3 Brand Marketing Trends That Will Continue

by Eric Tsai

3 brand marketing trends

When you hear something enough times, it may be a fad.  But when you start to see email spam about it, you know it’s a trend.

That’s the case with marketing trends such as email marketing and social media.

The problem with trends is that it’s usually a lagging indicator which means to seize the opportunity you may need to be an early adopters to reap the rewards.

If adopting new strategy and implementing fresh tactics sounds too risky, just take a look at the troubled newspaper and magazine companies and you’ll realize what I mean.

Similar to technology innovation, brand strategy is taking on an increasingly strategic role focusing not just on the bottom line but the ability to produce desirable financial outcomes.  It’s no surprise that the most innovative brands also fail more frequently, it’s the nature of the tried-and-true culture.

However, it takes discipline, research, analysis and creativity to find the right fit that works for your organization. Whether you’re promoting your personal brand or your corporate brand, here are the 3 brand marketing trends to look for in 2010:

1.Brands Must Become More Social Online

It’s no secret that B2B or B2C customers have been talking about your industry and your brand. Now with social media it’s simply going to be “on the record” somewhere over the internet, searchable and conversable.

If you can deal with customers in person, why couldn’t you deal with them online?

Engagement with your audience creates brand awareness, increase brand loyalty and the opportunity to get feedback that can help to improve your product and services.  Social engagement encourages crowdsourcing, use it wisely it can energize both you and your audience.

Provide transparency in what you do and demonstrate authenticity in what you say are the keys to building your online “street cred.” Organizations must look at the bigger picture and realize the emerging trend of social business branding and how it will impact all aspect of the company from internal collaboration to external engagement.

Becoming more social for brands means establishing a collaborative infrastructure within the organization to support the core brand strategy. There is no doubt that consumer wants to engage through social media so if brands don’t get into it, consumers will leave.

Ideas for action: Learn the tools of the trade in social media and (please!) put someone that cares about your brand to the task.

Research and identify where you customers are at talking about you, listen and monitor before you jump in.  Analyze the conversation around any product, topics, or category and identify any detractors and advocates to take actions.

More importantly learn to communicate well online, respond on time, be clear and to the point.  Provide value when interacting with your audience, focus on helping not selling and always deliver relevant and effective communications.

In addition, make sure you have a policy in place so you have a focused, consistent and cohesive approach in reacting to the situation regardless of which platform you’re using. The bottom line is that social media engagement without governance is a recipe for disaster.

It’s possible that your customers may not be on an open social network but on several discussion boards (forums/BBS), a private professional community, or even a popular blog where comments serve as dialogues.  speak to your customers directly to identify where they get their information, use a survey and provide rewards if needed.

Myths to consider: We can’t quantify the ROI (return on investment), so let’s just not measure them.  First of all, there are ways to measure all the marketing activities whether they’re meaningful to your organization is another story (yes you want the meaningful ones!).

The important thing is to cultivate accountability in your actions so you get results that can give you the insight to make real informed decisions.

My recommendation is to rank your marketing priorities that are most likely to pay off or generate the impact your want first.  If your strategy is to aim for awareness and exposure, then put reach and volume first instead of experience and frequency.

Keep in mind that you need to be able to quantity to a certain degree so you don’t drain your marketing resource and budget.

2.Shift in Value Perception Creates Opportunities for Brands

Generic brands are nothing new especially in the grocery store where the house brands are marketed and sold side by side with the leading brands.

The economy has shifted the perception of value fundamentally into a do-more-with-less and value-for-money mode.

According to the latest IRI Times & Trends Report: Game-Changing Economy Taking Private Label to New Heights, “private label unit share has grown 1.2 points to 22.8% and dollar share has grown 0.7 points to 17.6% across all outlets in the past 12 months.” Simply put, private label brands are gaining momentum across all tiers of product categories from premium tier to value tier because they have the advantage to compete on quality as well as price.

This represents a significant opportunity for less known brands (startups, SMBs, personal brands) to compete for new businesses while leading brands still has their eyes on cutting costs (overheads, infrastructure) and reorganizing operations.

In addition with the explosion of social media, unknown brand can go viral instantly followed by awareness because brands no longer control the buying space or the conversation, it only needs credibility to explode.

Ideas for action: This is the time to take your brand to another level especially with more cost effective tools and technologies, why not take a hard look at your current setup for operations, sales and marketing?

Reallocate your investments and prioritize your marketing, branding or product development strategies.

Many out-of-your-budget marketing avenues have dropped in price dramatically, check your local advertising channels you may be in for a surprise on how cheap it is now to run radio, print and even TV ads.

It’s a good time to build your email marketing campaign, run promotion events or even redo your old website so it’s more social media friendly.

You can even try partnering with someone locally to share the cost or co-brand some offerings together.  Another idea is to create a new brand allowing you to expand into other categories or verticals utilizing the resources you already have.

Brand extension can help secure new revenues and reinforce brand strength without compromising your current brand equities.

This is the time to drive appeal and awareness to build recognition.  Use today’s digital communication platforms to collect meaningful customer data, conduct surveys and optimize your digital presence via social networks.

Reevaluate your brand strategy, be innovative with your products and services, create a culture that reward your people and update your performance metrics.

Myths to consider: We don’t have the time, money or resources for marketing and nobody is buying!

If you don’t have a plan to convert data to actionable insight, a process to collectively review the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, how do you know what you’re doing works?

If you don’t invest in marketing or advertising, how are you going to differentiate the unique meaning of your brand?  Without differentiation you will loose pricing power and competitiveness.

If your brand isn’t even in the run for consideration, how will your customers know that you exist? And people are spending, just selectively in a timely matter.  According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, “amid their (consumers) cautiousness we are seeing some areas where people are willing to increase spending.”

There is a shift in how businesses and consumers are expressing their priorities, but that doesn’t mean you should be reactive, in fact I would argue that being proactive now will benefit your ROI in the long haul.

3. Community Building is Now a Priority

Moving forward, brands will have to focus on fostering their own community to own the communication distribution network.

Building a community is about connecting and sharing experiences, I’ve outlined this previously specifically in social networks, which still applies to other platform as well.

The fact is that the adoption of new communication platform (ie. email, radio) has led to a new wave of user experience in which the context (ie. direct mail, website) and the message (ie. ads, PR) must stay relevant.

