Marketing. For many this word brings a feeling of pressure, whether as a consumer or as a business director having to contemplate customer acquisition. Many people directly associate advertising with marketing, and rebel against the constant deluge of print and pixels trying to convince them to purchase, purchase and purchase some more.
But marketing in a modern environment isn’t all pressure tactics and popping pixels desperately trying to convince everyone to buy their product. Modern marketing involves many subtleties that can generally go unnoticed, or in business managers respect “forgotten”.
We’ll discuss a few current techniques we (and others) employ to grow brands. We’ll also differentiate between traditional methods and their effectiveness in our Uber-digital world.
Building a Brand, through marketing
Traditionally, all businesses have needed to complete marketing to gain attention. Before Brands were even a discussion point, businesses needed to create awareness of their product with potential customers. Before any kind of media existed this was completed face to face, or by word of mouth – hence these two methods still being the most powerful/common methods of marketing to draw attention to product/brand.
Historically, as media opportunities began presenting themselves, methods of gaining attention for business become more complicated. The advent of the printing press gave rise to the newspaper (and other print based media).
Where before, businesses needed to be face to face with their potential customer, they could now reach them reasonably effectively by placing an advertisement into a newspaper.
As newspapers and magazines become more mature and demographically driven, businesses then had the opportunity to better refine their marketing by placing advertisements in newspapers and magazines that were relative to the product they had to sell. Design began to also play an integral part of print advertising – controlling the overall style of the business and product advertising, while being relatable to each demographic reading the print material.
(Note: Billboards and outdoor media fit the bill for print media too)
Great examples of this are shown in how Nike would look in a women’s magazine, versus how they would look within a mens magazine. Two different demographics desire differently, and are thus portrayed differently in their advertising. Importantly, logos and trademarks are generally kept exactly the same between all types of media and demographics. This helps with overall recognition, and ultimately in developing Brand. Keep in mind, desire changes generationally (and sometimes inter-generationally).
But, what is Brand?
Brand is the magic word to many business operators and marketeers. Many don’t reference business or product and continually spout ‘BRAND BRAND BRAND’. But simply put, Brand is the equity that grows from having a publicly or demographically recognisable product. Recognition can vary from just product knowledge, to company knowledge. The overall goal for brand is to grow its equity. The only way to grow this equity is to make the public more aware of your product. Thus brand does have a life of it’s own and is derived from the effectiveness of your product and your marketing.
Ok, back to media
Following the advent of print media, technology continued to provide new, exciting and cheaper methods for businesses to show off their products. Television and radio gave businesses the ability to showcase product to an even wider audience, bigger than ever before. 15 and 30 sec slots placed beside specific TV shows, sports shows or news articles gave businesses great exposure to captive audiences like never before. As populations around the world grew exponentially since the 1950’s, television and radio advertising grew along with it. Print couldn’t keep up, as it required a finite resource as well as substantial money to distribute advertising to the same populations that TV and radio were easily completing.
And then came the internet
Then we invented a thing. The internet became every marketeers dream, and we are still finding new and exciting ways to use the internet to better market businesses and products. We’ll walk through some of our favourites, as well as some of the new areas of marketing that haven’t yet been deployed into our big new World.
Search. Google changed the world
We had a range of search engines in the late 90’s. It seemed that each demographic had their own preference. But suddenly in the early 2000’s everyone started using Google and it continues to be the predominant search engine today (2020).
Besides being a clean and simple user interface, delivering millions of search results, and had leading digital spider/robot software compared to their competitors, Google had one major point of difference – it had a unique advertising model that would change the business world forever.
Quite early on, web developers started to realise that users were lazy. No one wanted to type in web addresses. No one even wanted to click through categories of search in a directory to find results. Google search delivered a list of relative websites based on their search enquiry. And people loved it. And of course they only ever clicked on the listings in position 1, 2 or 3. So web developers began building websites that game-afied Google’s search algorithm. And in some ways, we continue to do this today.
Organic search is an extremely powerful method of marketing, as it is not perceived as advertising. A user is actively looking for a product/service and Google is a trusted 3rd party, recommending a product based on their search. No loud noises. No bright pictures. And for a while, no demographics. Pure simple search based marketing.
