend and lose the long term branding your brand has. How to check? If your brand does not stand clearly for a narrow product type, you may be overextending your brand. E.g. Scotts refer to tissues, but what kind? Baby wipes, towels, tissues, or diapers?

How to check whether or not to line extend?
1) If extension creates potentially lots of sales, or with huge ad budget, is a breakthrough product, give it a new brand name.
2) Line extend in a cluttered category. The product needs some help.
3) Retail packaged products should have its own name, as consumers need a clear brand to simplify purchases.

Positioning exists in the mind, not in the product.

Oversimplify

In our world of over communication, the best thing to do is… still communicate, but oversimplify the message. With so much information, consumers are getting impatient to wade through all the info to reach the underlying message. Err on the side of over simplification.

One way is to simplify the message that your competitors are using. If they are saying ‘The use of cutting edge technology to shield off all the UV rays to protect your epidermis from aging…’, you say ‘Protect your youth with the highest ever sun protection’. Enough said.

Of course, to have impact, be the first to say the simplified message. Always be the first. The market favours the first and the best, not the second.

There was an article that said to focus on your consumers, and they will beat a path to your door. Yes, but I think we should focus on our competitors as well. Especially those bigger than us. They define the category. They set the rules. Consumers know these rules. You have to communicate with regards to the rules. You can extend from there, be totally opposite, compare, or look at it from a different perspective. Use your competitors as the setting to launch your own communication. Like product A is best in US, product B is best in UK, but your product is most used by the rich.

You will survive well if you look for niches, or different perspectives to consumers needs, rather than having a head on clash with the big leaders. You are like a deer caught in a truck’s headlight if you do so. You know who will win.

Always give clear, simply communicated values to your consumers. Even if you are a leader, be humble. No need to shout you are #1. Even if you do, please do let consumers know why you are so.