How BMW Malaysia got it all wrong with its latest LinkedIn campaign

I opened my LinkedIn this morning and had this message in my inbox. Now my trials and tribulations with BMW are well known to anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis.

BMW, I’m the last person you want to be contacting!

But in case you are new and interested, you can read an example of why I detest this brand with a passion here.

Let’s go back to that message in my inbox. This is a relatively new channel for brands, especially here in Malaysia where most business owners think a billboard is the height of marketing sophistication.

So why would you use this channel? Well in theory it allows you to get in front of the right kind of people. Ideally, that is people who are interested in your industry and potentially although not in my case obviously, your actual brand and even a particular product.

The idea is to work with LinkedIn to target users who have shown some interest previously in a similar product or even better are perhaps engaged in related communities.

Best of all would be members who are engaged and want to know about the product. I’m none of these but that didn’t stop BMW messaging me.

Look at that message. What does “Athletically muscular and aesthetically uncompromising” juxtaposed with ‘its full-on racing DNA is visible from the get-go” even mean?

In the era of Mad Men this meant something. Today it shows a complete lack of understanding or appreciation of the customer journey.

Hopefully they are being charged per click because in the course of writing this post, I’ve clicked on the call to action many times.

Power. Gentleman. Design. Oh my days…

And once I get to the site, I’m bombarded with even more powerful verbs, adverbs, adjectives and prepositions. Uncompromising power. The Perfect Gentleman. Design. WTF? I guess by now I’m supposed to be frothing at the mouth, desperate for the opportunity to own this beast, which incidentally costs more than RM1,000,000.

But perhaps most galling of all is that when I click on the link, I go to the main BMW site. So I’m being targeted as someone with the potential to spend RM1,000,000 on a car, yet now I’m supposed to mix with the hordes of BMW 1 and 3 series wannabe owners.

There should an exclusive, seamless way for me to engage with the dynamic 8 team waiting for someone like me keen to learn more about the 8 series!

But anyway by now, instead of frothing at the mouth, I’m doing what every potential customer does these days. I’m seeking out the opinions of people that matter to me.

And when it comes to buying a car, my first stop is Top Gear. BMW describes the interior of the 8 as “More irresistible with every detail. The elegant ‘CraftedClarity’ (note the nifty use of capitals and joining together of two words) glass application gives the sporty interior an exquisite appearance…It embellishes the insert of the gear selector…The result is an interplay of sporty flair and exclusive design that combines athleticism and grace like never before.”

Obviously as a jaded consumer who has been let down so many times by brands over promising and under delivering, I need to visit the Top Gear site to get a third party unbiased opinion.

‘CraftedClarity’ or ‘Unreadable’. You decide

Top Gear describes the interior as, “the new TFT- screen instrument cluster is a mess. There’s a big area in the centre that shows navigation diagrams, which can’t be used for anything else if you know where you’re going.” Hardly ‘CraftedClarity’!

Top Gear goes on, “Alongside is a near-unreadable rev-counter. In compensation you get a tach in the HUD when in sports mode. The new climate controls are a bit fiddlier than BMW’s previous efforts too, and the silver buttons are impossible to read when backlit. And while Apple CarPlay-over-Bluetooth is a convenient idea, it was glitchy in the test cars. That’s a nitpicking paragraph, but more nits than you expect.”

It’s a million Ringgit car! You nit pick away lads!

However, Top Gear isn’t done. They end the interior review with, “…The front seats are a good place to be, poly-adjustable and supportive. The back ones aren’t. They’re horribly cramped, for knees and heads. At least the boot is biggish, and folding the useless back seats extends it some more.”

That’s a long way from, “interplay of sporty flair and exclusive design that combines athleticism and grace like never before.”

The Top Gear verdict is seven out of ten and the very underwhelming, “It’s very competent across the board, but not greatly different from the rest of the BMW range.” Hardly a compelling reason to spend RM1,000,000. And that’s before the astronomical insurance, road tax and running costs.

