Friday, August 28, 2009

GenX Marketing Advice from Forrester Research

Targeting Generation X? Try Word of Mouth

Nate Elliott[Excerpted from 8/28/2009 Forrester Research article by Nate Elliott]

If you're a marketer targeting Gen X consumers (between 30 and 43), and you're not using social media or influence marketing, it's time to reevaluate your strategy.

This audience is surprisingly engaged with social media. They're more active than average on nearly every rung of our social technographics ladder -- especially as joiners, with 59% of Gen X consumers telling us they use social networks at least once each month. Best of all, many are using social influence to make product recommendations: 42% say they often tell friends about the products and services that interest them.

So if you want to leverage this sharing behavior to reach Gen X consumers (or any other socially active online audience, for that matter), what should you do?

  • Give all your customers the tools they need to share. Tools like ShareThis and AddThis make it easy to add sharing functionality to your site. And don't forget: as valuable as Twitter and Facebook can be for driving word of mouth, most people make product recommendations through private channels like e-mail and IM.
  • Find -- and leverage -- your brand advocates. Mine your sales database to find your most loyal and valuable customers, and run surveys to find users who think most highly of your brand and are most likely to pass the word along.
  • Don't forget the power of offline influence. Online influence can work wonders, but offline influence is both more common (see Figure 11) and more powerful (see page 18). Savvy marketers are using social media to organize offline events where customers can energize each other around products and brands, and to create and manage ambassador programs that extend both online and off.

My Take

Nate's practical advice and clear data is compelling.

Bottom line - if your target clients are aged 30 to 43, they're using social media to talk about you. It's a race between you and your competitors - the earlier you engage your customers and neighbors on social media there the more new sales you'll book.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SMEs' Future is Connecting With 'Fans'

The Problem With 'Fans'
by Joe Marchese
Excerpted from 8/25/2009 MediaPost Blogs Follow the author on Twitter @joemarchese (

Fans, by definition, have raised their hand to indicate some sort of affiliation to a brand. The intent of that affiliation can vary widely, depending on the individual. Perhaps the "fan" simply wanted to tell her friends about a brand she liked, one time. Perhaps the "fan" wanted to get the coupon offered by a brand for becoming a fan. Or perhaps, and this is the one the brands want to hear, the "fan" wants to hear from and talk to the brand going forward.

Whatever the reason, an individual has opted to form a loose connection to a brand within social media. There is no doubt that this is the next generation of CRM (customer relationship management), and will be an incredibly valuable tool as brands better learn how to communicate in a social media setting -- but it is no way a complete answer to social media marketing.

Consider the number of brands the average person interacts with in his or her daily life. Now consider how many of those brands a person would be willing to become a fan of. Also, in what setting does marketing to your most loyal fans only constitute the whole of your marketing efforts?

The power of social media marketing is to reach out to people who are not already fans, outside the setting of direct communication between brands and people -- instead generating conversation between people about brands. The difference is between Nike talking to me on Facebook, versus a friend and I talking to each other about Nike on Facebook. Authenticity is found in peer-to-peer communication, not just within a core group of loyal fans, but reaching out to the community at large.

Activating this strategy will unlock significant reach and generate the ROI brands are looking for to justify social media investments (re: new customers).

People are spending more time in social media all the time. Adapting best practices to leverage fans/friends/followers is a must, and should be a major component of every social media marketing plan.

My Take

Marchese touches on several consumer trends:

  • Increasing tendency of consumers to affiliate with brands (substitute Small to Medium Sized Enterprises - SMEs - for the purpose of this commentary)
  • These fans' motivation ranges from sheer loyalty to desired connection to reward
  • As consumers increasingly use social media, it is an ideal place for SMEs to connect with loyal and prospective customers. In fact, adapting best practices to leverage fans/friends/followers is a "*must".

These trends are early indicators of the emerging social economy which will recognize and incorporate social media as the most valuable advertising channel. The $100B US local advertising market will increasingly shift to social media.