Social media (or new media) gets so much hype and traditional media is just so easy to bash that we forget both have their place (and tactics). The real problem comes when businesses rely solely on traditional media, especially when they ignore what’s being said about their brands on social media, or when they use tactics meant for traditional media on their social media platforms.
Traditional media and social media each have their place. Hence, it’s not a choice, but a system that effectively combines both traditional media and social media into 1 campaign that creates superior ROI.
Maybe a little case study will help. Today, I’ll share my client, Groupsurfing, preparing to introduce their first product, hexsee, into the marketplace.
hexsee provides true social interactivity by creating a private layer over any website. Invited users interact in this layer, leaving comments directly over the content and moving independently or together across the internet discovering solutions. A bride might use hexsee with her wedding party to discover dresses, venues, or services. A traveler might use hexsee with their family to plan the perfect vacation. A shopper might invite knowledgeable friends to find the perfect product, a sports enthusiast use friends to construct the perfect fantasy football team, a reader might use hexsee for a virtual book club, or a teacher might construct an interactive learning module by combining websites and questions.
When asked to join a client on their pre-launch adventures, they already had a logo design and a prototype of the product. My first task was to develop a clear idea of what the product was and determine how to reach its target market. The co-founders were both tech types — engineering and development — and needed a concise way to convey the benefits and uses of hexsee, rather than the technical features.
But, more than that, they needed a strong user base to support the valuation. My goal was to have 10,000 registered users within 6 months.
Strategy before tactics
Even before discussing traditional media and social media, which are really just tactics, it’s important to lay the groundwork. And that means developing a detailed marketing strategy, relying heavily on understanding your product, your competitors, and your likely consumers.
If you’ve never created a marketing strategy, it’s a time-consuming, but necessary step before starting any kind of marketing. I’ve detailed steps for creating a marketing plan in earlier posts. Plus, there’s a Slideshare to help — BTW, it’s received over 45,000 views so a bunch of folks must think it’s valuable.
Laura Lake has this to say about branding:
Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.
Her definition is much more inclusive and accurate than the AMA definition of branding, which reduces branding to a design endeavor. According to the AMA, a brand is a:
name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers
Sure, design is important, and consistent use of your design across media helps, but branding is really much more than your logo and name. Branding is the hologram that is your brand — a 3-dimensional image of what your brand is, what it does, what problems it solves, and who it’s meant for.
My goal at hexsee, which already employed a great logo reflective of its name and what it does, was to get that logo onto everything we did and get it in the hands of our target market. So, we ordered t-shirts for team members to wear, water bottles and stickers to put in the hands of buyers, and other promotional items used as incentives to get new subscribers.
But, more important, I built an identity for the brand that resonated with potential users. hexsee went from a product that took a couple of pages to explain, to the simple tagline — true social interactivity — with a 1 line value proposition:
No more cutting and pasting, adventures with friends
Only after you’ve identified your target market (and gotten to know them), your competition and the market environment are you ready to decide on tactics including communication strategies including traditional media and social media.
Rather than an either-or strategy, combining traditional media and social media into an integrated marketing communication strategy works best for many businesses — and hexsee is one of them.
Integrated marketing communication builds on the reality that folks need to see your message several times, in different communication channels, according to Forbes. Even Millenials, the most digitally savvy consumers, combine physical shopping with mobile apps in a single shopping excursion.
Hence, traditional media and social media combined with mobile marketing to form a cohesive marketing strategy. But, don’t try doing the same campaign with the same message in both traditional media and social media. That’s doomed for failure. Instead, craft different campaigns on different platforms to optimize ROI.
Here’s what I’m doing for a client, with a target market of time-stressed 25-45-year-old women. This strategy mirrors successful aspects used in marketing Twitter and Facebook.
Both Twitter and Facebook focused on capturing users in their local area. The major benefit of a local focus early on is that 1) you’re integrated into the social fabric of your local community and 2) you get a lot more bang for your limited bucks.
And, event marketing really capitalizes on both local benefits.
Using Constant Contact, we created QR Codes and Text-to-Join numbers (text hexsee to 22828) to build our subscriber base — thus integrating digital and real worlds.
Registrations also initiated an email marketing campaign designed to keep subscribers interested until the product launch (planned for 3 months later) and motivate them to get their friends to subscribe.
Here we used a strategy employed successfully by other businesses — using the law of scarcity to stimulate subscribers. The very nature of hexsee, while not a social network, works by encouraging friends to join. Otherwise, there’s no one to go on adventures with. Email marketing hit this point and, while functionally the software doesn’t require your friends to join, we suggested they’d want their own account and spaces in the Beta release were filling up fast — which is really true.
hexsee uses Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ for very deliberate reasons. Mainly, I didn’t have the bandwidth to maintain a myriad of social networks, so I chose social networks that fit our needs. I also tapped my personal social networks because they were well established, large, and engaged.
- Twitter made sense because we could use hashtags coupled with event hashtags to amplify our message.
- YouTube was essential because we can demo the product and do side-by-side comparisons of how easy it is versus cutting and pasting.
- Google+ makes sense because it’s Google and Google still controls 70% of search. All those +1’s earned on Google+ impact your SERPs (how close to #1 you show up in search).
Each network uses a different format so I craft individual messages for individual networks — relying heavily on video and images to stimulate interest.
Content marketing is an important part of our strategy. Currently, we’re curating content likely to interest our target market. Our new website features a blog where we’ll also craft content that’s valuable for our target market to drive traffic to the website.
And it worked. Signups went from about 2% to 25% of the audience we reached — a whopping 1250% increase leveraging a budget of only about $500.
Of course, we’re not stopping there. We’re planning some interesting guerilla marketing for SXSW in March, some traditional PR after the product launches in December, and continuing strategies that are already working for us.
Stay tuned to see if we’re able to sustain our growth.
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