The annual Google Top Contributor program meetup/summit travel experience has reminded me of four overriding, sometimes conflicting, but often correlating marketing trends in the past six or seven years. I think we need to build all of these elements into our marketing strategies.
Social media has become a cornerstone essential resource.
The amount of time and the percentage of users spending significant (like well more than two hours a day, and that is the average) on social media is growing; so not surprisingly, our marketing resources should be allocated more richly and intensively in the social media environment. The combination of “native advertising” (advertorial marketing content) with demographic selection tools — and the incredibly granular one on one personal response and communication capacity — makes social media incredibly effective.
Mobility: We are consuming an incredible percentage of our marketing inputs from mobile and portable devices.
On a practical level, this means your website certainly needs to be responsive; that is, adapted to mobile and tablet use. If you can frame a practical application that provides intrinsic value to your potential clients, you may have a marketing home-run.
Personalization counts: The “mass” has lost its power in the media.
To some extent you can auto generate personalization, but the strongest form has a genuine human touch behind it. One one level, by responding to one-on-one inquiries or social media posts (in many cases, depending on your market, with 24-7 access), you incur significant costs, but these aren’t as great as you might think, especially with software and tools to speed up the interaction and manage the communication/call response. Of course, your communications — you might call them “brand ambassadors” have to know their stuff and be both respectful and effective in relating to users/clients.
The real human touch still has real value. It is important to remember face-to-face community.
Google, with all of its technology and automation, clearly gets that, as the company expands its Top Contributor program and encourages us to recruit new volunteers to the community. On a practical level, the reason is leverage — the number of engaged users with the status in relationship to the overall user/client base is still tiny — so just a slight improvement in the quality of this communication has massive ripple effects.
The company (and Top Contributors) can certainly communicate digitally — and video “hangouts” are easy to arrange on smartphones and tablets (and this group of users would not be technologically challenged in adapting these tools) — but we still receive plane tickets, hotels, and plenty of food and drink at the live meet-ups and summits once a year.
Why go to the personal experience expense? I think the reason is we, after all, are still humans, and all of the artificial intelligence in the world cannot replace (at least for the immediate future) the relationships, connections, perceptions and multidimensional insights possible with real, rather than virtual, interaction. Conclusion: We need to connect and be with our key clients, employees, subcontractors and community — maybe not “in your face” every day, but at least once a year.
I welcome your comments and observations, either through the comments function or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.