"The most important word in the vocabulary of (direct response) advertising is TEST. If you pretest your product with consumers, and pretest your advertising, you will do well in the marketplace." [David Ogilvy, 6:59"]
Lee Odden at Top Rank Blog has written a very thoughtful post on direct marketing and social media marketing. As Lee writes and as we discussed yesterday here, you need to be already involved online and the content you create needs to be an expression of the value statement platform you are planning to discuss.
Focusing on developing solutions based on what the audience wants, then involving the community in developing and promoting creates evangelists for the promotion. Recognizing participation energizes the community and can multiply the speed and breadth of message distribution, discussion and action.
Direct response on social media allows you to scale your campaigns in (at least) two ways:
1. It may free you of some of the constraints of print budgets and traditional media channels.
With apologies to the folks who are in the printing business, you need to integrate more than one tactic to make things work better (and to stretch the budget). Plus, there can be some fallacy in lists - no matter how good they are, they are still a list of names, and not connections. When demographically correct, lists may be reaching an audience who does not much care for your product or service.
Online, you have the opportunity to be more attuned to behavior. But watch for bringing a direct marketing attitude to social media!
2. It allows you to begin talking with more people who want to become better buyers.
It has long been my belief that marketing is most effective when it addresses the post-purchase (or at least intention to purchase) rationalization. With social media you are giving a community ways to see each other and follow each other's lead.
Some of the examples of community I am using in my presentation are In the Motherhood by Unilever and Sprint and Being Girl by P&G. According to Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff in Groundswell, Being Girl attracts more than 2 million visitors a month, worldwide.
There is a lot more to think about than meets the eye. The good news is that you already know all this, just in a different channel, with different dynamics. Pay attention to the dynamics and keep your eye on the people.
Monitor, Identify, Create, Test, Measure, Adjust
Social media allows you to listen in the conversations that are happening online. What are people saying about their needs and wants? What products and services are top of mind? Why?
What have you got that solves their problems? There, with enough listening (terms searched is also information, right?) you can find the basis for creating something that can be of value.
Lee Odden and many others often recommend targeting influentials. I say forget influentials, in viral marketing, context matters. I am being contrarian here for a reason, you need to think long and hard about who your influentials are.
As I was preparing for the conversation on direct response, I could not help but think about the marketing funnel. There is a lot more that happens inside that funnel today.
Complexity is dictated by the very nature of people and the opportunities we are exposed to in the arc of a day.
While much of the traditional direct response theory focuses on the process, social media shines a spotlight on the people.
Brand relationships and preference are formed via exposure to interpersonal exchanges.
You may argue that your customers are not online - fair enough. Their neighbors and friends might be. We all know that we pay more attention to the recommendation of a friend, than we do to even the best targeted piece of direct mail. You know what I'm talking about, think home improvement, would you pick from a search, or would you ask your neighbor first?
Positive word of mouth is also the sum total of good impressions we have of a product. Who does not run a search online before a substantial purchase? Chances are you're looking for reviews from other customers on that site.
Amazon got it right by allowing their community of buyers to see what others have recommended and bought. Even when I know what I want, I enjoy reading other people's take on the site - and I weigh negative reviews with the positive. It's actually good to have a mix instead of a sanitized site. Your customers are more than capable of making their minds up on their own.
Spotlight on People
There's the classic visual representation by David Armano I think of as a cycle. In a recent podcast, David talks about the concept of accidental marketer. He says:
"Each time we act as evangelists for products, brands or services—then
it becomes less about a purchase at the bottom of the funnel and more
about perpetuating a constant state of “loops”.
“Accidental marketers” have always existed, it’s just that the Web has given us more effective ways to influence our own consumer behavior—which makes things a little more challenging for those “professional marketers”.
Social media puts the spotlight back on the people and their feedback to your direct response tactics. Plus there is an intimacy that people can achieve when they talk with each other, that you would be hard pressed to duplicate - as good as you are.
This may feel a bit uncomfortable and fuzzy for you as you are used to specific metrics. Social media does not have the massive body of best practices your traditional marketing accumulated. Yet.
That's why in my view it is about "and/and" instead of "either/or". Digital marketing is an ecosystem - content works best within context. Here are some more ideas for those of you who are thinking about building context.
In direct response on social media, the first question you still need to ask yourselves is what are you trying to accomplish and why. Then you can figure out which numbers matter and how you are going to measure them. No matter what tactics you choose for your strategies, do focus on people. Online, it will be very clear, very quickly, whether you are the real deal or not. Can you be authentic?
Now I'm turning the mike over to my readers. What's your take? What have I missed? Do you want to share stories about direct response on social media?
This post builds on yesterday's post - involve, create, discuss, promote, measure - the social media campaign.
UPDATE: Michael Leis, who was also speaking at the event, wrapped up beautifully.
More on conversation: