It is said that John F. Kennedy was America’s first television President. Barack Obama has shown that he is the nation’s first ‘Social Media’ President!
The super fast advancements in technology and the growth of the internet have changed the marketing landscape totally. Its impact was seen the most in the Presidential campaigns of Obama and Romney. This time, Obama’s campaign strategies were totally different from the ones he used in 2008. Yes, he once again used social media, but he used it more scientifically. This time, he had a huge team of ‘boffins’ (data analysts) headed by a new ‘Chief Scientist’ Rayid Ghani, whose job was to scientifically analyze all the data and use it to plan Obama’s various marketing strategies. For example, the team found out that in 2008, it had used the “Sign up now” button to gather followers on Facebook; but changing it to “Learn more” was far more effective in getting people to register in 2012. Each plan was tested, retested, analyzed and then implemented. A huge team of data analysts holed up in what was nicknamed ‘The Cave’ sat day in and day out crunching numbers and planning each move. That was the secret to Obama’s success.
The social media landscape is, after all, more cluttered and much different now than it was four years ago; so this time, it needed to be handled differently too. Obama showed us the most effective way of handling it.
RESPOND TO THE CONSUMER
The consumer talks to you in many different ways, and the most successful marketer is one who listens most intently. Today, most marketers do listen to their consumers, but the ones who can respond the fastest will win in the future. This is the new rule of the game. This is also called ‘adaptive marketing’, and both Obama and Romney showed the corporate world how to adapt real fast.
Every aspect of your marketing campaign has to learn to ‘adapt’. Nothing can be static, not even ad campaigns. If Romney got a reaction from the audience for a particular point during his speech, that point was turned into a small online video ad spot soon enough. If an online ad got a positive response from the viewers, it was soon made into a newspaper ad. Gone are the days when past experience, intuition and creativity decided your advertising strategies and media buying plans. With so much clutter in the market place, you need to have the ability to gather all possible data about your consumer, analyze it and use it to plan your move; and most importantly, change your move according to the changes in the preferences of your consumer. Obama’s team sitting in ‘The Cave’ used to process the data and run it through 66,000 computer simulations every night to figure out Obama’s chances of winning in the swing states. The next morning, the results were used to help him plan his next move, in fact his every move. Like for example, a study of old data collected for Obama’s campaign revealed that in the West Coast, George Clooney was the man who attracted the women in the age group of 40-49 the most. That was also the group that was rich and most able to donate. So a promotional event ‘Chance to dine in Hollywood with Clooney’ was created. In the East Coast, it was Sarah Jessica Parker who would work, so the next Dinner with Barack contest was born: a chance to eat at Parker’s West Village brownstone!
Media, too, was bought on the basis of data analysis. TV ads were planned according to the potential voters’ ‘browser history’. When you surf the internet, you leave a history and data miners are using this to know you better, figure out which TV programmes you are most likely to watch and put their ads there. So this time, Obama’s political ads were not only aired on news channels (as has been the case with political ads all these years); rather, you saw him on Discovery Channel on programmes like “The Walking Dead’, et al. Barack was there where his voters were (there were no Romney ads here incidentally!).
Campaigns of the future will be planned keeping in mind the likes of the consumers. Amazon does it. It knows the books that you have bought or browsed through and it sends you suggestions on what is new and of interest to you. KLM Airlines now offers a unique feature wherein travelers can decide who they want to sit next to by linking their Facebook profiles to your flight.
With technology advancing so much thanks to the mobiles, the tablets and the smart TVs, it’s become easy to know your customers. In fact, a recent study in UK revealed that 75% of consumers who had a relationship with the company were happy to share their personal information with it, for it made their lives easier. Everyday, he is daunted with zillions of options. If someone could pick out a few that suited him the best, the consumer would appreciate it.
Soon, we would be in an era of ‘IP-addressable TV sets’, and advertisers would be showing us ads of only those products that we are interested in (after analyzing our browser history!)! As our interests would change, so would the ads we see! Soon, campaign planners would know us better than us!!
So the brand, which can get the maximum data about its consumers and analyze it best, would be the most successful brand in the future. The brand, which responds the fastest to consumer opinions, is the one that is most likely to succeed.
Respond to consumers yet again
Apart from understanding your consumers’ likes and dislikes and responding to them by customizing your marketing strategies, brands have to also find more and more ways to engage with their customers and talk to them first hand. The growth of social networking sites has made this most imperative. When these sites started, they gave marketers an opportunity to connect to their consumers (through Twitter, Facebook et al). Today, many brands are connecting with their buyers through these sites, but very few are engaging them. Even fewer are listening to them and responding back. Walmart is one such company, which maintains a keen vigilance on the social networking websites. Once a consumer tweeted, “Sold Out@Target we want more @Boss_Starz Season1DVDs”. Walmart replied to the disgruntled customer, “Hi Nicole-@Boss_Starz fans can pick up Season One online here: bit.ly/MJ9F6c or at their local Walmart.” The consumer had a problem with the department store Target and Walmart saw this as an opportunity to win some brownie points and simultaneously get the competitor’s consumer to visit its store.
This year, Coca-Cola became the first retail brand to pass the 50 million mark in terms of Facebook fans. Coke has been working quietly towards increasing its presence on social networking sites; for it believes in the simple rule that its Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing, stated, “Fans are twice as likely to consume and 10 times more likely to purchase than non-fans.” Coke considers these social networking sites as ‘social telephones’, and they seldom let them go unanswered, which is why their ‘customer service strategy’ has changed. Today, Coke has increased the number of employees in its ‘Twitter Response Team’ and reduced the team strength of its ‘tele-calling team’. Coke has recently launched a new white packaging for its product and it’s using this to engage its vast community on Facebook. It’s asking them to send in ideas on how to save the Arctic and polar bears. These companies have mastered the art of responding to consumers and interacting with potential consumers in a way so that their loyalty towards their brand increases.
A research done by Maritz Research Company revealed that a whole lot of companies are active on Twitter, giving information about their products, new launches and new services; but very few ‘respond’ to their customers. The research also brought out an interesting fact that 49% of those surveyed said that they expected the company to read their tweets and respond to them. The older the respondent was, the more they expected the company to respond to them. Out of those who did receive a response from the company, around 83% said they loved it. So if you are not responding, you might be losing out your customers to competitors.
Wars were fought in the battlefields decades ago, and then they were fought in retail outlets. However, in future, wars will be fought in the virtual world. The one who masters the art of interacting with his customers and of engaging his customers in a dialogue is the one who will win.
In a nutshell, marketing today is not just about the 4Ps – Price, Product, Place & Promotion – rather, it’s about the new 4Ps with the customer in focus.
Permission – to talk to you (customer)
Perception – understanding what you want.
Proximity – designing strategies and customizing them to suit you.
Participation – involving you in as many ways as possible.
You will now have to keep these 4Ps in mind while formulating your marketing strategies. The social media is changing us, our lives and our marketing theories too. Move with the times and the times demand that you connect well with your customer and most importantly, respond quickly… or else perish!