If the community is trusted by the members, they will extend the trust through word-of-mouth that could mean more opportunities for brands to increase buying frequency using content or conversation marketing tactics.

Keep in mind that you should get involved in the right channel and passively direct customers to your community.  Effective engagement can also lead to permission-based marketing. According to a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by ExactTarget, “One-half of consumers said unsolicited messages were unacceptable even from companies they did business with regularly. That was up from about one-quarter in 2008.”  When your audience allows you to contact them, you essentially have a direct line to access a targeted customer base.

Ideas for action: For low barrier to entry options, look into building a community using one of these: Facebook fan page, Twitter account, Google group, LinkedIn group, Yahoo groups; or create your own social network (with blog, discussion forums etc.), Ning, KickApps, ThePort, SharePoint, Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, Posterous, Moveable Type, SocialText, SixApart, and Pringo just to name a few.

If you’re tech or internet savvy, you can use a combination of them but I suggest to focus on becoming versed in 1-2 first then expand to others.  Personally, I’m using a combination of a WordPress blog (you’re reading it now) and Twitter (@designdamage).

You can also use video sharing sites like Youtube and Vimeo to help funnel traffic to your community. Another import tip is to leverage RSS feeds to push your message from one-to-many networks.

It’s easy for someone to discover if there’s any participation in your community or not so if you’re going to have a community, you need to be there for your audience.

Dedicate a set amount of time to regularly check the activities in your community, answer questions, drive conversations and connect with members. People have short attention span especially on the internet, so make sure you work on your message (goes to number 1 above) and keep your audience interested.

The goal is to mobilize brand advocates to drive word-of-mouth for greater engagement.

Myths to consider: We’ll just hire an expert and let them do the work like how we outsource web design and SEO.

Although we’re at the age of outsource-anything today and get it done tomorrow, it’s hardly a sustainable long-term strategy especially when it’s about your brand’s core value and mission.

Too often we forget that people are at the center of any holistic effort to improve business performance and accountability.

Outsource to gurus may get things done, but you need to take the time and effort to work with them not to mention they’re hard to find, afford and keep.  I’ve clean up some mess for clients before where the outsourced expert created more problems than what they were hired to solve.

This is why so many brands fail to update their websites regularly or refresh their SEO campaigns.  Take the time to educate yourself some of the trends will benefit you in the long run, or get your team involve and split the workload across multiple heads.

The takeaway: The evolving marketing and media ecosystem is putting pressure on brands to innovate and evolve, or risk becoming extinct.

These trends will be here to stay and is essential for brands to be successful moving forward.

Have you made the transition yet to accommodate these trends?  What are you doing to make the necessary changes to your brand strategy?

I will be reviewing the trends in digital marketing, specifically social business branding next, stay tuned.

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5 Keys to Incorporate Social Media in Your Business

by Eric Tsai

Last week BusinessWeek published its 100 Best Global Brands 2009 and to no surprise, financial brands were largely untrusted which dragged down all brands across the board with them.

Moving forward, brands are rethinking how they can win back the trust focusing on the psychological aspect of marketing and advertising in an attempt to rebuild its relationship with customers.

You can see from the gradual shift in magazine ads and TV commercials using regular everyday people to lead advertising campaigns instead of celebrities with messages such as the “we’re here for you in this economy” (Hyundai guarantee programs, Subway’s $5 foot long, Gieco’s money saving tips), or the “we stand by our product and services” (GM’s may the best car win, Carl’s Jr.’s value comparison with McDonald’s Big Mac) that centers around authenticity.

Serious Trust Issues

What’s interesting is that with more marketers embracing social media, the actual adoption bottleneck are brands themselves.

I’m not speaking about the Fortune 500s but mainly the small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs).

Why is this important?  Because small businesses represent 99% of all employer firms and employ nearly half of all private sector employees, small businesses span all aspects of our economy.

Digital marketing is no longer a fad and has a solid track record of proven success even in this economy but what brands must realize is that building trust takes time and innovation. 

It’s nice to see marketers are quickly to embrace social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, creating their own online community focusing on customer acquisition and retention.

I’m a big believer that social media is in the process of reinventing PR, marketing and advertising by integrating some of these processes into one multi-functional, all encompassing vehicle to engage consumers.

But this is not the answer to earn back the trust, in fact as I’ve mentioned before, these are simply tools and tactics that has evolved due to the shift in consumer behavior and technology innovation.

Companies should re-evaluate their brand strategy to focus on ROI and profits by doing something tangible that align with their core mission while demonstrating ethics and transparency.

Social media is like the hot new gadget that you just bought but haven’t quite figured out what all the buttons can do and the hidden features beneath it.

To some brands, they’re uncomfortable with having conversation with their customers, while others simply refuse to hear the negative comments from the community. 

To marketers, some are starting to figure out how to integrate it with their existing offering, while others are grasping the idea to demonstrate ROI to their clients.

One thing is for certain, social media can help brands in accelerating its reputation (good and bad) and the real question is how to best leverage it to improve an organization as a whole.

Social Media and Business Intelligence

It’s no longer difficult to collection data on customers, data such as conversion rate, click-through rate (CTR) and eyeballs (page views) are nothing new.  The real challenge is to identify useful data to help drive business success.

Analytical data are only as good as developing a strategy and execute against it not to mention taking into account broader factors such as advertising ROI, media weights, distribution, in-store activities, promotions and even closely examining competitors’ brands.

It takes an enormous amount of effort to aggregate meaningful data to build a case for cause and effect correlations between buying and not buying.

Web 2.0 and social media practices is actually a narrow focus in evaluating ROI unless your business operates primarily on the internet.

Social media marketing can certainly build influence and trust, but they should be part of a business intelligence initiative.

Businesses should consider integrating social media tactics with CRM (customer relationship management) tools in a collaborative effort to improve business processes visibility while helping customers in the process of buying.

This kind of business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, processes and social ROI, will invite the new generation of social customers (particularly Gen Y, 18-27) into the conversation (that they will own anyway).

Integrating social media into traditional channels of engagement requires risk and change management, but that’s exactly what innovation is all about – taking calculated risks, implement unconventional approach to create a trusted and transparent business environment to drive exceptional customer experience.

The goal is to streamline business processes to give the customer a voice, bounce ideas within the organization, leverage crowdsourcing to cultivate an authentic community.

Done right, this can ease the transition for organizations (new and old) into the growing social media-centric business environment that will continue to test the boundaries of trust.