So how can you make sure your brand doesn’t make the same mistakes? Well here’s a few ideas

1) LinkedIn messaging isn’t a tool for creating awareness. Don’t be lazy and treat it as one.
2) Branding is no longer about transactions. It’s about building relationships. Don’t try and sell anything to anyone at the first attempt.
3) Know your target market. How many people in Malaysia are likely to be able to afford or want a BMW 8 series? No more than a handful. There are better ways to reach out to them.
4) Have an integrated brand strategy based on robust brand, market and customer data to make informed tactical decisions. No more of this ‘spray and pray’ approach.
5) Understand the customer journey before making any tactical decisions.
6) If you are selling an exclusive product, make every step of the experience exclusive.
7) Brands can no longer expect consumers to believe what they say and not seek 3rd party confirmation of the claims. The days of flamboyant corporate driven advertising with ‘power words’ are over. Accept it. Be real and human in your content.
8) For an automotive company, the right way to use LinkedIn messages is to create personalized invites for a test drive or invitation to an exclusive and I mean exclusive, event.
9) Don’t use new tools in old ways.
10) Collect and use customer data.

It is inevitable that you will lose customers although preferably not the way I was lost to BMW.

Have a recovery plan for lost customers, especially those lost in an acrimonious way. But once lost, don’t include those customers in your marketing as it may negate your marketing efforts significantly.

But most important of all, branding today is about building relationships, not selling stuff. Use new tools properly to build relationships. The stuff will then sell itself.

How to spot a shit brand consultant

A friend sent me a great link to a Mark Ritson rant in marketingweek yesterday. Mark Ritson is something of a God for many in the marketing business and sells himself really well. And so he should as he’s won more medals than Michael Phelps.

In the rant which you can read here, he recalled a recent evening in London where a friend told him how he had been ripped off by a brand consultant. Ritson doesn’t share how the friend was ripped off but goes on to outline a seven point system for identifying ‘shit’ brand consultants so you can avoid them like the plague.

Mark Ritson - more gongs than just about everyone
Mark Ritson – more gongs than just about everyone

The list goes something like this:

1) If the consultant mentions millennials, run a mile.
2) If the consultant offers advice without qualitative or quantitative research to back up his recommendations, run a mile.
3) The more concepts the brand consultant tries to sell you, the more ‘crapper’ he is.
4) If the brand consultant uses trigger words, he is unworthy. An example of a trigger word is Innovation. According to Ritson innovation ‘is a product orientated word and worthless as a result.’
5) Any brand consultant that mentions Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs should be shown the door – after you’ve thrown something heavy at him.
6) Likewise, if the brand consultant shows you a picture of a cow being branded.
7) And again, if they tell you reputations take decades to build.
8) If the brand consultant has a trademark attached to their special branding methodology or they use an acronym like ‘RESULTZ’ or ‘PERFORM’ then walk out of the room, but before you do write WANK on the nearest whiteboard.
9) If your brand consultant waxes lyrical about Steve Jobs and Apple and insists that what he did is relevant to your business, head for the door.

OK that’s a 9 point list but I’m only the messenger. So what do people think of his rant and list? Judging by the comments section, most of his fans agree with him. However, John Robbins of newzpoint blames ‘shit’ brand managers rather than shit brand consultants, “Although I can’t help but think the main reason there are so many shit brand consultants is because there are so many shit brand managers and the fact that you have to prepare a guide for brand managers because they generally can’t tell the difference between good and bad consultants is recognition of this.”

Robbins continues, “Try talking in realistic terms to a shit client (there are tons of them, easy to find) and most of the time their eyes glaze over because they find common sense rather tedious and prefer to listen to inflated bullshit as it excites them more. The emperors cloths continue to be sold and resold every day and no doubt will for sometime. As the old adage goes – brand managers get the brand consultants they deserve.” Powerful stuff from Mr Robbins.

Another comment from Claire who focused on the reference to the millennial segment, “I am apparently a millennial and I’m married with a kid. My brother and sister in law are technically also millennials and living it up with no mortgage in London. The idea that we are both basically the same segment for targeting is ludicrous.”

So what do I think of it? Well I think Mr Ritson is spot on really. I mean the concept of doing anything and making any recommendations without doing research is borderline criminal in my book. But the research must be focused on identifying value requirements of target markets and not be determined by age or decade of birth.

