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The Marketer
June 29th, 2011

In with the old

By Macky Drese, managing director, MCBX:

With the advent of social media, the consumer has gained the empowerment that’s changing how we engage with them and them with us. The consumer now has a collective voice to even the most minimal murmurings of discontent. I imagine Sony’s current troubles would seem much more manageable without the constant public twittering of discontent. For the common celebrity, even having a simple affair is proving quite troublesome.

Social media has amplified CRM. While poor CRM can cripple you, effective management can bolster your business to new levels. To fully engage an audience you need to understand and reward that audience, and social media is providing a rich, vast torrent of data empowering us as marketers to do this. The “how” remains the problem.

As marketing has evolved, we’ve innovated and found new ways to connect with consumers. Yet, for this problem, we should take a leaf out of Hollywood’s book: remakes! The idea is Scream 4, but the end product is of Titanic proportions. In this vein, marketers are re-writing one of the oldest forms of marketing, the competition.

Think back to the cereal box, it was a guaranteed way to get a partner brand in front of the consumer by placing it directly on a product or an easy way to reward loyal customers. Yet the data took the form of various shards of cardboard, and therefore rarely gathered. It evolved from there to answers on a postcard – still no better. The only difference was that you were allowed to choose your own bit of card as opposed to carving up the cereal box.

Phone-ins were the classic in the 90s, and personally I’ve lost count of the sheer amount of times I saw data willingly discarded, even when e-mail and SMS came along. It was just too much effort to database it and turn it into something effective. Competitions were a form of CRM, but a standalone form, and one that was increasingly being exploited as an easy way to make a cheap buck on the side.

However, social media has been the latest and greatest advance in competitions, for three main reasons:

  • There can be a sustained, efficient interaction between brand and consumer (that’s quick enough to become a valid conversation). The consumer can give immediate, uninhibited and informal feedback to the brand, which can react accordingly.
  • It can be creative and multi-dimensional, using the technology to facilitate and enhance interactions between the community itself. This in turn results in the community creating its own content as well as rewarding participants. It’s the first competition medium to actually pool participants together and have them actively discussing the competition whilst entering. It also serves to make the process more transparent, and therefore more trustworthy.
  • Social media activity can be integrated with other technologies and marketing channels, making the whole competition an immersive experience. The ability to communicate with consumers across more interactive platforms now means that, if used to their full potential, competitions can not only build a community but sustain it, creating an army of brand advocates.

In the era of social media, the humble competition has been elevated to a very powerful marketing medium indeed and the prize is willing consumer data. Consumers now have a voice, and the channels to communicate with you, so why not let them tell you all about themselves?

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