And trust is what drives pricing power, profit margin and customer retention.

It is what your community thinks and shares with one another. Growing trust will be more important than growing the customer base.

transitioning

5 Keys to Incorporate Social Media

1. Transition into hybrid business model by integrating social media with existing marketing strategy that aligns to business initiatives both online and offline

Drive print/radio/TV traffic to your social network that can spark conversation with your team, or leverage hyperlocal blogs/media for regional advertising/promotional campaign to drive traffic to retail locations.

2. Identify an internal social media administrator candidate to spearhead social media strategy that can examine the processes for failures at the moments of truth

Preferably someone that truly cares about your brand that gives real feedback, not someone from an agency or an consultant that just get paid by the hour to care.

3. Provide analytical capabilities to capture customer insight and purchase processes with CRM tools to enhance visibility into key business processes performance

Cross reference social media statistics/dialogues/behaviors with CRM telesales or retail sales data to find correlation in campaign effectiveness, tie it back to ROI and resource allocation.

4. Leverage crowdsourcing to drive product and service innovation by providing a platform for ongoing engagement, evaluate customer retention

Combine email campaign, direct mail campaign and events to encourage call-to-action feedback with incentives to reward participants, identify the fans and new sources of expertise within the community for word-of-mouth marketing.

5. Pinpoint fact-based data related to more areas of the business decisions and take action to increase the success of change initiatives, create pilot programs, let the customer take control of the purchasing experience

Say one of your product sells really well during a specific time with a specific demographics, figure out why and where it’s coming from; conduct a survey to abstract relevant data on buying pattern and the source of sales reference to improve the purchase experience.

Organizations looking to transition into the social business model will need to think outside the box, get out of the comfort zone and adjust current models to find the right balance of people, process, and technology to fully realize the benefits of this emerging medium.

Are you transitioning your business into social media? 

Are you experiencing success or having issue?

Bridging the Gap Between Brand Promise and Expectation

by Eric Tsai

One of the first priorities in building your brand is to know who you are and why you matter before you uptake a brand strategy.  I received some feedback on the post “12 Principles of Brand Strategy” and thought it would be important to discussion how to utilize strategy to achieve business goals.  Whether you’re selling a product or a service you need to be able to articulate why you are doing what you set out to do. What’s the meaning behind your offer? Do you have a core belief in what it is that you do?

Too often businesses jump on strategy and tactics but forget the real character behind their brands.  Strategy determines how to position your brand so you can optimize the brand experience you’re trying to emulate.  If you aren’t clear with your brand’s attitude, don’t market, don’t advertise, don’t publicize – don’t communicate to the world because you will likely confuse your audience at the end.

When you start communicating, you put out signals about your brand.  Your audience can’t help but to interpret them in an attempt to aggregate information about you, your personality and ultimately your reputation.  It’s like meeting someone for the first time, your tone of voice, your body language and your choice of words are all part of your character from which all facets of your communication expands.  Marketing simply provides different communication solutions to amplify your signals to position and differentiate your brand.

By defining a realistic and manageable promise (your brand value) you can then proceed to strategize on how you will fulfill them.  If you want your target audience to see your offering as the only answer to their needs, you must meet or exceed their expectations.  That’s what remarkable brands do.  They align their brand value with their business strategy to create a winning brand strategy that’s authentic and meaningful.

Communication Tactics

In generate there are three major areas communication tactics:

1. Marketing:
Viral marketing, multi-level marketing, direct marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and integrated marketing are all forms of marketing in an attempt to influence an audience through direct communication.  Why would you put in the effort to get everyone’s attention and not fulfill the expectations? People come to expect a specific experience that’s promised to them.  As a brand you must learn to deliver across a multitude of marketing channels.

Coke Cola may have different advertising slogans, but around the world the company maintains the same focus on its core value: to ensure that everyone on Earth drank Coca-Cola as their preferred beverage. They kept their promise on the taste of their product but have utilized a variety of marketing tactics to reach their global audience.

Google, who rarely advertises, focus on their brand promise to “provide access to the world’s information in one click.” As you probably guess it, they did exactly that which is why Google didn’t have to spend heavily on advertising in marketing their search engine.  In fact, when you deliver on your promise consistently and accurately to a specific need, you become the only solution in your target audience’s mind.

2. Advertising:
Advertising can be fun and interesting but it’s merely an attempt to influence through repeated communication. Whether you agree or not, we’re all voyeur seeking for adventurous experiences and brands are the perfect purveyors to fulfill that interest. This concept generates a gap between what’s expected and delivered.

I was not surprise when I came across a recent report by Harris Poll indicating that “Though advertisers and consumers both agree that amusing ads are effective and scary and guilt-inducing ads are not, they don’t see eye-to-eye on the efficacy of other types of advertising appeals.

harris-ad09Although the poll may have some considerable bias, overall advertising professionals and the general public are out of sync.  The problem is trying to pinpoint what the consumer say they want versus the “perceived effectiveness” as well as what exactly worked in sales conversions.  This is also why advertising analytics are extremely important because as a communication tactic, it’s fairly expensive with relatively low conversion rates.  And, let’s face it, results is what it’s all about.

Regardless of your advertising approach, you must first define the desirable outcome for the campaign according to your brand value then let your creative juices flow.  Creativity is where it’s at, especially now with the convergence of media ads are everywhere and viewers have relatively short attention span.

Remember, a memorable ad may elevate your brand awareness, but it doesn’t necessary mean it will increase sales, it’s a great tactic that requires abundance of creativity. A great example would be a musical branding effort by Coke “omitting any reference to the brand in a catchy song it created,” and still, consumers were able to connect the song with the brand as it climbed to the top 40 Apple iTunes pop chart.

3 Public Relations:
Public relations or PR is the attempt to influence through third party communication in a positive light. Fundamentally, it’s reputation management while developing relationship with mainstream public as well as other organizations where communications exists.  However, with the emerging trend in social media, PR now must take on an important element of this explosive platform – conversation.

PR helps in building brand loyalty so it is even more important to have meaningful conversation to further your authenticity. This is why brands are now turning to bloggers for PR needs but the key is transparency.  According to research from Text 100, “Bloggers are big on transparency when it comes to marketer involvement. Between 85% and 89% of US bloggers agreed that they should acknowledge when a post has been written in return for some sort of compensation.

bloggerrelations

The proper use of PR will boost your traffic and increase conversion rates.  But keep in mind it can also go the other way.  Look at Amazon’s product reviews and you’ll find that there are highly influential reviewers on there that can help drive the rank of a product up or down.  And just like bloggers they have the power to endorse your brand with their signature on it. Their audience have come to expect their personal brand promise of a “proper review” thus anything less could jeopardize their reputation.  Also a full disclosure of their intentions (compensation or benefits) would not damage their name. That’s the strength of brand authenticity built on a solid relationship.

