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Simon Carter, marketing director of Fujitsu’s government arm, was quoted in Marketing Week as saying that marketers are becoming lazy by over-using social media and ignoring the skills and disciplines traditionally learned by marketers.
And we think he may have got it right. The Internet explosion and the seemingly exponential growth in social media provides enormous opportunities for brands to connect and engage with consumers. But at the end of the day it is just another channel to market – a powerful one – but just another one. Getting the most effective use out of social media requires the fundamentals of marketing strategy to have been conducted first.
This means identifying achievable commercial objectives and appropriate demographic groups, arrived at through effective customer insights, which are then used to inform strategic marketing planning. Only once the strategic building blocks have been put in place can you look at the tactical roll out and which channels or communications tools are going to be used to bring your proposition to market. Leaping right in with your social media – or indeed your PR, your direct marketing or your advertising – is like building something on shifting sands. It’s not secure and you can never be absolutely sure it’ll be there in the morning.
Some brands are so eager to leap on to the social media bandwagon that not enough consideration is given either to the synergy with the brand or product or whether the form of social media being used builds a bridge with the consumer.
We think that it’s important that social media is used as a natural part of an integrated marketing programme. Marketing this week reports on how Comparethemarket.com has almost defined the way to use social media with its ‘Meerkat’ campaign. Although the social media campaign was successful, this was only because it formed part of a well thought-through and well conceived marketing campaign brought to life by iconic television advertising.
Craig Inglis, director of marketing at John Lewis, is quoted in the same article as saying: “You should not let the channel dictate the communication. Start with the big idea then the media channel comes second.” He’s spot on!
Carter believes that social media has made some marketers less concerned than they should be about accuracy and targeting. Some marketers, he says, no longer worry about even getting email addresses right. “If something goes wrong it’s like ‘so what, we’ll send another batch of 10,000”.
True marketing, though, is all about targeting and messaging – it’s not always a case of reaching the highest numbers full stop. If you get the fundamentals in place, you’ll reach the numbers you need and your message will be more relevant and accurate for doing so. And that’s the key route to achieving brand cut-through – social media or no social media.