Who needs logic when you can pay for for inflated bullshit?
Who needs logic when you can pay for inflated bullshit?

I mean, in an era when social media allows you to find like minded souls in groups on Facebook and other platforms, the concept of a ‘segment’ like 18 – 24 year olds or people born in a certain year or decade is rather naive.

Every customer is a segment now and they must be engaged with content that resonates with them. And that doesn’t have to be done through marketing. Indeed, it’s hard to do so, but it can be done when the prospect is researching the product or at the point of sale, after a connection or after a sale. If any segmentation is required, it should be separating prospects from existing customers.

Or as John Robbins said, the problem is often the client. If a client wants a brand consultant to go straight to implementation without doing any research, what is he supposed to do?

Should he walk away? Undoubtedly and many brand consultants probably do but if the economy were tanking and the pipeline was bare, who can blame them for taking the plunge? After all, the client will spend their money somewhere.

And besides, once on board the brand consultant can always try to convince the client to do the proper research.

Slashing prices will not rebuild trust in MAS. 6 top tactics to resuscitate the MAS brand quickly

The recent announcement by the Malaysian government that it will invest RM6 billion of public funds to revive Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is a good idea and one that should be welcome by every Malaysian.

MAS a national icon worth saving
MAS a national icon worth saving

The national carrier is a source of immense pride for Malaysians and so it should be. In the broader perspective, MAS has an exemplary safety record, provides direct and indirect employment for thousands of Malaysians and was profitable for many years.

Furthermore, when managed effectively and innovatively and when the importance of morale was understood, the national airline played a major role in defining the Malaysia Nation Brand as it was the first touch point for many of the more than 10 million passengers carried annually.

Moreover, through MAS, Malaysia got the opportunity to reach out to consumers with a physical product, develop a relationship with them and build a profitable business at the same time. Many of the millions of Europeans who flew the ‘kangaroo route’ from Europe to Australia and New Zealand became brand ambassadors for the carrier.

Much of that goodwill has been eroded but the brand is still intact but there is a lot of work to be done to rebuild global trust in the brand. The recovery plan that will require sweetheart deals to be renegotiated, staff numbers to be reduced and other major restructuring initiatives are just the beginning. Rebuilding internal branding and developing a strong, innovative, customer focused external brand strategy will be just as important.

While the airline restructures, it needs to continue to operate. In June 2014, when MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told shareholders that the MH370 incident had “sadly now added an entirely unexpected dimension, damaging our brand and our business reputation, and accelerating the urgency for radical change”, I was expecting, well radical change.

Externally, it looks like that radical change consists of nothing more than slashing prices!

Slashing prices won't build confidence in the MAS brand
Slashing prices won’t build confidence in the MAS brand

MAS is reported to be offering cut price ticket prices from the UK, Australia and New Zealand to Kuala Lumpur in an attempt to do what regional senior vice president Lee Poh Kait termed as, “inspire and encourage customers to dream, plan and book their next holiday, and help rebuild trust in Malaysia Airlines.”

Mr Lee also told Australian news site news.com.au that, “With unbelievable savings, these deals are a very competitive offering as we build a stronger Malaysia Airlines.”

He also went on to say, “We are committed to regaining the confidence of our customers and sending them on memorable holiday experiences as a trusted five-star carrier.”

In addition to slashing prices, MAS also launched ‘My Ultimate Bucket List’ competition with 12 return flights to Kuala Lumpur and 4 iPads as prizes.

Its not uncommon for bricks and mortar retailers to slash prices in the face of poor sales and it’s a familiar tactic of low cost carriers looking to sell excess seats. The idea is you attract new customers who might not have bought from you and you get a spike in sales that will get you through the lean times. But we’re not selling soap powder, software or biscuits.

An international airline that competes in the same space as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and the increasingly aggressive Middle Eastern carriers and is reeling from two tragic events is not going to build a stronger airline or rebuild trust by slashing prices.

Slashing prices gives the impression the project is cheap, something MAS cannot afford to do. It also smacks of desperation and lowers the value of the product to that of a low cost carrier and may well cause customers to lose not rebuild confidence in the airline.

