What we usually see on TV, radios, magazines, and newspapers are old-school styles of marketing which gave viewers, readers, and consumers little chance to say ‘no’. The world has changed and these weather-worn ways might need to too.
The old style of marketing is what we call ‘Push Marketing’. Far from being snake oil marketing, it’s still in-your-face marketing that leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.
Marketing strategies that work today, whether it is B2B or B2C, give consumers a lot more power than ever before. ‘Pull Marketing’ require marketers to spin the flywheel of creativity because it demands more compassion, humanity, reality, and kindness.
Cause Marketing – Buying for a Cause
We’ve all seen it in newspapers, magazines and on social media – companies helping out non-profit organizations. It’s called Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, which is what large corporations invest in in order to make a case for their commitment to the communities they serve and believe in.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it! In fact, kudos to these corporations for giving back to its community.
These days, the term that I see more commonly used is Cause Marketing. It was reported that an overwhelming number of consumers WOULD consider switching brands if they felt that one corporation was Giving Back more than a brand they’ve been loyal to.
Large corporations would have an equivalent of an army of people working with non-profit organizations to work out mutually beneficial partnerships and efforts to promote the charitable cause and product/brand.
This can be a big struggle for smaller companies with shallower wallets. As it is, we’re struggling to make ends meet, but this is not the end of the road for us.
Invest in The Feel Good Factor
There are big ways to do it, and there are small ones. Large organizations tie their CSR activities to tax-deductible donations so, if you’re doing it the ‘small way’, there’s nothing of that sort. But this should not stop you from putting your boots on the ground by helping those who need a helping hand.
I’d say a large number of normal human beings want to make the world a slightly better place.
This goes without saying because it is common knowledge but many companies are too focused on profit and growth and have forgotten about what ‘feel good’ is to a consumer. If your consumers are passionate about helping the environment and you’re moving in that direction, chances are, they’ll pick you over your competition.
The feeling of sharing a common reality are the sacred ties you share with your customers.
Approximately half of the consumers interviewed in surveys reveal more enthusiasm and trust toward someone they know, have seen face-to-face, or in the store.
What this tells you is that the level of trust has eroded and the more compassionate you are, the more likely you’ll win in the game.
Joining Hands with Other Like-Minded Individuals and Companies
Over the years, I’ve found more and more corporations working together for a cause or share marketing strategies, partly to even out the cost and partly to form an alliance with each other. By leveraging on others’ networks, reputation, and effort, they form a strong affinity.
It also creates better credibility.
Designers are teaming up with writers, clothing brands are partnering with accessories designers, web hosting companies are tying up with content creators, and household product manufacturers are signing contracts with large retailers. They’re all co-promoting and it works because, if you think about it, it’s a two-way endorsement deal!
Some examples of wonderful partnerships are Spotify and Uber, Apple and Mastercard (it’s a surprising rise for this supposedly-dying brand), GoPro and Red Bull, BMW and Louis Vuitton (both suitably luxury brands targeting the same demographic), and there are many more out there.
I don’t know about your country but I’ve been seeing a lot more Mastercards these days compared to Visa.
So, what can you do if you don’t have the same advantage as Apple and BMW?
Look around you, not just online but also brands that you respect and would like to work with. Be bold and ask if they’re interested in a collaboration or co-branding exercise to strengthen each others’ reputation.
This might earn you brownie points in the form of free exposure and publicity. It is slower, unsolicited, and out of your control, but it works far better than paid advertising ever could. More than 90% of people say they trust endorsements, feedback, reviews, and free PR more than paid advertisements.
Word of Mouth Advertising Continues to be Relevant Today
Word of Mouth marketing has never really gone away. It was shimmied into the shadows by the fanfare online advertising and social media warfare has created.
At the end of the day, Word of Mouth advertising continues to be not just relevant but one of the most powerful marketing tool there is.
