Why is it marketers become so quickly enamored with the next shiny toy? And at what cost? What do I mean by “the next shiny toy”? For many marketers, the first new shiny toy came in the mid-’90s with the creation of websites. And even though email (initially known as electronic mail) started its humble beginnings in 1969, it wasn’t until the ’90s that it became a pervasive marketing channel.
In addition to email, marketers chased another new shiny toy: Internet marketing. In 1994, zero dollars were spent on Internet advertising. By 1996, US companies had invested $301 million in Internet marketing, primarily in the form of banner ads and attempts to transform other offline advertising concepts to the Internet. We weren’t content, and before we figured out how to strategically use our new toys, we charged off into new territory.
In 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed what would become the most popular search engine, Google, and marketers couldn’t wait to get their hands on this next shiny toy: search engine optimization and pay-per-click (PPC).
In 1997, Jorn Barger coined the term “weblogs,” and marketing had another new vehicle for reaching customers.
In less than a decade, marketers had led their organizations into new channels—without having mastered any of them.
Still, we couldn’t help ourselves when 2001 ushered in the next shiny toy: Web 2.0, which facilitated online collaboration. MySpace entered the market is 2003 as the next shiny toy officially emerged: social media. With the ability to move beyond HTML to rich user interfaces, Flickr came on to the scene, followed by Google’s G-mail and the inauguration of Digg. Marketers experimented with and pursued social media to the fullest extent of their abilities. While we dabbled, mobile marketing hit the scene in 2001. And while we talked the talk, SMS technology didn’t become widely used until mid-2008.
Our appetites for the new shiny stuff seem insatiable.
This article isn’t meant to be “marketing media in review.” Its purpose is to demonstrate that marketers tend to race headlong, hell-bent after the next shiny toy. But at what price? I’d suggest at the price of our credibility and the opportunity to be perceived as a strategic player.
Chasing the next new thing potentially portrays us as tactically opportunistic. If we want to be accepted as members of the strategic team, we have to exercise strategic discipline. That means we need to be concerned with making decisions that affect the direction of the organization and not just add a new toy in the box.
When our enthusiasm (or that of our colleagues) convinces an organization to experiment with the next shiny toy without understanding the strategic implications, as marketers we are doing a disservice to the organizations we support and we’re presenting marketing as a primarily tactical function.
So, am I suggesting we stop chasing the next shiny toy? No. But before we do, we should understand the strategic context and implications of doing so. Perhaps before we leap, we need to master the toys we’ve already acquired. Yes, our competitors may start using the next shiny toy first, but the misuse of a new shiny toy can be far more damaging.
Here are five things to consider before taking the plunge that will, at least, help you appear more strategic in your deployment of a shiny new toy:
- Customer and market demand. Have the customers you want to connect with and engage adopted the new channel, or are you getting ahead of them? Being first on the block may be irrelevant if the markets you serve or want to serve aren’t ready. The timing of deploying a new channel should be based on how stable it is and how familiar and comfortable people are with using it.
- Skill level. Do you and your people have the skills to successfully implement and use the new toy? If a successful implementation requires complex new skills, and if it is too time-consuming or costly to acquire that level of competence, it may be too soon for your organization to tackle the new channel.
- Payoff. New channels have a steep learning curve and are costly. The adoption of a new channel may require configuring systems, upgrading technology, or even adding new systems and training employees. Before you embrace the new shiny toy, develop and present the business case that assures your leadership team that the investment will pay off.
- Vehicle stability. Are the standards for the new channel or technology stable? The value of a new channel or technology increases once the standard of use is established. Otherwise, you may be in for a lot of rework—and that means time and money.
- Critical mass. One of the reasons new channels and technologies risk our credibility is that they often have relatively poor performance in their initial incarnations. A key strategic factor to consider before deciding to adopt a new channel or technology is whether there are enough suppliers in the market to make the adoption easy, cost-effective, and user-friendly.
We’ve all seen how enamored children are with new toys. And we’ve also seen just how easily and quickly they can discard what was once so treasured and coveted. So although the new toy beckons, be sure you have the answers to those five questions before engaging in the chase.
