Never before has the pace of change accelerated to the point at which consumers experience it today. Ever evolving realities penetrate the social fabric and structural foundations of how consumers experience economic, environmental and social realities. The flow of information has intensified too, propagating change at a rapid pace, with media channels that are now available fundamentally influencing consumer behaviour. The marketing buzz of media noise lies far closer to informational malaise in the twenty first century.
Marketers in this new environment, daily, continue to dissect and attempt to make sense of not only what to communicate and how to leverage the multiple channels available but rather also, how the constant flow of information affects consumer behaviour and brand reputation. “Advances in technology has streamlined consumer’s lives but,” says Bonnie de Klerk of boutique advertising consultancy Blue Planet, “it has added significant layers of complexity and, as we know, media consumption.” Simplicity, she says, may be the answer as increasingly complex campaigns attempt to cross-pollinate between differing mediums.
While communication mediums should never be seen in isolation, she says, simplicity should govern the fundamental bottom line of any campaign. “Each medium should enjoy its own strategy as consumer behaviour in relation to different information inputs is different. Television campaigns that send consumers to abstract domain websites may significantly increase online traffic but I imagine that site bounce rates are high.” De Klerk believes that full messaging should be contained in whatever is crafted for a particular medium. “Do not send me to a site called “thepleasureoftheopenroad.com” when all I seek is price and specification after seeing an ad. I would rather visit the brand site.”
Social Media, still a new and continually evolving medium, has no golden goose solution nor a one size fits all strategic impetus. “Measurement seems to be quantitative across the board with brands seeking mountains of ‘Likes’ on Facebook or followers on Twitter. So what?” De Klerk believes that soon quality and levels of engagement with consumers across social media platforms will be preferable to incentivised online campaigning. “Social Media should be seen as a media ownership opportunity for brands as opposed to traditional advertising thinking of brand push, which so many local sites continue to do.
Voluntary brand engagement is key – if someone ‘Likes’ you, it does not mean they would ever return to engage with you.” It is not about listing 3 status updates a week, it is about living the message online, understanding consumer behaviour and a rapidly changing socio-economic environment. “Then we’ll be talking.”
De Klerk believes that it is possible to mask Japanese management principles over the convergence of media and information channels for marketers. “The assumption is that the most important asset of any brand is the ability to penetrate and the individual performance of each communication channel, which in turn critically improves the collective impact of any campaign or long term brand equity exercise.”
Ultimately, the only crucial element, really, is that campaigns, be it traditional or social media campaigns should ultimately have one very main and important objective and that is to increase sales - put more money in the tills. This way you know your campaign has worked. Simple, isn't it?
We need to rethink our thinking, she says, and choose our channels wisely, behave differently in each environment.