Caffeinated ideas and views on marketing communications

New Media

The buzz

Certain things are just not advertised, but you know about them anyway. That is the power of buzz. I think one of the most buzzed about items is Facebook. Even I am buzzing about it. Yet, you probably haven’t ever seen a Facebook ad, received a piece of mail about Facebook or picked up a Facebook brochure. In fact, if you are on it, it is because you got invited to “friend” someone you know. Or, you read about it (Facebook does engage in public/media relations). In fact, in the last couple weeks I have read two articles in women’s magazines about Facebook. One talked about the addictive quality of Facebook, and the collecting of friends, where the other discussed pros and cons versus the other large social networking site, MySpace.

I just bought some prints on Shutterfly. You never see ads for it, or its competitors like Snapfish. Yet everyone is using these sites to print out their digital photos. Or at least it seems like everyone is doing it–and that is exactly what buzz is about. Truly, buzz marketing is the ultimate type of marketing. It puts in question the future of people like me and other marketing people. Buzz depends on word of mouth. It creates an epidemic, to borrow from Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. In fact, The Tipping Point is buzz’s bible, since it explains just how the buzz phenomenon can “tip” something, that is, making it bigger and badder. According to Gladwell, ideas move through society because of three types of people: connectors, mavens and salespeople. Basically, they all influence their circles and in interconnection, they influence the larger sphere.  Facebook is a great example of something that has tipped. Today, it has become a larger phenomenon than its competitors and it is everywhere around the world.

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

Person to Person

Facebook has exploded in popularity. MySpace is super popular. There are many other social networking sites I have never even heard of. All of this points to an increase in using the Internet to connect with other people. Person to person. How is this changing marketing? For one, marketing is increasingly more targeted. It is by-passing traditional avenues and heading straight to its most likely audience. I just checked out www.gather.com. Big national stores like Borders and Starbucks have a presence there.  I wonder how their experiment is working out. Are you more likely to shop at either place because you joined a social group they sponsor on a social networking site? I guess that is the million dollar question. On the other hand, can you afford to ignore a burgeoning movement in the way people communicate with each other? 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

My newest web venture

It’s kind of funny. I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time now, and last night I went to a WNBA event here in Washington (not a basketball game but an event sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association). The event was about book publicity and basically, the big conclusion of the evening was that to publicize a book today you must be on the web. You must have a website, or a blog, or both, or even just a MySpace page. Something on the WWW. Of course, that is just the start, because you have to get people to read your stuff too. 

That got me to thinking about my area of so-called expertise, marketing communications.  Specifically, I am thinking about traditional marketing communications tools such as brochures and press releases. Are these necessary anymore, or will they become as obsolete as Windows 98?  The answer I think is yes, eventually. Today, there is  still a market that is not tech savvy. There are people who enjoy print. Eventually those people will become obsolete, if you know what I mean.  For now, I think any savvy marcomm person needs to have a complete bag of tricks–press releases, blogs, websites, printed brochures, downloadable press kits, etc.  Also, there is a whole generation of marcomm people who are not comfortable in a completely electronic environment, or don’t understand how to go about it. Or they know just a little bit and are afraid to learn. Then, there are the young ‘uns, who have been on Facebook since it started and who prefer texting to talking. We are not only communicating to this generation, but we are using them to do the communicating for us (that is, we hire them as interns, account execs, copywriters or whatever). 

In a traditional marcomm agency, be it straight PR or straight advertising or a hybrid, the upper echelon (or “management”) may still be clinging to the days before email was an alternative to a phone call and videoconferencing was super cool. Webinars and podcasts are not a substitute for a good old fashioned ad or press release. And they keep doing the same old and wondering why they are losing market share. Change is always slower for an established company. But what distinguishes effective marketing in my opinion, is understanding who the target audience is and where they get their information. Thus, if we are marketing hearing aids, perhaps print (an older skewing medium) alone will do the trick. But if we are trying to expand a market, reach younger people, then we’d be foolish to expend all efforts on traditional media. 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

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