Who’s in control?

Lately I’m trying to squeeze in reading marketing books during my free time for a number of reasons; the ultimate of which is because in two weeks, we have to present a comprehensive marketing plan required in our elective class. With all the readings that I’ve had, I noticed something with regard to promotion – above-the-line advertising always ruled the tactics. I guess most of us have the same mindset, which was proven by our activity in the elective class this morning.

The story
There were four groups in class, and each group was assigned to a role with objectives given a set of limitations. The OrCom kids played entrepreneurs, while the PhilArts groups were the donors, festival organizers, and press people, respectively. Our goal is to make our brand known and to have Php 75,000 to join a festival but we only have Php 10,000 as start-up capital. Donors aim to make themselves known to the world; festival organizers need to promote the festival and raise Php 500,000 to mount the event; and the press people have to make their group known by having a photo exhibit. To achieve our goal, we needed to make sponsorship proposals for each group and haggle during the discussion. For every proposal, we earn points – 100 if sponsor gives us the most desirable package we set, 50 for so-so packages, and 25 for the least favorable packages.

The press people were the most in-demand group – everyone needed to make themselves or their products known to the world. And not surprisingly, they were the most demanding group, with promotional packages priced up to Php 400,000. The media group actually won the game, garnering the most number of points and benefits as against the rest of the class.

Power to the people v.2
Among all the points raised during the discussion afterwards, what struck me the most was when our professor told us that we should not regard the media as the most powerful in that given situation, even though they have control over tri-media. Indeed, I felt sorry, because among all the groups, we as entrepreneurs can leverage on the use of social media, but we failed to highlight such alternative audience reach. Although our packages for the organizers included social media promotions, we did not recognize the other groups as in dire need of the same attention, so we did not give focus on those possible benefits.

I’m sure it was not just us – while I’m sure there are efforts to think social media for marketing tactics, usually, what comes to mind first is tri-media. For years, we purchase products advertised on TV, radio, and print. Add to that your celebrity endorsers, press mileages, and boom, Company A exceeds target sales for this month. This formula still and will work, but consumers now want an avenue for conversations, where they can offer comments and suggestions, where they can easily share the information to their friends, and where they can talk about the experience. The present times call for a genuine consumer power, which will be achieved only if the power of communication is returned to the people. Thanks to social media, that is now possible.

How to think social media for marketing
The idea of going tri-media to position a brand is definitely tempting, given our being used to such practice, so to think social media is surely a challenge. However, I think this basic marketing principle works for this: knowing the target audience. Are the audiences online? What are they doing online – are they Facebooking, lurking in forums, playing RPGs, reading e-mails, still in Friendster, etc? Through what social media touchpoints can we reach them?

A deeper knowledge of our audience and where they are online would make it easier to think social media as part of the tactics in reaching these audiences. Social media is just another medium available for the marketing person, (and I quote Sir Barry) but the principles do not really change. It’s fortunate that by the time we graduate, we have all these media within our reach to do our jobs, but the determinant of our success as communicators is if we developed the right message and sent it through a channel that is relevant to the receiver.


4 thoughts on “Who’s in control?

  1. We’ll always have tools to choose from and these tools change from time to time, but what remains constant are the following:
    1. our need to deliver our message, whoever we are, and whoever we want to talk to
    2. our responsibility to maximize the tools available to us
    3. our task to STRATEGIZE and ACT STRATEGICALLY (because there is a difference 🙂 )

  2. Yes, and unless we have a good understanding of how those principles work outside the social media, it’d be harder to observe them online. I think that underscores the fact that while we live in this age of technology and the new media, it is still important that we have a good grip on the way those principles work in traditional media.

  3. it is true how marketing has taken on a new level and in this case, digital. the basis for concern though as many books would suggest is target marketing. how to reach from a pool of audience the exact ones that you intend to reach. as for the moment, planning and strategizing can be effective tools.

  4. Now here’s the story you shared with me in the bus, Mina. And I believe that’s the word to help us think social media in marketing: touch point. I first encountered the term in our PR class under Sir Ed and it has never left me since then. I am a fan of the power of touch points to engage the public, influence their decisions and direct their behaviours.

    If I remember it right, touch points are described as instances in the entire brand experience where consumers are most vulnerable. In marketing, when have identified our target audience and traced their behaviour online, we could then plot the points at which they could be highly influenced to make decisions of purchasing our product. We only need to open our eyes wide enough to recognize all these possible touch points in the social media and turn them into opportunities for marketing.

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