Marketing is Dead, you’re kidding !


For the last three years, we’ve been listening to the same old song and success stories from Social Media Marketing experts on the why and how of SMM.

The story is around:

  • People are talking about your brand so you should be listening.
  • Look at what happened to J&J (Motrin), Domino Pizza, now Pampers (i.e these are the bad guys) and look at how great companies like Comcast, Zappos (these are the good guys)  are doing it.
  • Now that listening has become easy, marketing is dead or should be everybody’s routine (a few weeks ago SVAMA event).
  • Everyone employees should rush and spend most of their time in TweetDeck, Facebook, on Social Media Monitoring tools or on the new Social phone.
  • Brands should put their $$ where their followers and fans are and this is where the strategy should begin.

At the same time, more and more business executives question the value and ask the defining question: Where is the ROI?

I think it’s about time to step back, revisit the  marketing basics and look for a different response or at least open the dialog!

There is value in communities and conversations. There is also junk and noise and all sort of time traps in social media and listening (or should I say monitoring). Broad Monitoring as a strategy won’t work and shouldn’t probably be the initial step. It is very time consuming and if not backed by a sound marketing strategy (Targeting,  positioning, value proposition) and a committed organization, it’s just a waste of time.

While listening is key – don’t get me wrong on this– it’s important to consider things such as:

  • Who should I listen to? Who should I engage with? How do I optimize my interactions to create value?  This is often a make or break for small business.
  • Whose responsibility is it and what and how can we manage and provide a minimum level of control? I don’t want my call center or marketing interns to mess up a 6 figures sales!
  • How do all the functions work together as a team? Social media and communities is an opportunity for every part of the organization: PR, product marketing, customer research, community managers, customer support, engineering, sales, HR, compliance departments, R&D, legal  … all can get benefits in engaging with the right communities and can also screw things up.
  • While there is a tremendous amount of valuable data in the social web, it has to be translated to fit the entreprise data model. I don’t want to know who’s following xyz but who influence our profits.
  • What should we do about employees blogging on their own and how can we as a company get some benefits out of it?

If I’m in a middle of a crowd and I tell my 5 year old to listen, she will ask me “to who?”.
If I answer “everybody”  she’ll tell me she has only two ears.

There is no difference in social media and for people that want to get into numbers, the “Dunbar” number is a good place to start.

eCairn, as a small business engaged in social media, has to answer questions like:

  • How do we coordinate our sales outreach and our marketing efforts to focus on the same communities, who should we engage with?
  • When should sales take over the outreach effort?
  • How to ensure consistency in communicating our value proposition to (in our case) two distinct audiences: marketers and agencies?
  • Whats the objective of our Facebook page versus our LinkedIn group, versus our blog?
  • What is the value of our  followers? What’s the objective of having Twitter followers that are out of target … or non real persons?
  • How do we target communities that are a real good fit for our value proposition and stay away for those that will just eat up our time and never purchase?
  • How do we cherry pick the thought leaders we’d like to co-create / co-design with?
  • Where do we spend our social media time?

I would not say that we’ve cracked the code but we’ve learned a lot in three years.

We use social media (should I say communities) for Customer Research/ Content Marketing and Lead Generation. Our initial task is always translating our sales and marketing strategies into “who matters, what community” and the kind of objectives that we should set for these communities (positioning, messaging).

We’ve switched our focus a couple of times already, which I understand is quite typical of startups :-).
Our own software helps us map and maintain the organized list of people in our target communities. We also use it to listen and discover what’s going on in these communities (marketing). We leverage our research/discoveries to analyze what the current trends are and build our own content plans around these trends.We have a specific focus on “our customers”  and “middle magic” people. Our brand recognition and our finances are not at a point where we can get traction engaging with top influencers in our field.

As a result, we listen and engage a specific amount of time (1h per day max each) in listening, buzzing, outreach and content development, we track everything we do and everything and everyone we find interesting and we wrap-up at the end of each month to measure progress, spot people that we should more actively contact.

For our community effort which we just began, we’ve set qualitative metrics based on  the # of people on specific profiles and volume of participation… and we’ve been growing one step at a time and not with random followers. (Btw if you’re a marketing professional interested in communities and tribes, you should join us in Facebook). In terms of results… most of our leads come from our buzz/outreach effort and we do see a huge difference response rate when we take the time to build up relationships and do blogger outreach.

So, engineer your social media marketing activities so that:
– you know WHO to listen to
– and WHY you are listening to those WHO.

(*) side note on Comcast. I tried, without success,  to comment on several high profile social media blogs that I don’t see  Comcast a model for being consumer friendly (poor customer service, promotion for new subscribers not extended to user base …) . To me they have mainly succeeded in marketing to social media marketers.

They just rebranded to xfinity and , as far as I can judge, their social media effort is not extended to xfinity …

marketing is dead

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