Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The New Marketing Mix: Marketing in today’s Social Age

Scott Kirsner recently wrote in his Innovation Economy column - Increasingly, marketing isn't just one-way street
, about the ways marketing and advertising are changing in the new social era we face today. The idea behind the new trend is that, instead of interrupting people, you get them to discover your product or services – as a conversation.

There is no denying that social media, like Twitter, Facebook, BzzAgent and LinkedIn, have changed the way we discover new products. Now more than ever customers have a voice in what companies do and how they market to them…or do they?

If you are a big brand, with a big budget, you have a lot of options – you can buy media, and continue to interrupt people. You probably need to do that because if you need to reach a lot of consumers, fast, social media is not the answer. It just doesn’t scale as you can scale a media campaign. Then, not all of your customers want to participate in a conversation. Then there is the noise level – big brands need to interrupt as we simply can’t process everything that is coming at us. We know that whoever screams the loudest the longest must have something to say. Expensive you say? You bet.

As any new start-up, aiming to conquer the consumer mainstream for the first time, finds soon enough, getting people to notice you costs a lot of money. Usually over $100 cost per customer acquisition. Well, at least initially.

At a recent MITX mobile event, Brad Rosen shared his not-so-favorite ad campaign outcome he had for his iPhone Drync app during MacWorld. He spent $2,500 in banner ads and discovered that his cost per acquisition is well over $100. He says he much prefers chatting with people directly on Twitter – he not only gets a conversation going, but also paying customers for (almost) no money.

Although I agree with Brand that bootstrapping a start-up is the way to go these days, I have to warn entrepreneurs that the secret to marketing lies in its mix – there is no one way, or one channel you can use to build a business. You need a social media and an ad mix – and you can be creative and not pay through the nose for that. Then for media buys to make sense and have a reasonable ROI, you need to think about two things – frequency and reach. Media buys are not short stunts – they require commitment over time so you can reach enough people enough times so they notice you. If you are seen one, you are not seen at all. You are seen twice, you are not seen at all. If you are seen three or more time, you are now on people’s radar. Then set your expectations – it will take longer that you expect to build your business – it always does.


  1. Good points, Lora. I think the #1 thing I've learned about marketing (during the recent ITDatabase launch in particular) is that leads come from the most unexpected places sometimes. I completely agree that a "mix" (social, ad, traditional PR, partners, events) is almost always the right answer for any new company figuring out how to get discovered. For all the talk about social, we've gotten fewer than 3% of our total inbound leads from social channels. Does this mean we're not doing social media right, that the opportunities aren't as rich there as in other marketing opportunities for us, or that we just got great results in other areas? It's tough to say ... but it seems like the best you can do is to try a number of things, sit back and observe what's working best, modify accordingly and then repeat. Thanks!

  2. Scratch,

    You've got an interesting take on social media as it relates to marketing and entrepreneurship. While some large, national or international brands are using social media tactics somewhat effectively, there exists a much greater opportunity for the start-ups and entrepreneurs to engage their audiences on the more personal, one-to-one level that social media channels afford.

    With the economy currently being in the state it's in, entrepreneurs are more vital to our recovery than they have been in a long time. That's what the "E=R: Entrepreneurs = Recovery" campaign is all about. Check out some more of what we've got going on at: http://www.entrepreneurship.org/entrepreneurship/blog/

    Thom Ruhe - @ThomAtKauffman on Twitter

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