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The Digital Marketing Age, a brand new game?

With the rapid expansion of the Internet as a mode of communication and the ever-growing array of interest-based social networks, traditional marketing seems to have been hijacked by “digital”. This post has a look at the difference between the established marketing methods and digital marketing techniques to identify if there are any significant changes. Is a marketing mix important for brand image or should we listen to the online marketing gurus instead?

 

Take a moment to think about marketing. Without the interruption of your experiences with automated phone calls. No imagining flyers shoved in your face or conjuring an image of thousands of e-mails in your inbox. Think of it in abstract, a part of the process of selling and a part of everyday life. At the end of the day, nothing happens in our society without someone selling something.

Marketing yourself as an employee

Consider this. You have paid for your phone which you use to check your social media accounts. Did you know the social media platforms sell advertising, allowing a free service to users?  Businesses need employees that are able to work to help produce goods or offer services. Employees have to sell and market themselves in a job interview to gain the position within the business. With these examples and at bit of context and perhaps many others springing to your mind , marketing can be seen to be ever present in our day-to-day society. Does it stand out that every process is somehow circular? Whatever activity there is it always comes back to the buyer for further action or reaction? It should.

The seller used to decide their brand message

We were sitting in a seminar focused on writing good content the other day. The trainers in the seminar mentioned that where the process of publicising a company was linear before social media. Now it has become such a big part of our lives that it has now formed a circle of sorts.  Like bowling, the marketing mix before the Internet would have been a process where the seller decided what their message was then bombarded the buyers with it. This method allows no room for customers to express how they felt about these messages. With the Internet and online marketing strategies, it has shifted the process towards giving consumers a voice. The playing field now changes into what could be a game of pinball. Once the message, the metaphorical pinball, is out to the public domain, it will ricochet around consumers and reviewers, competition and other affected parties, open to their opinions and commentary.

Digital marketing – a communication circle

This shift can be positive. The users feel empowered by their newfound ability to influence a brand’s standing. It also allows digital marketing reach to be increased by excited advocates. Their opinions can have more impact than traditional broadcast methods. The negative is that the openness of the brand to public scrutiny can backfire. With bad experiences from users, unhappy employees or aggressive competitors can all seen and associated to the brand. It’s much like the pinball game. Marketing in the new millennium is more chaotic and with more elements than before. The problem now is managing a cohesive image and achieving the same standard with all users.

Pinball game as metaphor for the marketing mix in the digital age.

Understanding the customer experience

In the world of Atlas Copco, we use an NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey to map out the experiences that our customers have of our products. This helps to identify promoters, the users with positive experiences. With the detractors being users with notably negative experiences. From here we are able to remedy the negative experiences with prompt action. This process is important to allow the organisation to understand the expectations of the market it is in. This includes best practices and how to be proactive in the relationship with customers. This means that one of the elements affecting the brand in a connected world is being managed.

Brand image management.

For other brand image aspects of our company, we refer to a Brand Manual and advise employees on appropriate behaviour online. We also track when the brand is mentioned in digital channels alongside brand building activities. For most instances, there are identified standard operating procedures for handling commentary, while new occurrences are usually handled with advice from a designated Corporate Communications Manager.

The conclusion to be drawn, from here, is that the connectivity and conversations via the Internet are here to stay and brands must adapt to the new channel, especially as this allows for more freedom and an average reduction in some of the costs associated with marketing. However, it should not be mistaken for a complete shift in the field of marketing and a comprehensive strategy is still needed to ensure appropriate coverage.

 

The marketing mix on it’s head?

Has marketing or the marketing mix been turned on its head? Not quite. It remains the process of selling, with the addition of some new means to enable the conversation between the seller and the buyer. With the rather slow adoption of new digital tools across business-to-business companies, a new question arises: will older brands be able to give up the control over their identity that they have grown accustomed to or will they attempt to use digital channels as new methods of broadcasting?

 

References:

Balmer, J.M.T. & Yen, D. A. (2017) The Internet of total corporate communications, quaternary corporate communications and the corporate marketing Internet revolution, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 33, no. 1-2, pp.131-144

Brindle, F. (2017) The impact of digital marketing disruption on the localization industry, MultiLingual, March 2017, p.44-47

Clark, N. (2016) B2B COMMUNICATIONS IS EVOLVING: PR AND MARKETING PROFESSIONALS NEED TO KEEP PACE, Marketing Week, 16 June 2016, p.40-41

Deighton, J. & Glazer, R. (1997), Editorial, Journal of Direct Marketing Summer, vol. 11, pp.3

Deighton, J. & Kornfeld, L. (2009) Interactivity’s Unanticipated Consequences for Marketers and Marketing, Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 23, pp.4-10

Henning-Thurau, T. & Hofacker, C. F. & Bloching, B. (2013) Marketing the Pinball Way: Understanding How Social Media Change theGeneration of Value for Consumers and Companies, Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 27, pp.237-241

Jarvinen, J & Tollinen, A. & Karjaluo, H. & Jayawardhena C. (2012) DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING USAGE IN B2B INDUSTRIAL SECTION, Marketing Management Journal, vol. 22, no. 2, pp.102-117

Kannan, P.K. & Li, H. (2017) Digital marketing: A framework, review and research agenda, International Journal of Research in Marketing, vol. 34, pp.22-45

Phillips, E. (2015). Retailers scale up online sales distribution networks. The Wall Street Journal November 17, 2015. Available online: http://www.wsj.com/articles/ retailers-scale-up-online-sales-distribution-networks-1447792869 [Accessed 30 October 2017]

 

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