Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Leave aside USPs, interact with consumers

Gone are the days when the consumers had no choice than to clinging to daily newspapers, listening to radio stations or watching television. Now the choices are abundant – you will find newspapers and magazines of all sorts ranging from sports to economics; name any field and you will find loads of glossy papers rolled out with flashy pictures and heavy content. Talking about television – as in case of newspapers – the channels cater to all genres of interests. In case of radios, there are hordes of stations, playing per request. While the traditional media have grown by leaps and bounds, the new age media – microblogging and social networking have spread their tentacles in the hearts and minds of consumers.

USP versus contextualisation
Once it ruled the integrated marketing communication (IMC) plans. Each product was uniquely positioned in the market to win the hearts of consumers. The unique selling proposition (USP) of a product depended on the public persona of the targeted consumers.

However, the tables have turned with time. The product marketers are reading and analysing consumer behaviour to design their products accordingly. “If the USP ruled earlier, brands now need to create movements, experiences and engagement with consumer,” says Bindu Sethi, the Chief Strategy Office of JWT India, in Brand Equity, the special edition of The Economic Times. “The world is more interactive and we need to respond.”

Dhiraj Sinha, Regional Planning Director, Asia for Bates says, “In today’s world, brands need to provoke debates and engage people, and this needs a very sharp understanding of what’s changing in the culture and how people are behaving differently.”

Your brand needs to highlight the aspect of interaction with locals and develop new slogans reflecting the different product features. You now need to adapt your brands to target the major source markets.

Go online, interact with consumers
The internet has become a common platform for both the marketers and consumers. It is considered as the most important source of information by consumers. Official product websites are important point of information for consumers. Media and specifically online advertising can be powerful in creating consumer awareness and attracting them to the product websites. Social networking sites as well as specific product-related blogs, open forums, online guides, wikis and consumer communities are fast emerging and provide opportunities to initiate positive word-of-mouth publicity and strengthen brand recognition and loyalty.

Follow the below steps to start interacting and engaging with your consumers online.

  • Assess and review your current website regarding usability, graphic user interface, content, structure and marketing message and implement changes where necessary.
  • Develop website content for special-interest groups.
  • Develop an online communication plan to promote your product website and implement search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and backlinking activities to secure better ranking and promotion of the product website online.
  • Constantly update content to keep the website appealing to users; match any content with the marketing messages.
  • Prepare a list of potential online advertising platforms and invest on them wisely.
  • Identify relevant social media networks and communities, blogs and forums and develop a social media plan.
  • Analyse popular networks and work on enlarging the Facebook community through constant updates as well as fun and participatory elements such as competitions, pictures, videos, feedback loops on posts, etc.
 The constant touch with your consumers will give you clear idea of steering your marketing strategy accordingly, rather than sticking to a stubborn USP for a certain period. Go ahead and indulge in the online world and know your consumers better!


 *The social media logos have been downloaded and adapted.


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