The take away: As global communication and global business are now almost instantaneous, having the right brand strategy and identity is secondary.  If you don’t define your brand promise, how would you go about managing your audience’s expectations?

How would you feel if you were promise something but it turns out to be something completely different?

When to Adopt Social Media for Your Business?

by Eric Tsai

What happens when hype is no longer hype but a real trend? Can you afford to miss benefiting from social technologies?

These are questions I get about using social media as part of the brand strategy conversations. This is when I introduce the theory of Technology Adoption Lifecycle (aka Rogers’ bell curve) to illustrate product adoption to better understand how new ideas and technologies spread especially in today’s digital culture.

roger's-bell

Fundamentally Innovators seek new ways of doing complex tasks and are willing to take the risk hoping to gain competitive advantage over time.

The Early Adopters want speed and cost savings to drive other innovations that’s mostly perceived advantage.

I see the rest of the adopter groups (early majority, late majority and laggards) as Mass Market. This group relies heavily on the concept of social proof and wants proven process from credible source that demonstrates significant cost savings over the existing way of doing things.

Now let’s apply this concept to social media.

Adopting at the Right Time

The idea of adopting new technology is to improve productivity and fuel growth, not to chase the hype or follow the trend for the sake of doing it.

You need to ask yourself this: How much risk are you willing to take investing (time, resources, money) in social media? Does your organization have the resources to execute the adoption of this new platform?

Regardless of how mature social media is, it has to fit within your brand strategy.

Don’t get me wrong, the timing of adoption is important and it could bring unexpected opportunities, but not if you’re unable to optimize the value from it.

You need to have the right adoption strategy at the precise time that gives you the longest lifetime value at an acceptable level of risk.

You can see some examples of mergers and acquisitions by companies attempting to harness innovation in the adoption lifecycle. Recently eBay sold Skype for $1.9 billion and acknowledged “that it had overpaid for Skype by about $1 billion — the purchase price was $2.6 billion but the Times has reported the total cost reached $3.1 billion after bonus payouts to founders.

Being a happy Skype user myself, I know the value of Skype today but eBay’s timing of the acquisition was simply off not to mention it didn’t fit with their business model.

A better approach would be to find something that aligns with their line of business in auction listings, classifies and ecommerce. EBay does own paypal, which is a great buy because it actually enhances their online auction business and helps to extend their brand to reach more customers. Looking from the hind side, a company like Craigslist (they do own 25% of it) would probably make more sense to go after.

One factor to keep in mind is sustainability of social technologies. This can be seen by the rapid adoption of the earliest social technology: email.

As a technology spreads widely, the economy of scale expands but its value will start to shrink.

Email is supposed to improve our communication and productivity but as we’re at the end of adoption lifecycle spam has exploded, “now accounts for 90.4% of all e-mail,” costing us more time, resource and money to manage email.

When a technology starts to get commoditized, it’s time to innovate.

This is why companies like Google is re-inventing the email landscape with Gmail going heads on against Microsoft’s Exchange email.

For social media one could argue that we’re still in the Early Majority section of the Mass Market and we’ve yet to see the explosion from the Late Majority section.

Regardless, the adoption of social media will continue to grow according to Forrester Research. I like their consumer social technology profiling tool that allows you to check the profile of your customers.

Take away: Adopt social media for your brand when you’re ready, even just to experiment, you still need time and resources. Focus on aligning your brand strategy to help you achieve your business goals. If you need social media strategy, you can start with this.

Are you an Innovator or an Early Adopter?

The 12 Principles of Brand Strategy

by Eric Tsai

In a situation where you’re selling to multiple personalities, it’s best to first connect everyone on a common ground then articulate clearly what’s in it for each of them.

The goal is to stimulate an engaging conversation that allows us to change perception, diagnose expectations and bring clarity to the dialogue.

That’s the essence of developing a brand strategy – the foundation of your communication that builds authentic relationships between you and your audience.

It is by defining your brand strategy that allows you to utilize marketing, advertising, public relations and social media to consistently and accurately reinforce your character.

Without defining the core strategy, all channels of communication can often become a hit and miss expense.

Here’s 12 brand strategy principles I believe to be the key to achieve business success.

1. Define your brand

It starts with your authenticity, the core purpose, vision, mission, position, values and character.  Focus on what you do best and then communicated your inimitable strengths through consistency.

There are many examples of companies acquiring other brands but only to sell them off later because they don’t fit within the brand and its architecture.

Microsoft acquired Razorfish in 2007 when it bought aQuantive, a digital marketing services company, for about US $6 billion then sold it a few years later for $530 million.

Simply put, Razorfish isn’t a good fit with Microsoft’s brand strategy.

2.  Your brand is your business model

Supports and challenge your business model to maximize the potential within your brand. Think of personal brands like Oprah, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart and Richard Branson.

These individuals practically built their business right on top of their personal brand; everything they offer is an extension of their brand promise.

3. Consistency, consistency, consistency

Consistency in your message is the key to differentiate.

Own your position on every reference point for everything that you do. President Obama focuses on one message only during his campaign, CHANGE. BMW has always been known as the “ultimate driving machine.

4. Start from the Inside out

Everyone in your company can tell you what they see, think and feel about your brand.  That’s the story you should bring to the customers as well, drive impact beyond just the walls of marketing.

That’s example how Zappos empowers employees to strengthen consumer perception on its brand.

5. Connect on the emotional level.

A brand is not a name, logo, website, ad campaigns or PR; those are only the tools not the brand.  A brand is a desirable idea manifested in products, services, people, places and experiences.

Starbucks created a third space experience that’s desirable and exclusive so people would want to stay and pay for the overpriced coffee.

Sell people something that satisfies not only their physical needs but their emotional needs and their need to identify themselves to your brand.

6. Empower brand champions

Award those that love your brand to help drive the message, facility activities so they can be part of the process.

If your brand advocate doesn’t tell you what you should or should not be doing, it’s time to evaluate your brand promise.

