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Jan 2014 12

are you serving up an empty plate?

Posted in blog

Seems these days that social media is taking over marketing.

I mean really taking over.

Like nothing else exists.

All day I get bombarded via email / linkedin / twitter  and it seems that practically every topic HAS to have the word “social” stuck in there.  Endless webinars and posts on it – How to do it effectively.  How to increase traffic.  How to engage in more conversations. How to make social media iron your shirts.

I go for a coffee and I feel like I have to tweet it rather than drink it.

And of course, when we at The Marketing Box engage with clients, it’s at the top of everyone’s agenda.

Social media is confusing and baffling and constantly moving, and that’s just for the people who are actively using it and trying to keep ahead of it (beware the self appointed ‘social media guru’).  90% of clients I meet are downright bloody scared of it.  There is an overwhelming feeling out there amongst client side executives that they should be doing more with it – or else they’re going to be left behind and somehow disappear in a puff of smoke.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  ’The internets’ is a wonderful thing for marketers. It allows access to vast audiences – engaged audiences – at a relatively low cost of investment.  It can also allow fantastic interaction with your customers and provide feedback loops that can drive your future development strategies.  It can allow you to listen, really listen to your target market.

But here’s the crux.  First, you have to deliver.

Social media has NOT provided some magic potion whereby it will fix all your problems if only you can master it, despite what the blogs might imply.

The basic principles of marketing have NOT changed with it.  If anything they have become even more important as customers gain access to more and more competing information.

You deliver what your customers need (nae demand). They then buy it.  They happy.  You happy.  Everybody wins.

Don’t forget that this new medium was not created for us marketers.  If anything social networks frown upon blatant commercialism. Social media is simply a new communications tool.  A very effective one yes – but nothing more.  Used effectively it will put your message in front of a potentially receptive and profitable audience, and if they like what they see they will actively help you by becoming external ambassadors for your brand. But those same ambassadors can just as easily burn you.

You’ve seen the X-factor right? All those excited hopefuls who turn up and queue for hours and hours on end just for that one chance to impress those judges that could change their lives and hand them their dreams. All looking the part (the same part mind) and full of promises to “blow them judges away!”

And what happens to the vast majority when they’re handed that one big chance?

That’s right – they totally bomb – usually by being exposed as sounding no better than your nan gargling her denture flush. Everybody laughs at them.  Simon Cowell makes another ten squillion quid.

Quite simply, when they get their chance, they fail to deliver.

And that is my point.  Some marketers, under pressure from clients or bosses in their headlong rush to embrace social media, are quite simply forgetting what needs to be concentrated on – the brand itself.

Yes, social media is great, but it will only put so much lipstick on a pig.

Do you actually have something credible and attractive to your target audience? Are you articulating the value of your offering correctly?  Do you understand why your potential customers will buy from you and not your competitors?  And are you willing to adapt and change your offering depending on what they tell you?

In essence, do you actually have something worth delivering?  Because until you can say yes, all you will be delivering is an empty plate.

So my advice is to take a good look first at your offering, and make sure you are delivering a product or service that is competitive and has a strong differentiated value proposition, and only then build social media into part of your overall communications strategy.

Social media gives you a stage.  So when you get onto that stage, you better be able to sing.


Posted by: Rob Paton, Director, The Marketing Box