Google quite obviously needed to make some money from this amazing digital tool they invented. Little did everyone know, they were going to create one of the biggest digital advertising agencies in the world.
Did businesses want to pay to be listed in position 1 for a potential customers Google search? Hell yes. And through this simple mechanism, we had moved into a new era of marketing. No longer did we need to pay for media we didn’t use. Newspapers and television advertising revenue fell and for the first time in a long time, a media player (Google) held all the chips.
Welcome to PPC (Pay per click)
With Google’s new revenue model and technical offering to marketeers, we could present a new method of advertising for businesses. You only had to pay for an advertisement if a potential customer clicked on your advert. The results were astounding. In many cases it didn’t matter if the advertising worked or not – the important part was changing the perception of paying for newspapers or television that probably weren’t being read or watched.
Analytics, by Google
Of course, with so much new traffic to websites driven by Google, someone had to offer software to measure the traffic and measure what pages and users and times and countries and EVERYTHING that was happening on a website. Google analytics gave us the looking-glass into the future. Yet, it was still a few years away. First we had to endure Facebook breaking everything and reassembling the internet.
Facebook and socialising the internet
All hail the Zuck!
In a few brief years, through much code, phsychology and testing, a digital viral phenomenon took place that changed the internet forever. Facebook was born. The internet had its first (hc hmmm MySpace) digitally viable social platform that gave its users the confidence to give up all their private details for the sake of a digital social norm. And from all this data, we gave marketeers worldwide the access to deliver advertising in a way that changed brands considerably and how they are perceived.
So let’s recap where this all started.
Face to face, word of mouth. The 2 most powerful methods of marketing.
As businesses got bigger and bigger, the ability to meet every single customer in person became an impossibility. Newspapers, Television and ultimately the internet gave businesses the ability to reach audiences without having to meet them one by one.
Facebook (Social media) and Google gave us one clear difference in the quest to reach more people by doing less (= efficiency).
They gave us and continue to give us the next stage of demographic driven advertising – namely
- On demand or requirement driven consumer action
- Personalisation or user profile driven pre-consumer action
These two marketing activities above drive most modern retail commerce and are beginning to become relevant in other business services as well. We’ve talked briefly about the power of Google search (On Demand), now we’ll chat a bit about Personalisation.
Personalisation and the digitalisation of our social fabric
Social media is now a staple daily diet for a large percentage of our population. You probably entered in our basic info years ago and since then, social giants Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter and LinkedIn (and others… we know you’re there TicTok) have been steadily collecting profile data on all of their users. This profile data is interesting. Where traditionally profile data would be collected to ensure you are a ‘real person’, with items like licenses and accreditations etc, profile data collected these days is more behavioural and consumer driven. And it’s this profile data that modern marketeers can effectively use to better position their brands.
Social media is still a reasonably young industry. And it generates a whole lot more money from advertising revenue than some banks do. And what they can do with their advertising platform is getting more mature and complex every day.
What’s so good about social media advertising?
Comparatively, Social media can deliver advertising imagery and text to demographics you may not even know about. Current technology offered by Facebook / Instagram allows marketeers to reach unknown demographics using Facebook AI engine. This AI engine ultimately finds your correct audience and continues to hone in on it, delivering your message to similar users on a worldwide scale. This technique is quickly becoming an industry standard for all online retail shops and it gives business owners and marketeers a clear COA (Cost of acquisition) that used to be a muddied figure using traditional media models.
But what about free social media?
That’s right! Wasn’t social media meant to be the free platform for the people? Well, in theory it always will be a free product for people to post content to show their friends and family. And sometimes free delivered content does go viral – especially if it is perceived as entertaining. It is this ‘free’ platform that delivers content worldwide and saves images and birthdays and comments and so much more… that ultimately drives the biggest demographic database the world has ever seen. Hence we are seeing the digitalisation of our social fabric.
And yes. We are using it to better target potential customers through marketing.
I’m an Influencer Baby
As we continue to blur the lines between physical and real referrer based activity, the term Influencer is now being actively used within many businesses marketing action plans. Influencing through social media channels has been around since Social Media first began. We all aspired to be like the celebrities we followed. As this idea matured, businesses started discovering that niche based influencers also had a value to their brand. No longer were we just chasing social profiles with +1Million followers, suddenly you could be an influencer with just 50K followers, and generate a nice little income from it.