THe lastest MAS online ads are easily forgotten
THe lastest MAS online ads are easily forgotten

Furthermore, by slashing prices, MAS is throwing away all of the pricing power it has built up over the past few years, power that will take years to win it back.

The regional senior vice president also said “We would like to thank all our travel agency partners and passengers for their relentless support during what has been a difficult period.” I understand that MAS has also doubled the travel agent commission rate to 11% till mid September.

At the same time as this seat sale and travel agent incentive is launched, the MAS frequent flyer programme (FFP) Enrich is sending emails out to 14 year olds offering them the opportunity to earn extra air miles if they book a hotel with the MAS hotel booking partner. Not many 14 year olds book hotels.

Enrich marketing is sending out up to 8 emails a month asking members to play golf at the Mines, get double miles when they fly with Firefly, take advantage of a sale at shoe shop Lewre and various other offers.

Used properly, the MAS FFP database is a potential revenue gold mine
Used properly, the MAS FFP database is a potential revenue gold mine

After flights, the airline is also sending an email to travellers asking them to complete a survey that asks questions such as “At which airport did you board/leave this flight?” and “Class of travel” as well as questions that the answers might be good to know but don’t identify causes of dissatisfaction or provide any real actionable data.

Meanwhile, while MAS offers travel agents double commission on bookings, MAS loyalists who have flown more than 20 times since MH370 went missing in April 2014 haven’t received personalized communications from the airline thanking them for their support or an offer of free air miles, upgrades or other shows of appreciation.

Based on this evidence, it would appear MAS has essentially ignored its existing customers and frequent flyer members and instead gone out and offered special deals to all and sundry in the hope that enough of them will take the bait and fly the airline.

This discounting approach will do little to regain trust or repair the battered brand. Here are 6 tactical initiatives MAS should be doing to rebuild trust before slashing price:

1. Existing customers are more likely to buy than those who haven’t bought before

Right now a focus on gaining new customers or market share is a misguided approach. Yet MAS, like so many firms is attempting to do just that whilst ignoring its existing customers. The MAS FFP Enrich is rumoured to have more than 1,000,000 members. The database of Enrich members is a potential gold mine of revenue that needs to be cleaned and leveraged properly and quickly with a well planned and implemented programme.

 2. All data is important

OK, MAS probably doesn’t need to know the name of every FFP member’s pet but it does need to know enough data to know what products should be sold and to whom and how to increase share of wallet.

Consumers are willing to share more information than ever before and MAS needs to start collecting data and sending the right offers to the right people. Sending invitations to book hotels to 14 year olds is sloppy and shows a lack of professionalism and that will do nothing to rebuild the brand’s reputation.

Good to know but how can the answers help rebuild the MAS brand?
Good to know but how can the answers help rebuild the MAS brand?

 3. Leverage the power of social media

Each customer’s experience is defined by the economic, experiential and emotional value of each ‘moment of truth’ when interacting with the brand so mass advertising campaigns either online or offline and slashing costs are not going to rebuild the MAS brand.

There is a great deal of sympathy out there for MAS and a bright, real, transparent, honest and consumer driven campaign on social media about real people travelling on MAS will inspire more people to develop a relationship with the airline (and relationships are the goal, not selling seats) than any seat sale with a weak call to action.

4. Branding is about experiences and relationships, not one off sales

Few consumers are going to develop a relationship with a brand based on a one off sale. And besides, legacy carriers can’t compete with LCCs and the moment MAS tries to increase prices, those customers won on price will go elsewhere. MAS must start building relationships with its customers and leverage those relationships to increase sales.

The success of those relationships will be determined at every touch point which means the website booking engine, check in staff, customer service representatives, ground and airport staff, cabin crew, in flight entertainment, comfort and service, baggage operators, communications, helplines and more must be all be ‘on brand’ and on top of their game at all times.

5. Stop being lazy and start re building the MAS brand

There is no short cut to rebuilding the MAS brand. It is going to take a lot of effort strategically and tactically. Slashing prices and flooding the Internet with forgettable, price driven ads won’t turn the company around. The MAS website has been a mess for too long. No matter what the cost, funds must be made available to fix the booking machine and fix it quickly.

