Social media – the superhero to save marketing?

This week, I’ve been trying to respond to a void after one of our competitors exited the market. After an internal meeting, we decided that we would try to ‘steal’ its position. Sounds like a sensible, if somewhat cynical, commercial response to this ever-changing world that we live in.

Secret Marketer

But we couldn’t agree how best to go about it, and in our dithering, the moment of opportunity was fast disappearing. In situations where customers are left with a void, speed is of the essence. At first, the sales team asked me to undertake a direct mail campaign, hoping that these orphaned customers would turn up at our door; then a mass advertising campaign positioning us as the white knight saviours, or perhaps do a deal with the administrator where it would recommend us.

My protests at the hollowness of each suggestion fell on deaf ears.

I, perhaps foolishly, then suggested a social media activity clearly articulating our solution and how we could seamlessly help these customers.

I became a hero – yes, this was the answer. So it was over to marketing to make it happen while the sales team waited by the phones, order book ready. One even suggested he would retweet my message to his 100 (probably mainly personal) followers.

This, dear readers, is the world that we live in. As well as opening new opportunities, social media is also a dangerous drug, especially in the wrong hands. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has set up a social media agency, and the saviour to all the world’s ills lies with it. Everyone knows that it’s fast, has incredible reach and, of course, is free.

While I don’t deny that there is an element of truth in all of these points, none of them are accurate. The same principles of traditional marketing ring true in social media: clear segmentation; sensible media planning; a clear proposition; and a compelling call to action.

So as I sit here, waiting for a clear brief from which to start work, I muse where did it all go wrong – when did we forget the basics of good marketing? Did our ancestors when radio first arrived, or television or the onset of digital, have these same inane conversations with the converted?

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