It’s the epitome of organic review because nobody’s asking anyone to do it, and no money changed hands. It happens because someone feels good about a product/service and willingly dispensed such information. The reviewer has nothing to gain (except praise for being helpful). And yet, it has the power to supercharge your brand!
For small and medium companies, don’t be shy about asking your happy customers to share the news out willingly. Just ask. #sharingiscaring
With social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Youtube where the ‘share‘ and ‘like‘ button is literally a click away, it’s the ethos the news cycle.
And that’s why social media marketing should focus on producing content and activities that encourage sharing across many different networks.
In fact, data suggests that in the near future, social endorsements may influence search engine optimization.
Side note: I love sharing useful content, be it on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, freely on social media simply because I love sharing. This is human nature and if businesses realize how evidently important this has become, there will be a positive impact on their goals.
Humans will remain humans. Frankly, I don’t really know what the future holds as far as Artificial Intelligence is concerned and I am sure we’re standing at the brink of a breakthrough, but at this point, humans are emotional.
And that’s why storytelling works!
One of the biggest reasons the ‘Stories’ feature on first Vine, Snapchat, Instagram and then Facebook took off like a madman was because it allows for the telling of a quick, short story that is time sensitive. Like it or not, it yanks at your heartstrings because you know it WILL disappear within 24 hours if you don’t watch or view it now. It’s emotional and it’s urgent.
While facts and figures are important, allowing your viewers a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes is far more effective because it is emotionally appealing. Instead of feeling like ‘Oh, it’s about money again’, they might feel a little bit more of ‘Oh, they care’, ‘How sweet’, or ‘That resonates with me’.
However, even with that said, companies that offer a range of services globally might have to put a few more thoughts into the importance of cultural differences. They need to understand that cultural factors can impact how one rolls out a marketing campaign and market reaction.
I’ve seen how emotional ads seem to work better in Asian countries than European and American markets. It simply does. In Malaysia, we celebrate Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, and Thaipusam. Every year, major organizations pour pots of gold into creating the most emotional advertisements. The funny thing is that most of us remember our favorite emotional ads/videos despite knowing it’s a paid ad.
Thailand is also known for its diverse, top-notch, creative advertisements. I’ve long been a fan of their ads because they’re unafraid to touch a raw nerve, appeal to the general audience, create awareness about real-life problems, highlight real stories, and are almost never pushy.
Rewarding your Customers and Clients
Surprisingly, paid endorsements never went away – and I guess it never will. Back in the day, it includes referral marketing programs, affiliate marketing, and direct selling. Today, there’s social influence marketing.
It’s the same monster in a different skin.
Incentivizing people to promote your products and services is not wrong because it continues to work. Most marketing experts, however, would say it carries less water now.
For one, people are more careful about endorsing something they know little about because everyone’s reputation is out there now.
Just because it carries less water doesn’t mean the stream of income that it can bring in is negligible. Affiliate and referral marketing lends credibility to the brand, products, and services. It’s just taken with a pinch of salt.
Consumers find it slightly more reliable than non-referrals.
For B2C, this might come in the form of social media but for B2B markets, this could mean participating in networking events, trade shows, conferences, community events, contributing to a cause, offering donations, organizing demos, and closed-door meetings with prospective partners and affiliates.
This is your chance to build a relationship with affiliates and offer them a reward as a partner or affiliate. Forming an allegiance with each other can lower the cost of marketing, promotional activities, and increase overall credibility.
So, what’s on the table right now?
As the market continues to grow, you should too. Here’s a short summary of things you might want to think about this week.
- How connected you are to your consumers/clients?
- Are you giving back to the right community and for the right reason? Are the causes important to your customers?
- How much money should you donate to your chosen charitable cause?
- Ask your customers what THEY care about
- Share marketing strategies and form alliances
- Collaborate and Listen (says, Vanilla Ice – lol, sorry)
- Emotional marketing – think of your customers not as numbers and dollar signs, but as human beings
- Reward your partners and affiliates for helping out