Go and talk to someone that works at the Apple retail store or an iPhone owner and you’ll see just how passionate they are about Apple.  It’s a lifestyle and a culture.

7. Stay relevant and flexible

A well managed brand is always making adjustments.  Branding is a process, not a race, not an event so expect to constantly tweak your message and refresh your image.

Successful brands don’t cling to the old ways just because they worked in the past; instead, they try to re-invent themselves by being flexible which frees them to be more savvy and creative.

Here is an example: when the economy tanked this year automaker Hyundai came out with an assurance program that lets you return your car if you lose your job with no further financial obligation and no damage to your credit.

The results?

As of end of February, only two buyers have taken advantage of this program but it has boosted their sales by 14% year-over-year in Q1, only one of the two companies increased revenue while companies such as Honda experienced a drop of more than 30%.

Follow by that campaign in July, as gas prices expected to push higher during peak summer travel months, Hyundai came out with another program that guarantees a year’s worth of gas at $1.49 per gallon on most models.

8. Align tactics with strategy

Convey the brand message on the most appropriate media platform with specific campaign objectives.

Because consumers are bombarded by commercial messages everyday, they’re also actively blocking out the great majority of them.

Invest your branding efforts on the right platform that communicates to the right channels.

Television may be expensive but it has a broader reach, wider demographics and can produce instant impact.  On the other hand, social media may seem cheap but it takes time, resources and may not give you the desire outcome.

9. Measure the effectiveness

Focus on the ROI (return on investment) is the key to measure the effectiveness of your strategies.

Often times it is how well your organization can be inspired to execute the strategies. It could also be reflected in brand valuation or how your customers react to your product and price adjustments.

Ultimately it should resonate with sales and that means profitability.  But don’t just focus increasing sales when you could be getting a profit boost by reducing overheads and expenses as well.

Give yourself options to test different marketing tactics, make sure they fit your brand authenticity and aligns with your strategy.

10. Cultivate your community

Community is a powerful and effective platform on which to engage customers and create loyalty towards the brand.

In an active community, members feel a need to connect with each other in the context of the brand’s consumption.

We all want to be an insider of something, it excites us to tell people which community we’re part of and what knowledge we posses.

In many ways it’s our ego that prides us to be part of a sports team or a professional group.

Guess what car would members of the Porsche club consider first when it’s time to purchase their next vehicle?

Brand communities allow companies to collaborate with customers in all phases of value creation via crowdsourcing such as product design, pricing strategy, availability, and even how to sell.

11. Keep your enemies closer

Even if you have the most innovative, highly desirable product, you can expect new competitors with a superior value proposition to enter your market down the road.

The market is always big enough for new players to improve what you deliver better, faster, cheaper. Call it hypercompetition or innovation economics, competition could be good for you believe it or not.

It challenges you brand to elevate the strategy and deliver more value.

Just look at how the Big Three (automobile manufacturers General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) got crushed in the past decade by competitions from Germany and Japanese.

Not only do their competitors make a better product, they’re more efficient doing it and command a higher brand loyalty.

In 2008, Toyota overtook GM while Honda passed Chrysler in US sales.

12. Practice brand strategy thinking

IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown calls design thinking “a process for creating new choices.

Essentially it means to not just settle for the choices currently available but to think outside the box without being limited.

This concept actually applies to your brand strategy creation process that I called brand strategy thinking.

It’s always easier to execute tactics than coming up with a strategy because it implies the possibility of failure.

It’s much faster to emulate what worked for your competitor than to come up with something original and creative.

But the truth is, that’s not you and it violates the first principle of brand strategy.  Brand strategy thinking is about creating the right experience that involve all the stakeholders to foster a better strategy.

Leverage the ecosystem that includes your employees, partners and customers to help you articulate your brand strategy so they sync together.

The take away: Having a brand strategy will bring clarity and meaning to your brand so you can focus on making, creating, and selling things that people actually care about.

If you could do that, your brand would be unique and memorable on its way to become an esteemed brand.

Are there any you disagree with?

Let me know if I’m missing anything.

How the Social Web is Redefining Community and Brand Legitimacy

by Eric Tsai

Recently I gave a presentation on social media in which I mentioned that one of reasons social media is gaining great momentum is that it fosters the creation of community.

Naturally, we all have the desire to be part of a community, to become an insider on something that we’re interested in.

I gave the example of how two fans who loved Coke created a Coke Cola Facebook fan page that became the 2nd most popular page on Facebook with more than 3.5 million fans and yet they don’t work for Coke.

I was then asked “How do I build our community?  Where do we find them? On the internet?” To that I replied “Start by looking around your office, the community should start here, with your employees first. Internet just makes it easy for brand enthusiasts to gather and share their collective values.

That led to a discussion about how internet is redefining the concept of community as we can now gather and form any online community revolutionizing the idea of social capital (connections within and between social networks) and embracing personal brands among audience members.

This is why social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn are so popular because they champion the idea of social capital enabling people to form interactive communities to freely express and connect.

It’s impressive to see that Facebook is approaching United States in terms of its population if Facebook were a country.

facebook_population

(Re)Defining Legitimacy: Opportunities and Challenges

For a long time traditional media has been perceived as the hegemonic manipulation of public opinion and consciousness by media authorities until the explosion of the internet.

We went from limited media sources (newspaper, TV channels, radio) controlling what gets passed through to virtually unlimited sources exchanging diverse and counter-hegemonic viewpoints.

In my opinion, this is one of the contributing factors (besides technology, economy of scales etc.) to the acceleration of social media into the mainstream spotlight.

People are seizing control of their own media experiences determining the spheres of legitimacy themselves amongst the social capital.

Particularly with information consumption, instead of being forced to accept and absorb the limited selection of perspectives offered by media controllers, consumers can now also become producers through participating in social media.

This create opportunities for individuals but problems for companies especially the more traditional organizations.

While social media fosters fresh thinking that challenges authorities, it’s actually a double-edged sword that also fragments communities.

To further compound this trend, people may trust information obtained from their social community much more than they do information from your company.

This is why many brands aren’t yet ready to join the social media party even as the distributed web has matured.

In addition, as the global markets shift into “conversation” mode on the social web, consumers are doing things that traditional marketer didn’t expect – taking ownership of those conversations often completely bypassing the hierarchies to fulfill their need for information about products or services.

In other words, social network instigated problem solving and value creation towards connections between people, allowing open influence within the networks.