It’s also time to retrain front line staff as they currently do not have the skillsets required to deliver a premium brand that can compete with the aggressive ME carriers.

6. Think customer not customers

The customer is only interested in one thing, what’s in it for me (WIIFM). Yes many of them care about the airline but they aren’t about to risk their lives or those of their families.

Every single customer flying MAS in these difficult times has to be made to feel special (this should be part of the brand strategy but is particularly important now).

Those customers flying MAS now are the saviours of the brand and must be nurtured to become brand ambassadors and brand advocates who will be talking loudly about the fact that they are flying the airline now.

Make the experience a memorable one and they will talk loudly and for longer and do more to rebuild trust that any corporate driven advertising or PR campaign.

None of this is rocket science but these 6 top tactical tips will lay the foundations for the rebuilding of the Malaysia Airlines reputation quicker and more effectively than slashing prices.

Poor database management can destroy your brand’s credibility

My inbox is overflowing with ‘invitations’ to attend numerous conventions, exhibitions, masterclasses, seminars and so on. I don’t know where these guys get my email address but I must be on every mailing list from Malaysia to Mexico.

I’ve trained my junk mail filter to send most of them to the trash without me having to do it manually but somehow, quite a few still get through. One company is particularly good at getting around my filter and I find myself actually reading the subject line or even some of the copy, especially when I can’t find anything with which to self harm which is what I would prefer to do.

Normally I just swear at the sender, make a note of the company name and promise myself that I will never, ever attend one of their events and then just trash the email. But I thought I’d share this one with you so that if you are in the event or seminar business, you might learn something.

Here is a section of their most recent email

Not quite relevant to brand consultants
Not quite relevant to brand consultants

Of course her earlier email was included so I’m going to share part of it with you

Who is responsible for boilers? Are you serious?
Who is responsible for boilers? Are you serious?

You can draw your own conclusions from this farcical attempt to get the head of boiler operations at a brand consultancy to attend a seminar, the benefits of which are according to the email, “boiler efficiency, improved water strategy and analysis, better understanding of modern boiler burner operations as well as easier identification of its failures, by reducing cost and increasing safety and finally better understanding of legal requirements of Dosh

Tosh more like. If you must use email campaigns to try and drum up business, here are 5 top tips for an email campaign:

1) Give recipients an opt out from your list. This email doesn’t even allow me to unsubscribe, which may well be illegal.
2) Segment your list or risk destroying your brand. You’ve collected information, use it properly. Failure to do so may see you embarrassed on a blog.
3) Make your subject line creative, short and sweet.
4) Less is more. Trust me, the more emails I get, the more determined I am not to attend any of the seminars listed.
5) Track your customer activities. If they don’t respond to any emails, get in contact and find out why.

There you are, despite annoying me I’ve given you some sound and free advice. I shall be sending this post to Anna. Feel free to send it to anyone who keeps sending you irrelevant emails.

Malaysia Airlines won’t return to profitability with bland, boring TV commercials

I don’t like to kick a man (or an airline) when he’s (or it’s) down, and despite a couple of good quarters, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is certainly down.

The good quarters (following six straight quarters of losses) are a result of increased revenues thanks to better load factors and higher RASK (Revenue per available seat kilometer).

Just to recap, to avoid bankruptcy, MAS embarked on a massive restructuring plan towards the end of 2011 that included cutting unprofitable routes and reducing costs with the goal being to return to full year profitability in 2013.

Although the airline has done quite well, that’s unlikely to happen even though it is focusing on Asia and has stopped flying to costly destinations such as Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Cape Town and oddly, Dubai. Giving up Dubai and Dammam suggests the carrier is surrendering to the aggressive carriers from the Middle East.

The most recent business strategy announced two key strategic elements – one to focus on the premium sector and the other to focus on the competitive Asian market. The announcement that the airline would go after the premium sector came at the same time as the partnership deal with AirAsia that has now been scrapped.

I’ve seen nothing to suggest the airline is courting premium customers and although it is good to see the airline understands the importance of segmentation, I doubt their ability to execute such a strategy.

