Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Social media - Friend or Foe?

Steven Fry - King Tweet

I have recently been embroiled in several forums discussing the business use of 'Social Media'. These seem to be the new 'known unkown' of B2B and B2C copmanies marketing departments.

Opinions seems to be split 3-ways:

1) Waste of time - will dilute the core brand. One correspondent even went so far as to claim it would 'destroy' brand equity. Twitter gets the harshest criticim.... 140 characters... what's the point?... ok for riots and revolutions... no use in real business situations.

2) Wait and see.... or... don't know... or... it will be the next big thing... tomorrow.

3) Absolutely essential as part of the market research proposition... where real customers can have their say. (They're saying it anyway so why not actively engage?) Can also be used as a marketing comms channel. Great for viral campaigns.

I am firmly of the 3rd opinion. Wheren esle can you get real time feedback, communicate with whole segments of younger, web savvy, mobile consumers and customers? For free!

Companies that don't get it are missing out!

Marketing the Substance - not the Spin

Excellent article by my friend Richard Groom of the Peterborough Copywriting Bureau.

Contact details below and link to his excellent company the right... thanks Richard

Finding the substance

A year ago in the Chartered Institute of Marketing's 'Marketer'magazine, David Taylor wrote an excellent article about the needfor telling 'compelling brand stories based on substance'.

He was especially referring to the need for marketers to stay onthe right side of the 'Consumer protection from unfair tradingregulations 2007', which came into force in May 2008 andspecifically prohibit misleading consumers.

David cited some examples of brands that have relied on spin oversubstance and others have come to light since then. In April forexample, a campaign by Australian parents targeted 'CerealOffenders': producers of children's breakfast cereals usingmarketing spin that allegedly conflicted with nutritional facts.

(Kellogg's Nutri-Grain cereal was top of the list, with its claimto 'help fuel growing boys' said to be at odds with its 'lowfibre content and high levels of sugar and sodium'.)

Closer to home, earlier this month EDF Energy faced a backlashfrom consumers and competitors when it ran its 'Green Britain Day': the company was accused of spinning its green credentials.
So how can you avoiding relying on spin - or just falling back on the same old tired claims about your product's benefits - whencreating your marketing materials?

The answer is surely to reallyunderstand the product, and to do that you have to find the rightpeople.
I like meeting marketing people in my clients' companies but Ioften find that they are focused on the 'promotion' bit of themarketing mix. Even though they usually have a good understandingof the product, there are sometimes others who know more.

So I want to talk to the people who designed the product, thepeople who made it, the people who sell it and, ideally, thepeople who use it. When I do, I almost always uncover somegenuinely positive information about what the product does andhow well it does it.
If you can get a detailed understanding of the product there'susually no need to bamboozle customers with spin or flowerymarketing-speak.

Sure, well-crafted words are important. But it's the meat thatmatters, and although getting to the meat requires effort andpassion about what you are doing, it is always the bestfoundation for writing compelling marketing messages.

So who are the product experts in your organisation? Buildingrelationships with them is essential for anyone who wants tobecome an effective marketer or copywriter.

Until next time . . .
Peterborough Copywriting Bureau16 Mansfield Court, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE1 4NE,England