The bottom line is that mistakes made by a brand in the social networks could trigger widely publicized compilations of the negative tweets, blog articles, images, and YouTube video with unpredictable reactions from all the open communities.

To understand social media, companies must first understand the power of people is in numbers and the beauty of the network is its pervasiveness.

Every company interested in getting involved in social media should develop its own strategy that can benefit from the open transparentness of the network.

The goal is to be perceived as authentic, interesting and personable.

If you are concerned about your social media presence, it’s time to re-evaluate your brand strategy from your customer’s perspective.

In this economy, consumers are rethinking their choices and are more conscious about making smarter choices, informed choices, and more up-to-date choices.

I’ve developed a model called (MEDIA) as tips that I use to help brands in the social web:

Monitor the Conversation

Get into the habit of monitor conversations proactively and listen to what’s been said about your company, your people, your competitors, and adapt accordingly.

Regularly check what’s already out there on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube so you can be ready to react.

It also helps to track your competition’s conversation since both of you have shared audiences.

The goal is to build tailored brand advocacy programs based on these insights and form a formal process to help drive brand credibility from the inside out.

Engage with Meaning

Follow Warren Buffett’s quote to deliver value: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.

In this case, the time that people take to engage with your brand is what they pay, so engage with the idea to bring value and elevate the conversation (read my last post to learn why social engagement is about conversations).

During your next conversation with your customers offline, think about where the conversation starts and how it ends.

Would you say something different online than what you say offline?

Define Sphere of Legitimacy

Align promises to expectations and draw your own circle of trust and stick your brand in it.  In the context of social media, brands are being perceived as a person thus making mistakes is not where the problem lies, but how you handle the problem when they occur.

There are many examples (search Google) on how some brands got burned doing the wrong thing with their hand caught in the cookie jar.

Simply put, either plea not guilty and be ready to defend yourself or plea guilty and apologize gracefully, know where you stand in the sphere of legitimacy at all times.

Integrate with Brand Strategy

Social media is simply one aspect of your marketing arsenals that’s part of your brand strategy.

In fact, social media should be integrated into your marketing strategies to build influence through communication that consistently and accurately reinforce your brand to your audience.

Try leveraging existing social media resources to help promote your brand such as building a widget, starting a LinkedIn group, or creating a Facebook fan page.

The goal is to integrate offline and online marketing campaign that clearly defines your brand.

Analyze and Apply

Take the above steps and analyze the outcome focusing on the fundamental of the consumers’ online behavior.

Let people know why they should stay and be part of your community.

Focus on the experience of community, the shared emotional connections where members foster the sense and spirit of your community.

The idea is to constantly improve your community and to do so you need quantitative analysis to track the results of your engagement so you can apply what you learn on a larger scale.

3 Keys to Improve Your Brand in Social Marketing

by Eric Tsai

Many businesses continue to operate under the assumption that a website, a basic product offering or great brochure will bring profits and revenue to their bottom line. Those days are over.  Brands are now crossing over into the hybrid marketing era that incorporates some form of social media.

You already know the importance of product, price, placement and promotion, but none of that matters without people. People is what build relationship and creates opportunities.  And that’s exactly what social media has added: the fifth “P” of marketing.

Whether your brand provides information products, consumer goods or services, one thing still remains the same: the most effective marketing is still word-of-mouth (WOM).

WOM generates buzz and it gets passed along over and over and over again in a highly influential way. It’s how friends tell friends about the things that excite them or what business owners tell other business owners on what works for their business.

According to the latest Nielsen Global Consumer Survey: 90% of consumers said they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trusted consumer opinions posted online.
trust_in_advertising

It’s indicative that all forms of advertising retains certain level of pervasiveness to them. In the case of WOM, it contributes to instant social proof and is particularly effective in social media.

Consider social media the new viral marketing tactic and will typically involve the following steps in launching a campaign:

An effective message: How you position your brand and the message you’re trying to get across.  Knowing your audience (the influencers, decision makers) is the key to build a winning message.  It’s all about getting the right message to the right people while being authentically efficient.  Communication is the heart of your customer acquisition and engagement strategies, the key is fostering a high quality relationship that aims to build long-term value: the foundation of a trusted connection.

A targeted channel: Although many brands are still utilizing traditional media outlets, ideally you want to target the most cost-effective channel that’s appropriate for your brand.  Social network advertising channel is rapidly becoming the favor platform for brands because online advertising is cheaper compared to other mediums such as TV and print and is far more targeted.  With that said, face-to-face interaction is still the top channel for people engagement.  Nothing will ever replace the old fashioned hand shake, a lunch or even that discovery phone call.

A viral network: Social media has created a new instantaneous viral network, Facebook has more than 250 million users and Twitter has 20 million growing more than 1000% year over year.  There are other social networks you can tap in such as LinkedIn or even the blogsphere.  The point is your customers are already on those networks connected and connecting with other like-minded individuals, sharing and commenting in groups with detail profiles and pictures.  Consider social network that’s a directory with the domino effect.

Now that you’ve got your killer message and a channel to distribute it, how do you get the viral network to be, well, viral?

The answer is simple: you need to be trusted.

Relationships And Conversations

In order to be trusted, you need to build influence on your audiences’ terms and be truly authentic in sharing and informing.  I’ve discussed being authentic before so I won’t get into the detail again, but recently I’ve found that there are some low level engagement that are both ineffective and deceiving.

In a recent article “Who cares about your news”, Valeria Maltoni clearly illustrated the problem with inadequate engagement and I encourage you to read her post.  In fact, I too received similar email from Gary Vaynerchuk’s publicist on July 9:

Hey, this is xxx from xxx. I’m working with Gary Vaynerchuk to help promote his new book: Crush It: Why Now Is the Time To Cash In on Your Passion.  Because the book deals heavily with social media strategy and branding, which is obviously something this blog talks about as well, we thought it might be something you’d be interested in checking out…

Ironically on the same day I received another email from a personal branding expert which I will not disclose here asking me to boost his rating on Amazon:

…my book, xxx, is being sabotaged on Amazon.com. Basically, 5 people are giving it bad ratings, just to be negative and then at the end of each review where it says “Was this review helpful to you?”, they (and their friends) are selecting “yes,” which pushes up those negative ratings to the top and hurts the brand of the book.