Especially as the airline seems to be going the same old predictable route of using an advertising campaign featuring an irritating tagline (more on that later) to magically increase demand. And I’ve seen nothing else to suggest the airline is doing anything other than the usual advertising, print and PR tactics with a nod to social media.

And what an advertising campaign it is! I think this is the TV commercial.

I’m sorry but this has to be the worst commercial or video I’ve ever seen. It features people of various ages walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, directing traffic (I’m serious), reading newspapers, skateboarding, going to a meeting, graduating, bowling, clubbing and all with one thing in common – they are all carrying at least one suitcase! Yes, even the traffic policeman!! This really is rock bottom.

The print advertisement (which I’ve also seen on a billboard) features two men sitting on a wooden dock. They are both holding suitcases and the younger man has his arm around the older man and is looking into his eyes.

Sitting on the dock of the bay, suitcase in my hand
Sitting on the dock of the bay, suitcase in my hand

Does this image make anyone else uncomfortable? Here’s a close up to help you decide.

Does this make you uneasy?
Does this make you uneasy?

MAS also has a corporate video that starts off with a series of stock scenes featuring babies taking their first steps, dad playing with son, climbers etc and then cuts to old shots of MAS in the early days. Meanwhile the voice over tells us that life is made up of countless journeys. Getit?.

Then we get shots of computer generated imagery of the various planes used by the airline from past to present (didn’t BA do something similar?) before going back to the people shots – nice, smiling, friendly air hostess with kid – cut to boys jumping into lake – then back to nice, smiling people, tender, caring hostess and then, out of the blue we’re told the strangers we meet on our journeys give us courage – cut to skydivers – then back to lovers on beach, cultural harmony, pregnant couple and so on. I stopped at this point, unable to continue. Have a look instead.

One of the videos (I can’t remember which one and I have no intention of watching them again) features the Malaysia Airlines app that I really like but isn’t integrated with the website (or if it is I can’t figure out how to find my bookings made online on the app).

So if MAS is serious about increasing market share, what should the company do? Here are 5 things they need to start doing today.

1) Forget about the big idea. Focus instead on consistent, onging, personalised engagement with each of your very diverse audiences.
2) You probably have one of the most comprehensive databases in South East Asia. Start to use it properly.
3) Focus. These ‘one-size-fits-all’ advertising campaigns are an expensive exercise in naïve futility. Put an end to them now.
4) Don’t do social, be social.
5) Integrate all your solutions to make it easier for consumers to use them. Otherwise they defeat the object of developing them in the first place!

I’ve been flying MAS for over 20 years and I think it is a great product but it needs work. A lot of work. This traditional approach to brand building is not going to help steer the airline to full year profitability. They’d be better off throwing the money down a black hole.

Stop advertising and start branding part II

A fascinating insight into the social media and mobile shopping habits of consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore has just been released by SDL in the UK.

The survey size is a little small – 4,000 people in four countries – but the results unearth new data on how social media and mobile are influencing how consumers interact and build relations with brands.

Singapore participant breakdown
Singapore participant breakdown

Findings include:

33% of respondents from all four countries have acted on promotions seen on social media.

58% of respondents have shared positive experiences online and have sought advice from friends and family when talking about brands on social media.

U.K. respondents are more likely than respondents from the other four countries to complain about service on social.

When respondents express feedback, Facebook is the most popular platform to do this.

Showrooming (visiting a physical location to evaluate products and services even when you know you will buy online at another time) is increasingly prevalent as 77% of participants showroom.

Experiential branding key to branding success
Experiential branding key to branding success

62% of the participants use a mobile device when in stores to compare product prices.

69% of respondents from all four countries expect a brand’s online store, mobile app, and physical store to offer the same pricing, discounts and sales.

Pricing consistency is expected in all countries
Pricing consistency is expected in all countries

What can brands learn from this thought provoking survey?

They need to understand their relationship with consumers and what resonates with those consumers.

Brands that ensure parity in pricing and products across multiple channels will have to place greater emphasis on the customer experience and experiential branding if they want to win and retain business. Those that compete on price alone will soon be out of business.

