Beyond Advertising: Why People Are The New Media

Written by Chipo Mapungwana

Nearly all businesses at some stage in their development must concern themselves with marketing. Whether the effort takes the form of advertising, sales or some other effort to get exposure, all companies are competing for increasingly fragmented share of their customers’ attention. The proliferation of media and advertising has resulted in an intolerable cacophony of marketing static. The response from marketers has been a doubling up of effort in order to capture and preserve a dwindling audience. Unfortunately for the traditional marketer and advertiser, they have only accelerated their effort along the classic point of no return.

A million processes a second

We are exposed to millions of bits of information everyday. And the brain is continuously filtering all of this information to find what is relevant and important. Were it not for this massive processing power, we would not be able to operate effectively. We would go completely nuts from  the information overload. The brain contains over 100 billion neurons that are interwoven and enable us to “think”. Regrettably for advertisers and marketers, one of the tasks of these neurons is filtering out anything that resembles a commercial attempt at obtaining our attention.

This filtering process works very well.

On an average day, we are exposed to more that 5000 marketing messages including TV, Radio, Billboards, Signage, classified ads , print and audio material. Even if we were to lower the figure to say 1000 messages, that is still a lot of advertising.

Where do all these messages go?

99.9% of all advertising is shunted immediately and unconsciously to our mental recycle bins where it is then deleted without further consideration. Advertisers and marketers should therefore realise that they are spending more and more for less and less customer attention and acquisition. Advertising , which is by no means dead, is wounded and fighting for its life. What needs to emerge out of this hospital room if the battle is to be won, is a new way of thinking.

The Ostrich Approach

The Ostrich approach is costing many businesses a lot of money. It is still surprising how many business executives either do not know how digital and social media marketing can benefit their businesses and how many of these still say that they fear that their customers will write bad reviews about their companies on the internet. We, the thing is, customers are already talking. Even more baffling are those businesses that, while tentatively acknowledging that they are aware of digital marketing and social media, are still thrusting this important brand building , marketing channel to their advertising agencies to handle , without any desire to learn how to properly use social media. How can you use an intermediary to talk to your customers? It is like employing someone to talk to your partner and kids while you are sitting in the same room with them. While there are some things that advertising agencies can do, ie assist you in producing your content, customer engagement should be done by the company because…well, who knows the ins and outs of your everyday business but you and your staff?

What gets customers’ attention?

Two way communication that involves personal endorsement, referrals and people willing and extending their credibility to a product or service they have personal experience with gets people’s attention. In a real sense, people are the new media.

Buying decisions are increasingly coming from people’s friends, family and colleagues. And the reason is simply this,

• Your customers know that you advertise so that you can sell your products.

• People are also tired of being lied to by companies that are only concerned about making money.

• Global corporate scandals have negatively affected customers’ perceptions.

• Many opportunistic entrepreneurs have feed off desperate consumers and made tidy bundles of money for themselves in times of shortages and economic hardships.

• In many economies, consumers have been short changed by companies selling counterfeit and low quality products.

• The aggressive advertising that many companies carry out is also so exhausting.

So, customers have lost trust, they are tired and they no longer pay attention.

Incidence of Consideration

Statistics show that when someone suggests a product, a person will consider that suggestion 80% of the time when they need to buy that product. The incident of consideration for a print ad is less that 1% and that is only the number of people who will think about the product, which is quite different from the number who will actually buy the product.

So what do marketers and advertisers do?

• Integrate new media into traditional marketing

• Train your staff to use new media channels

• Add value by engaging and talking to your customers and prospects

• Create communication content that is not perceived as advertising, but that your customers will remember your business for.

• Create experiences that your customers will want to talk about with their friends, family and colleagues and on their social media sites.

• Consider the whole organisation as a marketing department and create systems that support this.


About chipomaps

A brand reputation, marketing and new media trainer and consultant. Constantly curious, constantly learning.
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