Hey Steven, what an amazing “fully loaded” question!
Here is my short answer – Yes.
Graham has a brilliant response and I hope to add to his. Here is my long answer.
I believe marketing is about communication. To me, good marketing means that a brand experience lives up to its promise. Good marketing happens when a brand understands that every interaction in the company-brand-customer continuum is a marketing touch point. The more consistent and emotional the connection, the more equity the brand builds.
In my opinion, the companies that win at building brand equity are the ones who execute four things really well.
1. They listen to their customers and give them a voice
2. They efficiently distribute relevant and sharable and emotional branded stories
3. They live up to their brand promise and deliver remarkable (see purple cow) branded experiences
4. They communicate with consumers wherever they may be
Great marketers can use any tool they like (traditional, social, mobile or digital) to achieve these results so long as it aligns with their customers media consumption behavior. It really doesn’t matter what media platform you use so long as it reaches the right customers. As John Coltrane once said “you can play a shoestring if you’re sincere”
Having a social or digital platform does not guarantee that a brand will be found. The message matters (see Simon Sinek Start with Why). Adding value matters (see Jeffrey Gitomer). Stories Matter (see Made to Stick). Building your own audience matters (see Brains on Fire, mystarbucksidea, Fiskateers, Dell ideastorm). Just as you can inundate with ads on traditional platforms, you can spam on social or digital.
If you haven’t looked at the Consumer Decision Journey by McKinsey Quarterly or ZMOT by Google, I’d suggest you give those two studies some time. They’re fantastic, groundbreaking pieces that have helped me understand how consumers are influenced by, and use media to evaluate and select brands.
I’ve come to think of Traditional and Digital media as symbiotic tools. Just as a hammer and a nail don’t do the same thing, both are needed to build a house. In the same way, a good marketing strategy should harmoniously blend traditional and digital elements to build a brand.
Traditional broadcasters have spent years and millions of dollars researching and to cultivate their own enormous audiences. While sometimes it may seem like it, broadcasters didn’t earn or maintain their large audience by running ads 24/7. They deliver interesting content broken up with ads which any company can rent to gain the attention of the broadcast audience. I think of traditional platforms as amplifiers. These amplifiers can cheaply and quickly distribute a brand’s message to virtually every segmented demographic audience. Want to speak to 50+ year old men? Try the newspaper. Need to get your message out to teenage girls? Try your local top 40 radio station. Need to reach sports fans? Piggyback on a hockey broadcast. It’s hard to measure the effect of traditional advertising in large part because a brand doesn’t own the data of the broadcaster’s audience. But, a brand can measure the ripples of that message impact by directing the audience to its own social or digital ecosystem.
On the other hand, social/digital platforms allow any company to become multimedia broadcasters and build an audience around their own brand. While it’s a very exciting time, the downside is that it takes time, strategy, patience and content to build that audience. By understanding your consumer’s needs, social and digital platforms can accelerate relationships, convert prospects into sales and service customers in ways that were never before possible. Its easier to measure because, you own the traffic data & metrics (or should figure it out) of your digital outposts.
Does this make sense? Told you it was a long answer:)
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