Department stores and other retail outlets that represent multiple brands will have to work harder to engage consumers and ensure a positive brand experience otherwise they face the prospect of losing customers, possibly forever.

Mobiles are changing the way consumers research and learn about brands.

Brands that take the time to build relationships with core fans or brand evangelists will see their brands promoted to thousands of fans for minimal financial investment.

Those brands with digital brand strategies that go beyond tactical campaigns online are increasing sales through loyalty and advocacy.

Brands that try to control content and manage corporate driven messages and ignore consumers are unlikely to last very long in the consumer economy of today.

Telling the brand story online should be done across Facebook and other popular platforms with the ongoing development of corporate and consumer content.

This infographic shows the right way to build a brand online

John Cullen runs an Internet marketing company out of Ohio in the US. He dropped by my blog and out of courtesy I had a look at his. He also liked the ‘about me’ page on my blog. I’m not sure if I should be happy with that because I hope he liked some of branding related stuff too!

Anyway on his blog I came across this excellent infographic that explains the online marketing funnel.

Online marketing funnel
Online marketing funnel

This fascinating infographic is useful because it shows the importance of digital marketing when building a brand, not through advertising but through the use of content and yet it also shows how important traditional tools such as the telephone are in the brand building process.

It also shows how important it is to use the right tools for the right sector. For instance, Linkedin generates more leads for B2B companies than Facebook, twitter or blogs yet only 47% of B2B marketers say they are active on Linkedin compared with 90% who are active on Facebook.

All you need to know to start building your brand online. Check out response tap for more on this topic.

5 facts about developing a brand strategy in the social economy

1) Research is more important than ever.
Research has always been important but it was cumbersome and time consuming. Not any more. Today, the right research can be developed and implemented and results analysed quickly and efficiently.

Brand building - don't run before you can walk
Brand building – don’t run before you can walk

It’s easy to find those people who are likely to like your product. It’s even easier to talk to them. But too many companies don’t bother, preferring to chase the holy grail of more new customers through corporate driven messages.

And don’t forget your existing customers because they are your best source of information. Talk to them, find out what they are looking for, what they value and match attributes to their requirements for value.

2) Mass market branding with a focus on the 4 Ps is no longer effective.
Brands today are built on delivering economic, experiential and emotional value. Not on creating some cool position and communicating it across as many channels as possible for as long as possible.

Deliver that value with stories that resonate with target markets and existing customers. Build relationships with customers by allowing access to the brand, personalizing all elements of all interactions, through relevance, experiences and emotions.

Ignore the social element of the social economy by trying to speak to everyone with one corporate driven message and you will fail.

3) Focus on developing more profitable relationships, not a more profitable product. Brands evolve when companies start buying for customers instead of selling to them. This is especially true in times of economic hardship.

4) Branding is an organisational issue not a departmental responsibility.
And the organisation is the responsibility of the CEO. The CEO needs to be involved in the development of the corporate brand.

Your brand is too important to be left to a marketing department that still believes in the corporate driven message over the engagement of the consumer.

And once you’ve built a brand, don’t rest on your laurels, continue to innovate or you will be left behind.

5) Retention is key to brand building.
Companies no longer sell products, customers buy them. And once customers have bought a product, companies must do everything possible to hang onto those customers. After all, you’ve investment a lot of money to gain a customer, why let them go?

Especially as the more time a customer spends with you, the more money they will spend with you.

When is the best time to use Twitter?

Whether we like it or not – and despite the fact that there are 500 million Twitter users of whom 200 million are active users, far too many companies refuse to take Twitter seriously. Preferring instead to continue to use traditional channels – Twitter is an increasingly important tool for brand building.

It allows firms to distribute real time content to people that are interested in that content. It provides access to celebrities and other people of (significant) influence.

It also allows brands to lay the foundations for and build stronger business relationships, address negative issues in a transparent manner and thereby improve customer service and help retain customers that could have been lost.

But one of the drawbacks of Twitter is not knowing when and when not to use it. Not any more. Thanks to this excellent infographic from linchpinseo you can time your tweets to perfection!

Perfect tweet times
Perfect tweet times