What is profit? After years of reading Alan Mitchell’s thoughtful columns, I’ve been left with the impression that the routes to “profitable marketing” are more than simply charging people money.
So when I read in Martin Croft’s piece on digital (once simply “online”) communities (MW last week), that “experts question whether there is any real profit to be found here”, I was left incredulous.
For while I concede that the case for user-generated content areas being valuable to advertisers has yet to be proven, the value to the brands that host the whole experience is immense. Just ask the marketers responsible for GSK’s NiQuitin smoking cessation product (who have a discussion forum) and Sony’s PlayStation (discussion forum in seven languages), or those for Wanadoo’s chatrooms and Heineken’s guestbook.
All of these brands are profiting from the time that their customers and prospects are spending with them; time that is not being spent with rival brands. And time that can be used not only to subtly reinforce the relevance of the brand and prompt an “engaged” experience, but time that can be used to cross-promote other, directly “profitable” activities too.
These days, any marketer who ignores examining and perhaps testing the relevance of digital (mobile, text-to-screen, or “traditional” online) user-generated content in order to increase the brand’s profits is arguably doing their career no favours, and their brand a major disservice too.