Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers.
At the beginning of time, it all started with people recommending products to other people, now called word of mouth marketing. It is simple, you have a good experience with a brand or product and then you share your experience with a friend. This was so effective that tobacco and liquor companies in the 20th Century used ‘whisper campaigns’, where they would send attractive people to bars to speak loudly about the products.
Next was the emergence of Television and Newspapers where national and global brand marketers emerged and the mass market was born. Marketers became truly competitive and a lot of effort had to be put into marketing to create a differentiated brand. As a result big global players enjoyed a monopolistic like market as they had enough money to spend on marketing keeping small and new competitors under foot.
Then we welcomed the digital era, with so much happening every second it is hard to keep up, and thus hard to monopolise. People online interact with opinions for and against brands. This is spread faster, wider and influences people to purchase. If multi-billion dollar marketers are not liked they are thrown down by consumers overnight. Small but good marketers also getting overnight popularity without spending any marketing money.
An overview of the good, the bad and the ugly – quite literally.
Nestle - A Matter of Censorship
Starting with the worse, would be the use of palm oil in chocolate products which affects the rainforest. Campaigners from Greenpeace publicly positioned themselves against Nestle and Cadbury’s. Raising awareness of the negative effects the brands had by infographics and targeting their Facebook pages.
Nestle took a hostile approach, saying, “we welcome your comments, but please don't post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic--they will be deleted." A Nestle rep diving into the comments of the thread with responses like "Oh please...it's not like we're censoring everything to allow only positive comments" didn't calm things down.
Nestle’s debacle of deleting negative responses in 2010 only lead to this being a newsworthy piece and blew up in their face. What we can see is the downsides of operating such a public forum to welcome consumer comments.
Tripadvisor - an Issue of Freedom of Speech
Now on to the Ugly... Tony and Jan stayed at the Broadway Hotel for a weekend, and unfortunately they were unhappy with their stay. Like many of us they went straight to Tripadvisor to air their concerns. Two days after the review went live Tony and Jan were charged £100. Apparently in the small print of the hotel contract it said you would be charged for leaving a bad review!
Tony, who paid £36 for a double room, said the details of the charge were in the booking documents, but his wife did not have her glasses on and signed without reading the small print. This raised a national issue with trading standards, should you ever be allowed to charge for negativity? What does this mean from Freedom of speech?
Just a couple of weeks back Fox news caused a stir saying that Birmingham is populated entirely by Muslims. "In Britain, it's not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don't go in," said Fox News presenter.
People took to twitter to express their outrage and disbelief at this ignorance, and before long #FoxNewsFacts was trending. This is hugely damaging to Fox News as their brand is based on being credible and armed with the right facts.
Now on to the Good, Spotify has social media ties with Facebook and Twitter to demonstrate when your friends are listening to Spotify, and even what they are listening to. This has been a huge help for Spotify as a brand, and has taken the traditional marketing method of ‘spreading the word’, but online.
What Digital Marketing encourages is for brands and businesses to actively work on their online profile. They have to be accountable, and keep up with the latest trends, rather than one off expensive offline TV spots which will convince the end user to buy the products. The most important thing is to be part of the conversation in a positive way.