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The New Media Marketer's First Date

Posted June 2, 2011
Posted in Advertising, Behavioral Marketing, Branding, Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Shopper Marketing, Social Media, Technology, The Future, Trends

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We’ve all been on a first date and can relate to the awkward pauses in the conversation, the often-confusing body language and the painful uncertainty about how to end the night – should you kiss, hug or merely shake hands – who knows?

This, in many respects, sums up the current state of new-media marketing.  Marketers and consumers have embarked on their first date and neither is completely comfortable with the other just yet – particularly in the social and mobile spaces.

Some of the “research” that’s being conducted would lead us to believe that consumers are literally clamouring for the attention of mobile and social marketers.  These sometimes-questionable statistics suggest that consumers are virtually lining up for contact from brands on social networks and on their handheld devices.  Other studies provide a far more sobering view of a consumer who is worried about privacy and security.  It’s difficult to sort out truth from hyperbole.

Part of the current awkwardness comes from the fact that for close to a century, marketing has fundamentally lacked any intimacy.  Conversations with customers became industrialized.  The company with the biggest media machine typically won attention.  It wasn’t a date – it was an orgy!  The Marketer’s objective was simply to keep adding consumers to the wide-end of the marketing funnel. It was about “eye balls” and “feet through the door”.

New marketing, on the other hand, seeks to initiate an ongoing relationship.  The goal is not simply to buy new customers but to win the customers you have all over again, every day.  It’s a conversation in the truest sense and as close as a marketer can get to looking their customer in the eye.

In a recent interview with Guy Kawasaki, speaker and author of the new book Enchantment, he summed it up this way –   In order for a brand to “enchant” a consumer three things need to happen.  First, the brand needs to be genuinely likeable. Secondly, it needs to be trustworthy.  And finally, it needs to have a great product.  If these three conditions exist, consumers are likely to be willing to open themselves up to an ongoing relationship with a brand.  Although this sounds easy enough, Guy also acknowledges how few brands have mastered the equation.

In the digital world, getting “liked” is relatively quick and easy.  Research shows that consumers are quite open to “liking” retailers and brands online.  Where brands often fail is in building trust.

Trust is earned over time.  It comes with consistently demonstrating respect. It means putting the interests of the other party ahead of your own.  And this is where I feel many brands jump the gun.  The moment consumers express a willingness to interact, they’re all too often bombarded with irrelevant and sometimes intrusive messages. The result is often the systematic destruction of the very trust brands so desperately need to build.

New Media is NOT a Short Cut

The epiphany for new-media marketers is this – new media isn’t faster than mass media.  In fact, it’s slower because it’s based on real, human interaction. It’s not based on impulse but rather on meaningful interaction.  It takes time and it takes work.

Marketers have to build a new level of patience into their marketing plans when approaching their new media strategy.  They need to incorporate the time to build the trust of their admirers and only when the time is right, deliver remarkable value with great products and service.  This isn’t easy in a world that demands quarterly financial miracles and immediate results but it’s essential to reap the rewards of new media.

And for those who are currently questioning the ROI of new media, I would offer that despite having over 100 years of practice with mass media, many businesses are still screwing it up too.  The problem with new media has nothing to do with it’s inherent effectiveness, but more to do with our lack of understanding of how to skillfully employ and measure it.  It’s not up to social and mobile media to prove its value, it’s up to us as marketers to prove we’re capable of thinking differently about what marketing is in the first place.


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