Monday, February 22, 2010

Alphabet Games

By Dave Folkens
Anyone that’s spent any time studying marketing at all has heard of the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Those simple letters set the foundation for marketing and differentiating products and services of all kinds. However, as we enter 2010, are consumers shifting to a new model that marketers must adopt in order to succeed?

With social media all the rage right now (via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more) are consumers forever making the shift to a different set of expectations of brands? There are four new points that are making a great impact on the dynamic between corporate brands and consumers.
  • Influence - What type of reach does a brand have and how can it influence purchasing decisions. Think of top brands in social media like Zappos on Twitter or Dell which seeks influence in a variety of social media channels.
  • Interaction - Consumers are now expecting attention from the brands they love in real-time. Not via email in a day or two, not by waiting for a customer service call but actual interaction to get their questions answered or problems addressed. And, if you’re not responding, they’ll let everyone know about it.
  • Identification - Can customers identify with your brand online? Does your online personality feel like it’s something they can personally support? Are you fun or totally stuffy and corporate? Would your brand be the kind of “friend” they’d really want to know?
  • Individuality - While consumers are seeking to identify with your company; they don’t want you to be just like other companies either. Those that carve out an identity that provides some type of value add while doing so in a style that’s unique do well.
So, in the end, will social media and the four I’s replace long-standing marketing tactics and sales approaches that have been established to date? Absolutely not. Online engagement is a great new addition to the arsenal for companies and those that lead them, but social media should not be the singular focus of any organization.

If you run off to chase the latest technology out of fear for being viewed as “behind the times” or “missing the boat” and ignore your core competencies, you may lose customers that have brought you this far and risk tremendous damage to your brand. But you can’t deny the impact that online engagement has either. You need to be looking to add opportunities for consumers to get to know your brand and feel connected as well.

What’s the answer? A well-rounded strategy that is based on fundamentals with social media as a tool to enhance your brand…not replace it.

Dave Folkens is currently the Director of Communications for the Minnesota AIDS Project. He has previous experience with both small and large corporations as well as on the agency side of the PR business. He can be followed via Twitter @dfolkens.
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Dominic Fong said...

Dave, great article and thanks for putting the 4Is in context! While most people I've talked to focused on influence and interaction (where the results are), identification and individuality are just equally important to complete the customer's online experience. It'll be difficult, if not impossible, to promote influence and interaction if the brand doesn't identify with the consumer or it is just a "me too" brand.

I agree with you that the 4Is will co-exist with the 4Ps. I think those who succeed in this recovering market must focus on their core competencies, develop their 4Is just like they would and should with the traditional 4Ps, then leverage technology to enable the business to be successful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dominic,
I hope social media will become a standard component of any solid marketing plan. I believe there is significant opportunity in the digital space for all marketers and communicators but hope that we don't collectively lose sight of other strategic efforts. It should abosolutely be a part of the mix but not the only effort by any company.

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