Nobody likes the feeling of being trapped. It is hard enough to run a restaurant and when you add in the burden of marketing that restaurant, things can become overwhelming. Time is one luxury that owners and operators lack. But what about money? Spending money on marketing should be looked at as an investment and like any investment a plan and strategy should come first. But don’t get trapped into thinking you need to stick with any one medium in particular, especially if you cannot prove that it is worth the investment.
In my past life I worked at traditional advertising agencies, which afforded me a front row seat to seeing both the good and the bad that agencies brought to the table. On the positive side I had the pleasure to work with many bright and talented people (and some not so bright people to be perfectly honest). In the good old days what made advertising professionals effective was their specialization. You had creative teams filled with out of the box thinkers and wonderful writers and designers. In the media department you had smart analytical types who used research and numbers to back up their recommendations. On the account service side you had strategists and client managers. On the negative side all agency employees fit into a role in the agency business model. In reality the role that most agency employees questioned was the business model set by their superiors to make the agency money…often at the expense of their client’s best interest. Most of this talent has moved on, fed up with the old way of thinking. Agencies no longer house all of the top talent, out-of-the-box thinkers or trend setters. Those types of problem solvers can now be found on the web, moving forward instead of defending the old way of doing things.
Everyone bought into their roles except for the target customer a.k.a. the end user, no one told them they needed to play along as well.
You see the positions at agencies have stayed the same for the most part, however the environment around them has drastically changed. Traditional advertising agencies historically made their money two ways, by marking-up media and through billable production hours. What would often happen is account service would put a plan together that would drive agency revenue and be profitable for the account. Everyone was just doing their part to make the agency profitable. Creative would come up with executions that required production shoots and edits, while media would find strategic media placements that were too good to pass up. Of course they came at a premium and you guessed it, all billable.
How would they sell this to the client?
Agencies had all kinds of tricks up their sleeves, they are after all creative individuals. One of the easier tricks was to manipulate data, they would argue that the research they did on the audience and target showed x, y and z. They would then say, “as you can see the plan we put in place is perfect based on our research”. What the client never knew was the research was often used on the backend to defend the creative, the strategy and the media plan. However, today we now have real time tracking, analytics and actual conversations with the end user. Just a short while ago the industry made blanket statements without ever receiving feedback from the customer. Today that is no longer an issue, we now have real time recording, tracking and analytics courtesy of the Social Web. With the ability to poll consumers on Facebook, ask for feedback on Twitter and track likes and shares on YouTube results literally pour in minutes later. We are far more equipped to make marketing decisions based on our audience feedback then ever before.
So what does this have to do with paid media?
Six Things to Consider When Presented a Paid Media Plan/Proposal:
1. Be weary of statistics. 2. Be cautious of what reps are selling 3. Look for trackable media 4. Get feedback from your actual customers 5. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is too good to be true 6. Question everyone and everything
One of the main concerns that I have with paid media today is that it is a one-way communication. This is referred to as Push Advertising. Traditional advertising was all about pushing a message down your throat. The old idea of branding was about repetition and over exposure by lots and lots of paid media. Today there is a better way to communicate with your audience, and with the use of the web and social media you can have a two-way conversation. This is called Brand Engagement.
Today we have entered the world of Post-Advertising, I recently read a great blog post by Mike Cannon on the site Post Advertising, that demonstrates why for brands it is important to re-think the way they are communicating and selling to consumers. The post titled, “What Brands Can Learn From Louis C.K.’s Marketing Success”.
An exert from the post:
Post-advertising is about utilizing the technologies that are given to us to buck the industry norms and connect fans with the content they crave. Actors can tweet directly to their fans. Brands can get feedback in real-time. There are so many possibilities, many of which are very simple. All C.K. did to sell his comedy special was set up a PayPal account.
One of the things that I love best about marketing by way of new media is that you have the opportunity to adjust and evolve. This is the real beauty of the social web and digital media. Brands are living, breathing things and like all living things brands need to continue to grow. Sometimes that means changing how they communicate.
With the success of bloggers, social networks and mobile devices it has never been easier for individual’s to share their personal thoughts and interests. Everyone has their own voice to be heard and their own way to broadcast. We are now equipped to become our own marketing department for brands and products that we love. In a recent post on Forbes.com, Britt Peterson wrote “It’s Time Brands Started Acting More Like People” and spoke about Sociable Butterflies and the positive effects that they can have on a brand.
When brands create their own content, they provide the PR message for Sociable Butterflies, Brand Ambassadors and Loyal Fans to share to their audience as Brand Influencers. This is what the new marketing machine looks like. Who better to talk on your behalf than your own loyal customer? This does not require paid media, questionable statistics or a monthly retained advertising agency. This is about giving a brand a voice and letting that voice share your story.
Are you still feeling trapped by paid media? Sure paid media has a place in today’s post advertising world. I just hope that you see there are many alternatives, especially if you don’t have the money to out spend your competition. Take the time to get to know your audience, don’t rely on statistics to do it for you. We have evolved from that. The good folks at Social Media Examiner have shared, 4 Ways to Discover More About Your Audience With Social Media. Take some time to learn about your customer and you will learn a thing or two about why they keep coming back for more. How’s that for some secret sauce?
What is your restaurant learning from their audience? Have you had success staying away from paid media? What do you think the role of paid media should be moving forward?