A report from Forrester Research, based on survey responses from 58,000 respondents, indicates what could be perceived as a severe advertising trust gap. The data indicated that 70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends but only 10% trust advertising messages. At first glance, this may seem like a significant deficiency for brand advertisers and a substantial knock of the process of advertising itself. While there is relevance in this snippet of data, it does not spell doom for advertising. I expect advertising to be around in some form 100 years from today.
Certainly, this is nothing new. There’s often been an inclination, which has either manifested itself in quantitative or qualitative data, to trust what friends are doing with their brand choices more so than basing product or service purchase decisions just randomly based on information out there. Information out there is a wide categorization and can be anything from a company website, to offline marketing material to company review pages on Yelp. Those items, along with many other items, have usefulness, but word of mouth based on a one to one personal relationship with a history of significant in person time spent together is going to be valued significantly higher in the decision making process. This is not a new concept to the marketing world, as I regard this as a fundamental truth that existed prior to the Internet and social media eras.
Another fundamental truth is that the gap, while real, is probably not as big as the data may indicate. One of the common factors in survey responses is social desirability bias, the idea that respondents respond in a way that will make them appear socially appealing. It is socially appealing to deride advertising. With that said, positive word of mouth from one’s existing social network is still going to have a stronger net effect in inducing brand beliefs that will deliver greater market share.
So what does this mean for brand managers?
Ultimately, your world hasn’t changed as a result of the newest research. Some of the key ideas that the Forrester report touches upon are reflected in key themes that routinely come up on this blog. Two of those key themes are the importance of local level marketing efforts and the proliferation of online marketing channels that has created the new multi-channel environment. Both of these themes are part of the process of building more meaningful relationships that can enhance word of mouth marketing, which has adapted to the new digital ecosystem.
The CMO Council has noted that one of the key initiatives amongst brand marketers during 2013 is going to be greater localization of content. Local customization is a key element of distributed marketing, and why the distributed marketing model is in place in a number of industries. The use of the distributed marketing model alone does not provide a competitive advantage, but Gleanster noted top performers are 7 times more likely to utilize distributed marketing management software within their organization.
The multi-channel marketing approach is a way to attempt to get in front of as much as your target market within reason. But when members of that potential target market are doing research, it is best to have a multifaceted digital presence. Seeing content on a website and Facebook Fan Page can be a good start for driving basic brand awareness and can serve as validation of brand beliefs developed from other sources. It is good to use video to deepen relationships and provide for easy to consume content. Paying attention to Google and Yelp reviews is often essential. Reputation management is its own burgeoning sub discipline of marketing communications. The Internet is often the vehicle for word of mouth marketing and it is frequently the go to source for company research when someone lacks familiarity regarding a brand.
Now more than ever, the distributed marketing model and the anatomy of a distributed marketing platform are relevant in delivering marketing outcomes that are closely aligned with top performing brands.
Want to master multi-channel marketing? You won’t want to miss this webinar on March 28 at 1 PM. tinyurl.com/cpdldro