I’m preparing to work with a client team on their marketing plan for the next year.
(Photo credit: Robynlou8)
The group is excited to start talking about which media, various tactics we’d use across the social platforms they employ, and how we’d communicate to consumers. I’m pretty sure that I’ll bring the discussion to a pause by asking them to tell me the story before we focus on any of that. I’ll get several curious looks but I think that’s the most important question one can ask as the plan begins to take shape. Why?
The story is what defines everything else. If we’re going to be successful in touching the consumer we need to do so in a way that resonates with them and stories are the things that drive that connection. Obviously the consumer needs to be the hero of the story. Well, maybe the focus of the story is a better way to say that. They will be confronted with an obstacle and that problem is solved by whatever it is you’re selling. Seems pretty basic, right?
Take a look around you. How many pieces of marketing content can you spot that have it backwards? The product is the hero, the consumer just a spectator. How many tell a coherent story (they have beginnings, middle, and ends)? How many have a call to action, even if it’s subtle?
Once we all agree on the story we’re telling, the focus becomes translating that tome into each channel and each medium. We may need to alter the story slightly to be more specific to the audience we’re reaching through a particular medium but the basic story itself needs to remain intact. If we’re really doing our jobs well the message will resonate, the characters (which might be the product and the consumer) will be well-formed, and the call to action will result in whatever it is we want them to do – a click, read something else, give us an email or maybe even buy something.
Tactics are, frankly, the less-fun part. Writing the story is fun and an important first step. So ask yourself – what’s your story?
There’s a relatively recent phenomenon called “Showrooming” that’s becoming a concern for retailers. In a nutshell, this is the practice of some consumers of going into a physical store to do research and then making the purchase elsewhere, generally online. Given today’s technology, those purchases can even happen in the store via a mobile device. A piece from eMarketer quoted a couple of studies that found this is not a hypothetical problem for retailers:
Several researchers have surveyed the number of US mobile phone users who have comparison-shopped via phone while in-store. Their research has found a comparison-shopping rate ranging from 59% of US smartphone owners (InsightExpress, 2011) to 25% of US mobile phone owners (Pew Internet and American Life Project, January 2012).
ForeSee Results findings from between 2009 and 2011 are consistent with this trend toward using mobile phones for in-store research; however, in 2011, the shoppers surveyed were more likely to access the website or app of the store they were actually in than a competitor’s website or app. This means that retailers need to not only be concerned about how their pricing stacks up against others’, but also about pricing consistency across their own channels.
This is sort of the same issue faced by music companies who are trying to sell physical media like CD‘s while enabling the purchase of the same product through digital channels. The retailers need to differentiate themselves in ways that make doing business with them valuable beyond price. Customer service, ease of returns, unique merchandise or unique offers are all areas that can be differentiators. Target has reached out to vendors to do just that, and others are as well.
So the question to you today is this: what are you doing to make sure that your business is different? We can go back to the old advertising saw of the Unique Selling Proposition – as we find in this space a lot, everything old really is new again or at least wrapped in new tools.
Image by Пероша via Flickr
I had a birthday recently and am now firmly ensconced in the 55+ demographic. I know that this doesn’t matter to any of you since my youthful spirit shines brightly. However, it seems to matter a lot to people doing research or trying to sell stuff. What a shame.
This really hit home to me as I was being screened for yet another online survey. I take these for a couple of online music services in order to get the service for free. However, although I live in a nice zip code and am an active consumer (with opinions about everything as you all well know), I screen out of a lot of surveys – my opinions aren’t needed – and I’m pretty sure it’s the age screen that determines that. Huge mistake, and here’s why. Continue reading