Meet the new Boss
Same as the old Boss
What’s true about the most effective media in our small town called Internet has always been true. Word-of-mouth, the oldest media, moves people to buy (Nielsen 2013 media survey).
It’s understandable why otherwise sharp business people succumb to pitches that this new media or that new communications strategy will take them to the promised land. We are hardwired to hope for the best—and to fear the worst. All rhetoric addresses this instinct. The best persuasion is always a combination of an explicit carrot and an implicit stick.
And while business people look for communications that employ these powerful motivators, they forget that they are themselves vulnerable to similar stratagems by people selling communications services. We say we won’t get fooled again,
and then we do.
Remember the well-worn adage that half of your advertising spend is wasted, but you don’t know which half? Anything that ignores the goal of creating word-of-mouth should be examined very closely for payoff. (See developments in figuring ROI for marketing communications.)
As the Nielsen Survey makes clear, hearing recommendations from people we know and trust tops “action-prompting” communications. This media is a full 14 percent more influential than second-ranked consumer opinions posted online. (See “What’s in a Brand?” for how this works). For B2B technology companies, third-ranking TV ads don’t work, mostly because of costs and lack of focused targeting. But if you can find your way on to “branded websites” (ranked third), this is a powerful tool. (See BrandZ rankings.)
Note also where “new” media strategies appear on this survey. These media are rising in acceptance, and social media in particular are proven to improve brand awareness. As well, social can prompt second-ranked comments online. But be careful what you wish for: An online comment can be good, bad or indifferent. If you have experience publishing online and inviting comments, you know that people are more likely to comment when they are dissatisfied with their experience than when they are satisfied. Who among us has not ranted?
Networking through LinkedIn and other business-oriented social communities can also help with word-of-mouth. Nevertheless, done well, old-fashion public relations that prompts objective editorial content—in a dead heat for fourth place—can create buzz while engendering contact and interaction with influencers (both editors and their audiences) in your sector. Although technology has revolutionized the way we communicate, it is a mistake to rely on technology to solve what is actually a separate challenge: communicating effectively about your technology. (See Make it New for a big-picture viewpoint.)
Bottom line: Concentrate on developing a positive, consistent presence in top-of-list items.