This morning, while I was issuing a tsunami of Happy Easter wishes to friends and family, I noticed a post on Facebook by my colleague Ben Foster, praising this post by Andrew Chen, where he states in very concise terms the conundrum faced by marketeers in the wake of the Social Media revolution.
However smart and creative and innovative you are, the response rate of what you do will degrade over time as its novelty wears off. Have a look at the results of this comprehensive eyetracking study by Jakob Nielsen:
The human brain learns very quickly the telling signs of a trap (perhaps an inheritance from our fighting ancestors) and is programmed to avoid it. Marketing is therefore a perennial hide-and-seek game between the market-eer and the market-ed in which I hide my stuff in places where he does not expect it and – for a while – my success rate increases.
However, this does not last long because humans are good at learning and, the more initially successful a campaign, the quicker it wears off because many users learn and fewer and fewer people are tricked.
Is there another solution?
Not unlike SEO, where experts try to game the Google algorythm while Google keeps changing it to stay one step ahead, there is a more radical solution represented by the quest for relevance.
In other words, instead of “gaming” the system, submit to it, by making your proposition relevant to your target audience. Recognizing we do not control the system anymore is a first important step, but it does not mean we cannot manage the system; in fact, once you understand what’s relevant to your audience, you can morph your content / story / messages / product in such a way as to make it interesting to them, thereby achieving your marketing objective.
Stairway to Relevance
In essence, this is what our approach is all about: a repeatable process whose efficiency can be monitored and measured to break down the “relevance” fuzzy concept into smaller and more manageable steps:
- INSIGHT: or deriving intelligence from the web itself, by understanding who, where and what our audience is talking about around the topic of our interest.
- CONTENT STRATEGY: apply this understanding to make our content more appealing and interesting, by matching the ontology of THEIR interests to OUR marketing messages
- ONLINE ASSET: or, let’s make sure we have a place of our own where this content is stored (whatever this asset is)
- PROMOTION: use all possible channels to inform the right people, in the right places that some of the answers they’re looking for are now available on our Online Asset. This includes advertising, social network engagement and good ol’ conversation marketing.
- ACCRUE A COMMUNITY: slowly but surely, people will start gravitating around masses of relevant content, accelerating with their presence and referrals the accretion of the community
- FEED into the sales funnel: as community member “mature” in their opinion-forming process, they eventually get closer to the magic purchasing moment and can therefore be connected to our sales efforts.
Obviously this is a schematic view of the process and – equally obviously – it does not look at a wider issue: once you have started the transformation of your company into a Digital Enterprise, what are the the implications of this atrnsformation? Can it be contained to a client-facing domain? What about leadership? What about other stakeholders?
Food for more posts…