How To Market To Consumers With Social-Media ADD

8 03 2012

The most universal factor in marketing today is that consumers are busier than ever and their attention more taxed.

As a result of all this, core consumer buying behavior has been irreversibly altered in four ways:

1. The path to purchase is becoming distributed and social–not a clean funnel. Today’s consumer journey does not have an epicenter–not the website, not the advertising, not the social channel. Marketers must be present and relevant (with engaging content) in more places at more moments, and recognize that consumers increasingly want to engage (and buy) at the moment of emotional connection, regardless of the environment.

2. In today’s distributed consumer journey, paid, owned, earned, and bartered media all intersect. The consumer chooses where and how they engage by consuming and sharing media, and successful media must increasingly be filtered through the lens of word-of-mouth (sadly, it is not). So, we must fix the marketing organization by eliminating silos between marketing disciplines, and collapsing the planning process to combine creative/production and distribution/media from inception. Marketing can no longer stomach dead ends. Why would a television ad not drive to an online experience? Why does a print article not continue the story online? I have never heard a satisfactory explanation.

3. Throughout the journey, brand is diluted by several influences. A friend’s ‘brand’ means more than the company’s brand in today’s social contracts. Brand also becomes less relevant in algorithmically driven search and social environments, with time in social environments accounting for upwards of 20% of users’ online time. Google and Facebook command undue sway over consumer access to brands. Companies must integrate input from customers into product development, marketing, and packaging.

4. Customers are the best marketers. The Law of Social Sharing, Y = C *2^X [X is time, Y is what you share and C is a constant] is essentially true right now, although we really do not yet understand its sustainability. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes that the amount of content we share will double every year. As Chris Dixon points out, sharing 1,048,576 (2^20) times the information in twenty years from now seems incredulous, but not impossible in a frictionless information future. Marketers must genuinely engage their customers now, because friends and technology increasingly share ownership of their brand.

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