Do you remember those early TV commercials for Facebook (See Parody)? When it was just starting out and social media was a new thing? Of course you don’t. Because they didn’t happen. Facebook grew into a world-changing phenomenon despite a lack of traditional advertising. Their first ever TV spot happened in 2012, and this tale of two marketing approaches speaks volumes to organizations that marvel at Facebook’s enormous success – with almost 1.5 billion subscribers – and who would like to emulate it, even in part.
The magic of Facebook’s growth is partly in the very fact that they did not have to advertise. People were drawn to it because of a collective and instinctive desire to connect, communicate and to see what others were doing. In other words, attraction to, and use of this product required no enticement. It answered an ultimate need, and engagement became effortless.
This is a crucial lesson to learn. Marketers spend a great deal of time and money trying to figure out what customers want, and then building both a stimulus and a response into their customer relationship vehicles. The current focus on omni-channel is a strong case in point. Customers today have not only become more mobile, but they are expecting a seamless, consistent experience that offers no delays, and which responds to their needs even when they switch from desktop to smartphone. This ease of communication echoes to some degree the key factors behind the easy adoption of Facebook: it’s a natural activity of connection.
The business of digital marketing is an art and a science that focuses on developing and communicating a brand, and then getting that brand message across to an audience who is then expected to respond with a desire to purchase the product. The lever of enticement uses degrees of friction, from high – using techniques such as urgency and peer pressure, through to zero friction, which is the case with FaceBook.
The growing sophistication of the global customer base, in the retail and the B2B industrial fields, means that the closer you can get to zero friction, the more genuine and long-lasting the relationship will be.
This is why techniques such as HP’s process to analyze “digital halos” are well primed for this newest era of the new economy. In today’s connected world, the Digital Consumer leaves “digital fingerprints” whenever they interact with the brand. This provides unprecedented insight by looking at the available data about the customer’s Digital Halo to predict future purchase behavior. It allows for a more accurate calculation of the next best action in both service and sales, which can then be presented at the right time, in the right channel and at a price that will successfully influence a purchase decision. Whether in a store or using an app, a customer deserves and expects to feel truly understood, and highly up-to-date. Data-based profiles help do just that.
The second lesson to take from the Facebook model is the fact that they now have started to run TV spots after all. This seems to fly directly in the face of their effortless marketing, but in fact demonstrates that no company is ever too big or too successful to question its approaches and to try new things, especially given the endless stream of competitors and start-ups nipping at their heels.
So Facebook is now trying to spread its message consciously through advertising. Google has reinvented its brand. And thousands of other companies are discovering their true new calling in switching from product focused to service focused. Innovation and change never stop. But the constant is the human desire to answer its needs through convenience. So long as this is demonstrable in your marketing message, you will have direct access to the customer’s attention and loyalty.
For more on this topic, please visit businessvalueexchange.com, sponsored by HP Enterprise Services.
By Steve Prentice