Once upon a time consumers identified with brands and were less willing to take a chance on a similar – or identical – product from a new brand. It was once almost impossible to convince a loyal Buick owner to give a Toyota car a chance, even with a substantially lower sticker price. These days, however, consumers tend to focus on finding a deal. “It doesn’t matter if XYZ Company makes it, just throw in that 20 percent discount and I’ll take it” is the mentality of today’s average consumer. While the bottom line rules, there is still a place for establishing brand loyalty with both new and traditional marketing methods.
Using Social Media as an Effective Communication Tool
Just like hardcover and paperback books aren’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon, traditional marketing will always have a place along newer marketing platforms such as social media. In fact, SM can be a highly effective communication tool for brands when it comes to benefits such as customer service and making a connection with potential customers. SM can help with relationship issues by engaging with customers and potential customers in real-time. This certainly helps when there is an issue that needs to be addressed before it spreads like wildfire in cyberspace. SM also helps to manage comments and feedback, but that’s another topic for another time.
Forming a Relationship Takes Some Effort
According to a Harvard Business Review study, just 23 percent of consumers said they had a relationship with a brand. Today, the term “relationship” is reserved for friends, family and maybe a handful of Twitter followers or Facebook friends. The attitude of the average consumer is that “it’s just a brand.” It’s more like “show me a good deal and we’ll talk.” Even brands that try to be hip and solicit “likes” and “followers” by the thousands don’t always earn loyalty. Somebody who “likes” Coke may be sitting there sipping a Pepsi with no guilt at all.
In efforts to connect with customers, some brands may be going overboard. Without realizing it, some marketers may come across as that annoying “friend” that’s trying too hard. Maybe you’re running all kind of blogs and you have a Facebook page and Twitter account and you just added a Pinterest account. You’re sending “reminder” emails and you’re adding hip graphics to your site. You’re posting constant updates and videos. You’re tweeting like crazy. In the end, you may have reduced your brand appeal rather than enhancing it.
Many brands are dropping a large portion of their marketing budgets on SM with the misguided notion that it is the key to connecting with consumers today. In reality, SM has its advantages – but it’s not a substitute for the “four Ps” of marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. SM has it’s place. It’s just a matter of finding a balance. SM marketing is meant to be an additional marketing tool – not the Holy Grail of marketing. Traditional marketing isn’t about technology, it’s about technique. Brand loyalty may not be a priority today, but it is still possible to establish brand recognition. The key to 21st century marketing is finding the right balance between traditional marketing efforts and SM marketing. It’s not an impossible goal once you take social media off that pedestal.