3.22.2011

Marketing 2.0

Consumers see so many countless advertisements in a given day, in a given hour, in a given minute, that they have tuned out. Traditional advertisements no longer hold the power that they once did. Advertising used to be a very simple process: create a television or radio spot or a print ad and run it as much as your budget would allow. These days that's a good way to waste your entire marketing budget without much return (at least in relation to the investment).
 
The effectiveness of these traditional media outlets has dwindled. Tivo and DVR have drastically reduced the value of television ads, satellite radio and iPods have decreased the number of people listening to radio, and the internet has significantly decreased magazine and newspaper readership. It is becoming increasingly easy for the general public to avoid traditional advertisements altogether. And other, more unavoidable ads such as billboards, product placement, etc. are often simply ignored by the tuned-out public. Even online banner ads, which briefly looked like the future of advertising, are generally seen as a nuisance and disregarded. If a consumer feels they are being sold, they will pay no attention to the proposition. "Salesperson" has become a dirty word. This has forced the marketing industry to develop new and more innovative methods of reaching potential customers. 

Television, radio and print aren't going anywhere for awhile, but these channels now have some new media counterparts that, if used correctly, are much more effective for maximizing a company's return on their marketing investment. This is the advent of Marketing 2.0. Social media, search engine optimization and pay-per-click search engine advertising are just a few of the new outlets that marketing professionals are now utilizing with measurable success.
 
To stand out from the clutter, companies need to earn a consumer's attention. You can't force yourself into their world. The consumer needs to want to interact with your company. They don't want their daily routine to be interrupted by ads; they want to choose when, where and how they interact with companies and which companies that they engage with at all. Your interactions with customers and potential customers need to be a mutual decision. Tactics like SEO and pay-per-click enable marketers to reach potential customers when they want to be reached, but the company must still offer something of interest. The goal of a marketer is to give potential customers a value proposition that makes them want to interact with your company. If they don't want to interact with you, if the consumer doesn't perceive some value in your offer, then your marketing message is already dead in the water.
 
Earning a customer's attention is the hardest part. Once you've gotten a piece of their mind share, the sale should be easy. However, the sale should not be the end of your interaction with the customer. If it is, then it's a lost opportunity.
 
A big part of Marketing 2.0 is relationship building. Let's call it "relationship marketing". Invest the customer, not just financially but emotionally. Forge a personal connection between your brand and the customer. If utilized correctly, social media is especially conducive to this type of arrangement. If someone follows your company's Twitter account or becomes a fan of your Facebook page, they have opened the door for interaction. You are no longer a nuisance to them; they have given you permission to connect with them on their own turf. However, don't abuse this position. Don't flood their social networks with blatantly self-promotional posts and status updates. Although they have let you into their world, that privilege is tenuous. Don't forget that this is a relationship, which means that your interaction with them should be a two-way street. You should continue to provide some value in order to earn your portion of their mind share. An incentive-based loyalty program is a perfect way to accomplish this, especially when you offer bonus loyalty points to your fans and followers. You can also supply them with exclusive coupons, inside info about your company, or sneak peeks at new products or services. These are your best customers, so treat them like the VIPs that they are.
 
Social media enables you to connect with your customers on a more frequent basis than other forms of communication; however, relationship marketing isn't constrained to the online world. In fact, interactions with your customers in the real world are often vital to maintaining a lasting relationship. Although you may be able to stay in the forefront of your customers' minds using social media, you must occasionally connect on some level in the real world in order to solidify your relationship with them. Offer discounts or special deals when customers check-in at your place of business on Foursquare or Facebook Places. You can also facilitate this in-person interaction by inviting your followers and fans to an exclusive event or giving them special "members-only" discounts at your store. When they come into your place of business, make sure that they receive the same VIP treatment you've been offering online. It's all about nurturing your relationship with the customer. That is the only way to succeed in the world of Marketing 2.0.