Simply recommending a product or brand
The beauty of influencer marketing is simply – A third party recommending a brand.
As the internet continues to mature, we’re seeing more and more that brands and business need to stop shouting loudly about themselves, and find 3rd parties to do the shouting for them. Conversion ratios improve greatly when a 3rd party showcases how great a product is, and it also gives the brand additional equity by setting the product ‘free’. By holding your products and services too close to your business space, you’ll begin strangling your brand. The biggest lesson we’re learning from influencer marketing, is that brands can grow very quickly when you give great product to the public and let them market it themselves.
*note – Influencer marketing is adjusting to COVID19 social distancing protocol, and we’re yet to see how this channel of marketing will push through current restrictions.
You’ve all heard of Google analytics. Well, it so happens that when a paid product (Google Ads) manages its own analytics product (Google Analytics) it comes as no surprise that you may see some inflated figures, where perhaps you should be seeing no figures at all. To explain further, recent studies (by us and other industry peeps) have shown pretty decent discrepancies with Real Traffic versus Google Analytics Traffic. We found with some clients that the Google Ads traffic was inflated over 800% compared to the real visitation (people actually visiting your website). It was this discovery that lead us (and many others) to begin using a 3rd party analytics company. Someone not connected to the advertising product they were measuring. Hence…. Granular Analytics.
Purpose of granular
Granular analytics serves many purposes. It’s foremost sell point – being 3rd party and not associated with any media product. It’s second biggest sell point is to correctly attribute which of your marketing channels is performing the best. By collecting User Profile data ethically, Granular Analytics can see which media a visitor comes through from on their 1st, 2nd, 3rd visit – until they make a purchase.
You can also measure funnels (visitation points through to events or purchases), correlate which events or page visits incur more purchases, and much much more. As Granular Analytics becomes more commonplace, we’ll either see Google Analytics start to lift their game as well as other analytics providers offering their services as well. This type of analytics used to generally be reserved for very high end e-commerce. It’s now applicable to almost every online business.
What comes next?
As with everything, there is no ‘cure all’ for marketing any business. Anyone that states an ROI before even looking at your business or bottom line can’t possibly know what they are talking about. Modern marketing to build brand is a complex dance between:
- Analytics driven design (research leading to infrastructure)
- Search marketing
- Social marketing
- Real touch (Person to person)
- Post consumer feedback (closing and repeating the consumer loop)
Each category of work requires its own throught and strategy. And in many cases some categories of marketing work better than others to secure acquisition. The important part is to consider every single part and test it thoroughly. Marketing mix is crucial and those that balance it perfectly, come out on top.
Sneak peaks at the future
Not for the faint of heart. If you’re already worried about being measured every step of your day, it’s about to get worse.
If you’re ok with that… then read on!
As we introduce more digital filters onto our bodies (we already have smartwatches measuring your heart rate), we would anticipate augmented advertising to start appearing. This advertising would be a natural extension from current social media user profile data and could deliver messaging to people that are hungry, thirsty, looking for love, or any other bodily or emotive measured feeling captured by our devices.
This is just another filter that would be able to deliver messaging. However VR that is ultimately used (in health, training or social) advertising messaging will be easily implemented. Imagine virtually shopping and selecting an item – and its later delivered to your house. If VR had more usership during the recent 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, this probably would have been a preferred method of shopping to maintain social distancing protocol.
Blockchain micro purchases
If we remove the layers of business and commerce from the equation, ultimately we have a transaction moving back and forth between two customers. They are both receiving something, whether a product, data, money or anything in compensation for the others action.
As wearables become more common and bluetooth or wireless transmission becomes the global norm, we’d likely see micro-transactions happening every second from actions you are taking with your body.
Imagine a health organisation gaining access to body based transactions (data movement points) 24/7 from placement in clothes, or even within the body. This data could be used to better personalised medicine practices, or to collect health data over entire populations. As the data is exchanged, blockchain keeps track of the transaction which is in turn transferred into money.
And within this data transaction lies opportunity to further add messaging or marketing for products or services.
As with everything we’ve discussed here, as technology advances so does the marketing and advertising opportunities with it. While there is always a place to use traditional marketing methods and practices, we’ll all need to keep up with the times to meet new audiences, as they embrace the future.