Archive for June, 2013

Back in the day, Word of Mouth Marketing was the rarely achieved panacea, the elusive holy grail of the broadcast marketer.

These days it’s become our bread and butter.  Word of Mouth Marketing (or WOMM for short) is the cornerstone of brand success in our digital age. And from the girded loins of WOMM has sprung the latest favoured child, Social Commerce.

With modern consumers imbibing WOMM as an essential part of their decision making processes,  Social Commerce has become the key to future success.

In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg said “If I had to guess, social commerce is next to blow up”.  He wasn’t wrong.  With 74% of consumers now relying on social networks to inform their purchasing decisions, no modern day brand can afford to ignore this latest concept.

Social commerce is defined as a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services. In a nutshell, selling within social networks.

Social Commerce allows brands to sell where consumers spend their time.  To capitalise on this you need to make sure you’re there, at the coal face, engaging with your consumers, gaining insight and generally being a likeable, trustworthy all-round good guy.

While Social Commerce is very much in its infancy, with big online brands such as Amazon, American Apparel and Cafepress still at the toe-dipping stage of engagement, it is undoubtedly the shape of things to come. So if you haven’t already, you need to start thinking about it.

How to prepare? In short you’ve got to have a brand that wins on social media – see my previous blog for details of how to do just this.

Now as a marketer, I’d never advise you to put all your eggs in one basket. An integrated strategy is always the way to go.  No one channel can ever deliver business success in isolation. And there’s always a place for the old-school skills. If you’ve got sufficient budget, clever advertising is still a great way to achieve brand awareness, and get you on the radar of your target audience. When it comes to the transactional crunch, though, it’s WOMM that increases your conversion rates and closes deals. And with Social Commerce enabling brands to hold transaction-inspiring conversations quite literally at the point of purchase, you’d be a fool to ignore it.

The high street is dead (boo), long live SC

bacon flavoured coffee

Granted, I’m probably not in the most gastronomically objective of moods, given that at 1am today I was rounding off the evening (a quiet night in with a friend, don’t you know?) with a large tumbler of elderflower liqueur. It was one of those ideas that seemed great at the time, but now in the cold light of day, with pounding head and churning tum, was clearly a huge mistake. Not remotely big or clever…especially on a school night.

But even without a hangover, bacon flavoured coffee just seems wrong. I’m all for pushing the boundaries of flavour combinations in pursuit of the next taste sensation (well, maybe not today), but there is a line.  And that has crossed it. Created by gourmet coffee company Boca Java, they claim their Maple Bacon Morning blend is  ‘reminiscent of a hearty Saturday morning breakfast’. Even for a brand whose tagline is ‘redefining the perfect cup’ this has surely got to be a massive stretch?

I mean, I’m all for the nuances bestowed by different coffee blends – spicy, fruity, full-bodied, rich, smooth etc, but to my mind coffee should taste like coffee…and definitely not like bacon.

Now some flavour combinations, that seem plain weird at first, just work. Peanut butter and jelly (sorry, jam), chilli and chocolate are a couple that spring to mind. Discovering new taste sensations is all in a day’s work for the scientists at Foodpairing. They are slaving away to discover new ways to pair old ingredients.  Using a scientific flavour analysis, they pair together foods that share major flavour components, in ways that we couldn’t even dream of.

According to their findings, surprising yet winning combinations include: Heinz Tomato Ketchup and banana, dark chocolate and parmesan and French cheese and almond cookies.  What say you Rumblechatters? Do any of those tickle your fancy, or even your tastebuds?

I’m not keen on the first pairing, but on a better day I could see the appeal of the latter two. For now though, I just need a strong coffee-flavoured coffee…and maybe a little lie down.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Beauty is skin deep. It’s the personality that counts. All of these adages, with us since our formative years, are pertinent when developing a winning brand in this digital age.

Creating a successful online brand is not a challenge for the faint of heart.  It takes work, investment (of time and money) and a level of skill and understanding that does not come naturally to everyone.

For lots of small companies, social media has simply become another box to tick on the start-up checklist.  They set up profiles on Facebook and Twitter, build up a modest following, knock out a few tweets and link Facebook to Twitter, thereby killing two birds with one stone. Job done. Right?

In a word – NO.  A successful social media strategy will make your brand SOCIABLE, LIKEABLE and PROFITABLE, but you’ve got to put the effort in.  And you’ve got to have self-awareness, or at least awareness of how you are perceived by customers and prospects.

I always recall a meeting with a retailer who, during one of his many abrasive yet dull monologues informed me that he modelled his brand’s social media personality on his own – “clever, sociable and witty”. Our survey says eeeeh, uuuuh (Family Fortunes reference – I can’t quite figure out how to write it phonetically). His online persona did mirror his real-life personality, but needless to say it displayed none of those attributes.

Creating a great digital personality for your brand does not always come naturally. The days of loudly touting your wares via broadcast marketing techniques are well and truly over.  The modern way requires a customer-centric way of thinking and the ability to listen and change tack according to what you hear. Consider social media a virtual dinner party.  Your challenge is to be the most charming guest.

This is achieved by getting striking the right balance of, what I call (in a Miranda stylee), Campaign and Brand messages.  Spend 70% of your time on Brand messages – decide on key topics of interest for your target audience and use this as a basis for your curated content. DO NOT talk about your brand, but rather, flesh out its personality, bringing it to life and making it likeable.

Spend the remaining 30% of your time promoting Campaign messages ie, incentives, competitions, calls to actions etc. (basically anything with traditional marketing scope)

By maintaining this balance you will be the entertaining dinner party guest; the fascinating, witty person that everyone wants to sit next to, not the ‘let’s talk about me’ bore that everyone avoids. And if you’re struggling, why not call in the experts?