Razorfish, the global marketing agency, has released “Fluent” a report on social influence marketing. There is a big buzz on influence and perception or sentiment analysis towards brands going on recently – and I think it is a small red herring; a phase the internet is going through. Whether customers buy is the really important metric to know. What leads to that buying decision is where your business development skills can be put to work.
I had a read through the report – it has a reasonably short summary of findings and a detailed appendix detailing the project methodology (really interesting if you like stats, research and algorithms).
The main statements that affect business development and how you should change your biz dev tactics and strategies are
- The world expects brands to “do” not just push messages
I think this applies equally to B2C and B2B brands – showing a leadership in a niche can be demonstrated by activity. It needs to be activity that benefits the customer in some way. I worked with Websters Accountants as they set up their site about auditing service charges for multi-occupied buildings. We set a strategy for them to “give away” a service of offering an aggregated news feed about service charge accounting. It’s a subject covered in a range of journals, blogs and websites – bringing together into one place is a service to their customers and prospects. An example of a B2B brand doing something, not just pushing messages.
- If actions speak louder than advertising (and they will), what is your brand doing?
Showing off your CSR is no longer enough. Acting on the brand message, being the public ambassador of what your brand stands for and delivering on your promises in consistent ways (not necessarily kookie show-off ways) is what gets you noticed in the long term.
- Social influence has an equal effect on active and less active users
This is definitely borne out by Seymour, my 90 year old relation who follows me on Plaxo and declares himself delighted to know what I’m up to. He’s a reader and a watcher rather than a participant in the conversation. But be clear, he is “in the conversation” but just not saying much right now.
- Increased reliance on personal influence networks for purchase decisions rather than branding messages
Obvious really. When does your belief in the marketing message get most cynical – when you are close to purchase.
- As customers move through the sales funnel, reliance on word of mouth increases effectiveness the closer to decision you are
- Independent blogs carry more weight than corporate blogs – but these are helpful in the awareness phase (page 12)
And so there is a place for corporate messaging – but be clear about where it has influence and where it does not.
- Brands must focus on value exchanges
Again, as Don Peppers said – I give you something, you give me something back. Now that was in the era of early stage CRM but it was in the context of getting data to populate your database…. something only the customer knows about herself. What can you give me of value and what can I give you of value first?
Take a look at this summary diagram. Spells it out neatly.
Social influence hasn’t changed – but it has moved online in a way that marketers can track, measure and participate in. Now that is something worth thinking about.
Actions for your brand / business / enterprise:
- What are the characteristics of your marketing communications at each stage of the sales funnel now?
- Where do you lack material?
- Can you find places online where those conversations are being recorded?
- Can you align the conversations and the ‘sentiment’ with your brand to stages in the sales funnel?
- Are there ways to adapt your marketing and customer services operations to step into those conversations in an appropriate and brand-aligned way?