How often have you put off buying something because of an over enthusiastic sales person or when on line too many options, discounts and deals? It seems to be true that most people hate being sold to but love to buy, or is it. If this was the case most of the sales teams and marketing that is out there would have died away years ago.
Truth is they haven’t and even more time and money is spent on selling than ever before. So what’s the catch? Truth is information transfer, communications and knowledge or data is bigger than ever and everyone feels empowered the more they have. Well there is a limit and sometimes we all feel over loaded by advertising and promotions. So it is just about how information gets to us that can make us uneasy.
Face to face selling is a highly professional skill, ask any politician, and done correctly is the most powerful way of communicating and ultimately changing someone’s behaviour which in the situation of need will result in a sale. In fact most organisations focus on getting close to their customers and interacting with them on the most personal level they can. This method is, of course, way too expensive for most consumer goods and food products so the next best thing was to at least allow customers to sample products generally in store.
But how do you do this in the new era of online shopping and social media? Well this is where the changes are taking place rapidly in the way we get the information to make a decisions. It seems we all want to interact with other people to make decisions. We therefore are more likely to make a buying decision if we told about it from a friend or colleague. Yes we are being sold but by someone we trust to give us good advice. So, you say, that’s being going on for years what’s the difference today? Well today we can get trusted information very effectively and quickly using social media, we trust the online brands like Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest. So what happens when friends or acquaintances we sort of know on Facebook start talking about stuff we are interested in? Do we trust them, are we being sold, do we care as long as we feel the information, the data is good? Well welcome to the world of blogging.
As the fastest growing area of marketing today bloggers are very interesting. Many are now full time freelance business people employed by manufacturers and brands to be their new sales people. They are given products, they test them, video them and publish on the social media. They fit every social sector from old to young and millions of people follow them every day. They are followed because they are authentic in the eyes of the follower. Their brand is in step with the viewers and as long as they do no step over an imaginary line it seems they produce the same outcome of meeting in the coffee shop by your friend and you are shown the new pram just purchased, which you think would just the job for you.
It seems that bloggers also perform an incredible job that just used to take huge cash and time to achieve. Bloggers have become brands in themselves but they are also capable of launching and creating new brands. In fact in the past celebrities were used with very powerful results to build brand trust. The classic story was the birth of Olympus as the camera everyone had to have because David Bailey was featured using it in the TV commercials which were run on broadcast TV night after night. But today everyone knows that celebrities will turn up to the opening of an envelope if cash is involved! Somehow bloggers seem to get away with it even though they are being paid to sell!
So what’s happening? It’s human nature perhaps. We are visiting shops less and when we do there is less opportunity for interaction and then we feel we are being sold to so we don’t like it. Gone have the days when you went to an apartment store and was saved by the same person, you trusted, each time. But as people we need feel most comfortable receiving information and data from other people, we therefore have found the best solution and that is following people online.
This incredible move, and it really is incredible, has created other outcomes which has magnified certain brand effects which mean the speed a brand can become ubiquitous is far faster than ever before. When a blogger created content that as it is called ‘goes viral’ the brand is seen by millions of people worldwide. In the past the only way to expose a brand, and then just nationally, was using broadcast TV. Having created many 30 second commercial for just this job I know how expensive and time consuming it was for the manufacturer and subject to failure if something in the news media stopped people watching Coronation Street! As an agency, however, we didn’t lose out too much! With bloggers this cannot happen.
But blogging is not a predictable and technical solution, well nor was advertising? Advertising and marketing was all about market research, clever creative ideas and in some cases a format that seemed to work. For instance the format for a consumer goods product used in the home would be a man showing a women how good the soap powder got her clothes whiter, totally sexist but it worked. There are no such guidelines for blogging except generally it is a product demonstration. Remember the blogger who said ‘Will it blend’ and put items including a mobile phone into a Blendtec blender. Was this just a blogger with a clever idea? Unfortunately not it was actually written by a copywriter from an advertising agency which then recorded the piece in the format of a blogger.
So do real bloggers exist or is this just clever advertising agencies using the internet as a new media to promote products through great creative work delivered by bloggers who have built a following?
The answer is, of course, not clear and ultimately the consumer is clever and can generally ‘feel’ authenticity. What’s clear is that a clever creative idea will always work even if it is ‘produced’. People like brand new ideas…… call me!