As a favor to me, could you please go to Amazon link here and press “no” under the bad reviews and “yes” under the good reviews…

Honestly, I wasn’t offended but rather disappointed with the meaningless connection attempts by both media “celebrities.” Not only do they have a large following, they’re also role models to many. It’s obvious that both emails wanted me to do something but why would I care about someone that doesn’t care about me?  Have they read my blog or know what their readers are about? Is it all about selling books?

You simply have to apply those questions to your audience to start thinking about the meaning in your engagement.  Often time it will lead to questioning the value of your product and the impact of your offering.

People can be impressed easily but that doesn’t mean they’ll act on it to buy your product or do what you’ve asked.  You’re audience can be your best word-of-mouth marketing campaign but that comes from within the quality of the engagement.

As a marketer myself I understand the “selling” tactics but it only works best if you bring value to the connection and develop a consistent long-term relationship with your audience.

Why waste the time to reach out if you aren’t ready to have a meaningful conversation?

Owning The Social Distribution Network

Social media is about having a presence then connecting and sharing meaningful information with your audience for the long haul.  I’ve covered the pillar strategies in “7 Keys to Creating Social Media Strategy for Your Brand” as a high-level overview, so now let’s look the desired outcome of branding in social media.

social_marketing_network

Conceptually, you are the center of the network universe and social media is the tool that enables you to build a community around a product or service in forging your brand’s marketing distribution channel. Once you’ve earn the trust, it spreads like WOM marketing expanding to all directions reaching your potential prospects.

Whether you have a brilliant product or the perfect message, developing your channel takes time and precision while owning it takes relentless focus on your audience’s ongoing needs.

The downside to the network is that it can work against you destroying your reputation just as fast. This means knowing your brand strategy in social marketing will be extremely important to maintain the sphere of trust.

Here are 3 keys to improve your brand while marketing in social media:

1) Move the “free” line
If you want to be part of the decision making process, you need to be considered as a key opinion leader or resource. Supply your audience with free resources such as reports, statistics and guides that can help elevate your perceived expertise.  With the amount of information on the internet today, your audience can find almost anything but if you can quantify the information that leads to a path of knowledge enrichment, you will certainly earn a few brownie points to be considered as the prime candidate. Google does this very well with their how-to videos extending their brand with social learning.

Your customer will compare before they a purchase anyway so why not give them a reason to start liking you because you’ve willing to share the wealth. If the free information you provide is valuable, you’re already a step ahead of your competition not to mention that you’re turning them into your “A” customers by providing all the necessary training and education.

2) Crowdsource for improvements
While the success of your brand’s often comes down to the effectiveness of your message, it pays to ask questions.  Companies like Starbucks, Best Buy and Pizza Hut are all using customer feedback to improve product innovation and service experience. Starbucks even let’s their customers suggest on new product ideas. Social marketing shouldn’t just be about the outbound messages; it’s an ongoing dialogue to better serve your audience.

The customers that give you feedback are often your most loyal customers so why not reward them by fulfilling a few of their suggestions.  Keep in mind that providing what they want should not be the main source of innovation, rather it’s a good starting point.

3) Embrace brand transparency
People appreciate honesty and integrity so all you have to do is stay consistent and admit when you’re wrong.  If you try to twist the truth, you’ll not last long and people won’t forget manipulations and deceptions.

This can be seen by how Major League Baseball players are forgiven about steroid use if they admit their wrongdoing rather than lie about it. The players that got caught were all given a chance to show their remorse, the ones that lied never get to play the game again because they simply can not be trusted.

In addition, when you show progress or improvement as a brand, your customer will empathize with you for the openness and sincerity. Similar to the examples I gave above on the two media celebrities, if they actually took time to get to know me, I may very well assist them with their requests, but now it’s back to square one again.

How are you improving your brand in social media?  What kind of success did you have with your social marketing efforts?  I’d like to know your thoughts.

How Social Media is Transforming Business

by Eric Tsai

Lately I’ve been researching on how brands are using social media to improve their business.

While doing a bit of thinking on social branding, I recalled a conversation I had with a friend that just launched a web2.0 startup business.

The one advice I gave was to launch it as soon as possible without worrying too much on branding.

The idea is to deploy your initial idea and allow your users to tell you how to evolve the product.

That’s how majority of the new web startups utilize crowdsourcing with an emphasis on the power users then really listen to what they have to say.

The brand development aspect of a startup isn’t as important as the initial user experience.

It got me thinking about business models and how more and more companies are finding it necessary to transform their business model due to the economic crisis.

In addition, the shift in consumer behavior will cause brands to adjust to a fundamentally altered playing field.

In most cases brands will find it hard to transform themselves unless they’ve already got a flexible, dynamic long-term strategy that embraces change.

This means dismantling silo culture within the organization while fostering cross-functional collaboration to spark fresh thinking.

Brands that have this fluid approach are more likely to adapt to change through uncertainty.

Brand Fluidity Creates Advantage

In my previous article “The Emerging Trend of Hybrid Marketing Model,” I pointed out that hypercompetition is no longer allowing businesses to have a sustained competitive advantage, so the idea approach for brands is to have an agile business model.

This happens consistently in the tech industry where every 3-5 years technology evolves and often improves (1.0 to 2.0) leading to a need for adoption.

The key is to stay flexible and scalable because products, services, and business models will evolve over time as knowledge becomes ubiquitous which leads to the path of commoditization altogether.

Just look at the costs of electronics, web hosting, printing, or even internet bandwidth have dropped in price in the past 10 years. In fact, not only are they cheaper, you get more for less even with inflation.

By having an nimble business model, it’s possible to build brand momentum that has relevance in addressing consumer needs.

And relevance is a good predictor of short and long-term success.

However, more focus should be put on proven short-term tactics that aligns with long-term goals.

Short-Termism Is Not Sustainable

The eruption of social media has forced brands to incorporate this new tactical tool as part of the overall brand strategy playbook.

This is indicative of the validity from companies like Intel, IBM, eBay and Wall Street Journal that have moved quickly to publish social media guidelines for their employees.

In a structured brand ecosystem, social media is an unproven short-term scheme because it will continue to evolve as an ongoing, living tool that facilitates real time dynamic conversations.

I’m not denying the success that some brands are having in social media but in general most brands are still trying to figure out the arc of its trajectory in pursing the adequate usage of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even blogs.

Brands that quickly jump on the bandwagon without defining the desire outcome are focusing on short-term solutions that are simply band-aids not cures.

