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Rules Of Engagement

First published by TOB in 2012


Marketing like most things in today’s society is evolving faster than ever. The channels through which we communicate are continually expanding and what consumers expect and demand from brands has changed significantly from the days when they were simply listening, and the brands were telling.

Today the industry is a far more engaging and reactive place where dialogues between consumers and brands foster relationships and drive business behaviour. Some have argued that the balance of power now lies with the consumer and they can literally make or break brands in the socially aware environment.

Whether that’s completely true is a subject to debate . What isn’t in doubt is that the marketing paradigm has shifted. However,  the traditional model is as relevant as ever, as it adds clarity and focus to an overly eager and fast moving industry.

This is something that many marketers in their excitement about the digital era seem to have overlooked or forgotten.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

The excitement of being able to quantify and measure practically everything means that there is a temptation to do so. Of course it’s important to measure, but we should ensure we are measuring the right things. Understand what the key measurements of success for your business are and measure them – there’s nothing new in that, we’re not rocket scientists, but it seems that many people are throwing out the old with the new. I never said ‘Emperors’s New Clothes’, but I may have thought it!

Decisions are made reactively, to the newest trend, tool or twitter event, and while I do not deny that being real-time, engaging and reactive is essential, this should not be at the cost of considered business and marketing decisions. There should be room for both and they should work together.

This was brought home to me while sitting in a presentation at the Social Media World Forum a couple of weeks ago  listening to a Q&A session regarding Facebook followers – something brands place significant value in and so they should. BUT my concern is that they have forgotten why they’re important.

Brands are so concerned about the numbers that they’ve forgotten to consider what to do with these followers once they have them! What’s the value in having 50,000 followers if they aren’t engaged, promoting your brand or more importantly buying your products? Look at all the people outside my shop looking in – but not buying anything!

Equally, it’s no good driving all your sales through social media if the cost per customer is prohibitive – that’s going to be a very short business model. So understand the relative merits of the whole channel mix and where your best customers come from, and as a very wise man once told me – always measure, always test, always learn and always apply the fruit of your knowledge.

So I put it to the industry to take a step back, bring out the old rule book and get back to basics.

What is the objective, who is the target market, where are they, what do they want, how can we best engage with them and through which channel!

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