I read an article the other day that alarmed me, but did not surprise me. It said that consumers are becoming more and more resistant to marketing, and social media marketing in particular. Now the reason why I say this is not surprising is because this is a trend that has been going on for decades. With the evolution of media and technology, consumers are becoming more and more savvy, knowledgeable and demanding, and in particular the 'digital natives' of the millennial (Gen Y) generation are the driving force behind a revolution of sorts. That is - businesses and brands are being forced to level up in their sales and marketing approach, to be more authentic, more personalised and more socially responsible. They want to do business with businesses that are invested in them, and making the world around them a better place.
So whilst from my perspective, both as a millennial and as a business owner, this is all great stuff, it does make things tougher. Marketing is constantly evolving and to make sure your business is cutting through the constant 'noise', you need to make sure you have a compelling, values based-strategy, that is going to communicate clearly and powerfully with your customers, and potential customers. The objective is the same as it always was - to create long term customers that are deeply engaged with you & your brand - customers that are essentially ambassadors for your business because they love you so much. They love the difference you make in their lives, and the experience you provided. Tapping into that potential is a must-do if you want your brand to have longevity and relevance over time.
So let's talk about social media marketing, and how this evolution in how we're consuming our marketing & advertising messages is so important. I don't know about you, but social media has become all consuming for me, and so many people I know. Both personally & professionally, it is a tool we use daily that isn't going away any time soon. The power of it in business cannot be denied, and to be blunt if you are not utilising social media in your business strategy - well, you need to. But there is also no denying that if you are using social media as part of your total marketing strategy, that done properly it takes up quite a significant amount of time. Not only to produce quality content, but to interact and engage with your wider community. So understandably, that leaves many businesses having to take a really close look at whether or not there's a decent enough ROI to justify the amount of time and money spent on it.
And therein lies the problem. We have consumers demanding more engaging, more personalised and more authentic content, and many businesses moving away from social media as they need to gain efficiency, reduce cost and focus on activities that have a more measurable and immediate ROI. So what do we do about it?
Get back to basics. Now I know it sounds easier said than done! But it doesn't have to be. Make sure you have a vision and mission for your business that is inspiring, engaging and based around creating an emotional experience for your customers. Have strong business values - things that your brand stands for, that you and your staff uphold and the things that you want your customers to feel. This is the first step in creating a fantastic strategy for your business - and without it it's going to be very hard to create sales and marketing messages that stand out from the crowd. And yes, I always say sales AND marketing. Why? Because they are two different functions of your business and should be treated that way. I see so many businesses putting all their eggs in one basket - either all in the sales basket, and not enough in marketing (and often this goes hand in hand with little or no investment in their branding). Or, and this is the more common scenario, businesses investing all of their time, R&D, and A&P budget on social media marketing. To succeed in an environment like this businesses simply must adopt a multifaceted approach, with heart. With a social conscience. With a dream to understand and make a difference in their customer's lives.
And it all starts with a great strategy.