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Hardly a week goes by when you don’t read or hear about social marketing or social media, the terms social marketing and social media are frequently used so it’s probably a good idea to define what we mean by these two terms.
Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s. Philip Kotler & Gerald Zaltman, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, in 1971, used the term to describe the application of commercial marketing principles to health, social and quality of life issues.
Social marketing was defined as “seeking to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.” It leverages the value that consumers/customers have in sharing between themselves and with the brand/manufacturer. It delivers a two-way communication link between the consumer/customer and the brand.
While social marketing was originally developed from the desire companies had to capitalize on commercial marketing techniques, it has evolved into a more integrative and comprehensive discipline that draws on a wide array of technology, from the traditional media to new media referred to as “social media.” These social media are comprised primarily of Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information such as viral videos, blogs, online reviews, etc. to help the
company build its business.
While your website provides customers and visitors with information about your company and its products and you use the Internet to enhance your reach through things such as pay per click, webinars, and search; social media is about leveraging relationships and networks. It complements other online and offline marketing initiatives. Social media and marketing doesn’t replace other media, just as radio didn’t replace newspaper and television didn’t replace radio.
Rather, social media are another part of your multi-channel marketing efforts.
And as with any form of communication, people’s attention spans are short and they are easily and quickly distracted. Therefore, just like any other effort, a singular strike may not be enough. When you decide to leverage social media you need to deploy it consistently over time.
eMarketer estimates that social network ad spending will be $1.3 billion in 2009. As more and more companies invest resources into social media and marketing it’s natural to bring to questionhow to measure the value of this investment. As with any initiative, you can measure the impact of a social media effort only after you’ve determined the business outcome it supports and established performance-based objectives.
For example possible objectives could include increasing customer trial, improving brand advocacy/customer loyalty or increasing share of preference. Each of these objectives should be tied to a business outcome. For example increasing customer trial or share of preference may be tied to business outcomes around new customer acquisition or accelerating the rate of customer acquisition in order to impact revenue and market share.
The metrics you choose for your social media will be determined after you’ve established the business outcome that needs to be achieved and how the social media will support the corresponding marketing objective.
Just as with any communication channel you will want to have some way to create a measurement framework. One possible approach is to measure your social media similar to how you measure public relations (PR) using outputs, outcomes and business results as the basis of your framework.
Why choose a framework similar to one used for PR? If you review the purpose of each you can see they are actually kissing cousins.
Public relations is about attempting to favorably influence the impressions and attitudes of a target audience primarily through endorsements (published articles, reports, reviews, etc) by trusted, credible, objective third parties. Social media isn’t very far afield from this idea when you consider that social media is designed to impact engagement and affect influence through the participation and interaction of third party networks and communities. They both rely on perceived trusted and credible third parties over which you have very little control.
How do you use the outputs, outcomes and business results framework? First let’s define each
category because each category measures something different:
1. Outputs – measure effectiveness and efficiency, such as was the campaign cost-effective in terms of the number of positive reviews produced by community influencers or the number of people engaged in a blog discussion on a topic related to your category that includes positive mentions of your company and its product.
2. Outcomes – measures changes, preferably behavioral, resulting from the program/campaign/activity. For example this could be the quantifiable change in the number of positive reviews for your company’s recently launched new product.
3. Business results – measure how the program/campaign/activity helped the organization achieve a specific business objective. For example, the rate of adoption for your company’s new product that is what was the incremental lift in sales for the product as a result of the social media.
The more quantitatively you can measure your social media the better. And its even better the closer those measurements relate to your business outcomes. How rapidly people in the network engage with you and respond to your “call to action” such as write a review, participate in the blog discussion, or forward something to a colleague can all be measured.
What you want to know is whether the social media efforts are having any incremental impact and if so how much so you can assess return on investment. Remember to keep the business outcome in mind, for example such as seeing an increase in the number of people “trialing” your product in order to increase the number of qualified leads in the pipeline and ultimately increase the number of “buyers”.
So even if the social media is producing a good return in terms of its specific metric, if it isn’t moving the needle on the business outcome, then more than likely you need to revisit your effort.
This entry was posted in Marketing Measurement, Marketing Trends and tagged Marketing, marketing measurement, marketing media, media, media and marketing, media marketing, social media, social media marketing.