Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Consumers chose 'recommendation by friends' over advertising. Both can work.

Mashable, the once great Techy site, has run another ridiculous story today about 'Do Consumers believe in advertising?'

It's up there with their other stories today about a woman building a prosthetic leg from Lego and the 12 penny pinching cats. It all went wrong when it was bought for 200 million usd by CNN. Anyway...

However the story has a point in one way. 

Of course Advertising works. Of course it sells, but one interesting piece from the article is an infographic. What it shows is that people mostly trust "recommendations from people I know" over other forms of advertising.

Of course too, word-of-mouth has always been the most powerful marketing tool. 

Advertising's first job is to inform - tell people that the product is available and then try to make them like it. Often referred to usefully as 'I see it, I like it, I buy it'. Without advertising, you simply wouldn't know the product exists. And if you don't know it exists, it can't go on your shopping list.

The olden days, the golden days of advertising were based on 'demonstration' where live commercials interrupted programmes and showed the product.

Consequently, the role of recommendation or word-of-mouth is now more key than ever. And Social Media fits into this part of advertising, perfectly.

Perfectly for example, through Facebook posts encouraging followers to comment/recommend; through Twitter by starting a hashtag and a conversation; through Instagram and Vine Video by showing the product and sharing it; through website video explaining it. And so on.

Skype has a role as does Google hangouts to have brands go online and talk to potential customers.

So it's this Social Media element that fits WITH advertising to encourage recommendation. 

Not that we didn't really know that..... but because it's becoming the most important feature (as the Mashable story points out), it's not getting the push it needs. Not getting the budget as traditional agencies continue to rubbish it and not getting the strategy because planners don't understand it.

It should be part of any mainstream activity - if not central to it. Advertise the product but in tandem, encourage recommendation through Social Media activity. 

People always think you Ad is "selling to me" - which it is - but if the brand offering stands up, get in deeper with purchasers. Show them how the brand helps and get them to tell their friends not through continuous, mindless, Advertising but through on-the-ground social media activity.

An online fashion show will help to sell the dress; Twitter tips on "how to" will sell the beauty products; Facebook pics and fact sheets will help show off the car; Skype programmes will help answer consumer questions on the new Financial product.....

Traditional and Digital are not mutually exclusive. They are in tandem and more powerful when they are. Ad Agencies still ignore it substantially and live in the dream that it will go away. Stopping digital is like standing on Dollymount Beach and trying to push out the tide

If advertising and agencies don't become more engaged, they will lose. 

It is after all, what the client wants. And more importantly, what the consumer buys. Recommendation. Your job is simply to encourage that.