Coupled with a lack of attention to the overall strategy, fundamentals, and conventional approaches to long-term value, it’s simply not a sustainable model.

What’s important is to create an unambiguous structure for brand fluidity while maintaining energy and involvement throughout the organization.

The transformation extends well beyond tactics. Brands must become more engaging by being more social, this means building meaningful relationships that resonates with their audience.

Social Media Accelerates Upstream Reciprocity

Every relationship has a purpose especially on the increasing social web. What social media demands is trust and authenticity.

I see it as doing what you promise and be consistent especially in transactional business. In a recent article “Altruism Repays the Best-Connected Individuals” from Technology Review published by MIT, stated that:

Unselfish behavior spreads through society in a way that most benefits the “hubs” in the network.

The article basically illustrated how being unselfish will benefit you at the end because those who have been helped will likely to go on to help others, then spreads through a group creating the upstream reciprocity phenomenon.

There is actually an entire study done with formulas to support the phenomenon and you can go read the “Upstream reciprocity and the evolution of gratitude” analysis from U.S. National Library of Medicine if you like.

reciprocity_stream
I found the information fascinating because it mimics the structure of a social network.

Apply this concept to social media and you’ll realize that you’re the red dot A and everyone else is dots B and C. Imagine altruism can be any form of your direct or indirect influence in social media.

It could be the content on your blog, tweets you’ve answered, or even products and services you’ve sold (ebooks, videos, webinars, web design, copywriting, consulting, etc).

The takeaway is social media accelerates both upstream and downstream reciprocity especially for reputable individuals.

In business, the act of unselfishness is another form of the Freemium business model. And this immediately hit home with me on how social media is transforming the way companies are doing business.

You can no longer neglect your reputation online because that’s where the conversation about you is taking place.

Social Transformation

Social media has evolved to be the hub for instant and viral reciprocation for any organization’s internal structure and external engagement.

The power of its reach and the openness of its platform commands the kind of transparency that challenges your core value proposition.

It really doesn’t depend on the wisdom of gurus or experts for its dynamism.

That’s the primary reason it will almost certainly withstand the “it’s a fed” challenge.

Social media is transforming businesses and it matters.

From Twitter to Facebook and every web2.0 tool in between, consumers are more and more concerned with the integrity and intent of the brands they interact with, while employees are less afraid to expose how companies work internally.

The challenge for marketers is not to merely appear engaged, but to actually be engaged – to live up to the promise and deliver.

I hope this is helpful in uncovering the implications of social media in business, it’s important to identify the fundamentals and rethink the overall picture.

I know I haven’t analyze any of the specific social media tools in detail, but you can simply conduct a Twitter or LinkedIn search to find every possible tactic and how-to’s out there by the so-called “experts.”

The Emerging Trend of Hybrid Marketing Model

by Eric Tsai

A day after my last post on how traditional media is deteriorating, Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer speaking at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, argued that traditional media will not bounce back, all content consumed will be digital, we can debate if that may be in one, two, five or ten years.

In some respect the context of Ballmer’s statement is indicative of the fact that advertising revenues continue to shift to where the interaction is taking place – online.

There is definitely a shift in consumer behavior as the online experience, through social media, becomes more acceptable, accessible and affordable.

Keep in mind that social media in nature has low barrier to entry with the lack of gatekeeping process.

This is a double edge sword providing that content can be generated rapidly but the quality is dramatically reduced.

The message of social media is totally radical, pervasive, and decentralized while the content of social media focuses on the concept of crowdsourcing defined via Wikipedia as “the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals.”

That’s what’s carrying out the new social media revolution because it’s basically an extension of our sense of voice with instant speed for community-based design.

During Jeff Pulver’s 140 Characters Conference, Chris Weingarten of Rolling Stone made a great point: Crowdsourcing kills art because crowds have terrible taste! If you let people decide then nothing truly adventurous ever gets out.

I couldn’t put it better myself.

People stop asking why information gets delivered and the quality of them.

Typically authorities have a quality assurance process in sequence and in concatenation to produce high quality, relevant content.

What we must do on the receiving side is to continue to question the legitimacy and integrity of the source.

Social media allows us to connect horizontally across each other with relative ease, but just as Jeremiah Owyang recently pointed out that human don’t scale which questions the authenticity of top social media bloggers and news blogs.

This is very true in a sense that because we don’t scale, we’re only able to consume limited amount of information combine with short attention span, it’s a race to absorb as much as possible in a short period of time.

This propelled the publishers to publish rapidly; furthermore the increasing competition has put a sense of urgency pressure to compete for the same audience.

Ultimately the brand that can scale and remains relatively authentic perception-wise will be the ones to profit the most.

Hypercomptition To Hybrid Marketing

Hybrid Marketing

There is no sustained competitive advantage anymore according to Richard D’Aveni, professor of business strategy at the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College. He argues that advantage is continually created, eroded, destroyed and recreated through strategic maneuvering.

I found this particularly interesting because that’s what’s going on with the traditional media landscape.

Traditional media rules and orders can’t be applied perfectly under the new regime of communication (social media) and thus formations of authorities are under attack from these new forms of expression.

Simply put, it’s not a technological argument but the outcome from social and cultural conditions.

Think how content is produced, reproduced, distributed and consumed – more people are adjusting to the “new way of doing things” abandoning the old ones which leads to the permanent shift in behavior.

However, marketer should not disregard traditional media altogether, but combine traditional media with social media to form an integrated strategy or the “hybrid marketing” model.

In the hybrid marketing model, it’s about drawing a business model that works within the ecosystem of your brand.

The key is to have a fluid approach in creating a meaningful dialog with your market. Instead of focusing on what marketing tactics to use strategize on aligning your brand strategy with your business goals and view social media as one of the arsenal to choose from.

I believe this is a more practical approach and allows for integrated efforts for companies with branding 1.0 infrastructure to transition into branding 1.5 strategies because there is no point in applying branding 2.0 strategies if the infrastructure is not ready for it.

The idea is that the marketing strategy will streamline with the resources creating the desire outcomes that are measurable. Brands must consider the costs associate with deployment, control, and management to sustain such strategy.

There is a place for the shrinking traditional media. It will continue to evolve based on how we act and react to technology.

However, it won’t be technology that drives the outcome of the new media, but the cultural value of intellectual property and how it gets produced and consumed.

What’s your marketing strategy?

Perhaps you’re already utilizing hybrid marketing in your business model, share your thoughts here.