What's the first thing you do when you see an interesting ad?
You call a friend to see if they will validate the product or service. We have always looked to our friends to get their opinions because we know their frame of reference and we trust them. With the advent of social media this inquiry is more easily accomplished than ever.
Why then would anyone consider advertising? Awareness is what comes to my mind. Advertising is a suggestion to get or keep the buying process moving. I seriously doubt in these times it results in a stand alone sale, unless of course the price point is so low that there is very little risk. Or possibly if the purchase is one where, shall we say, getting a friend's opinion may be a bit awkward!
Our personal experiences and those of our friends are shaping new business models that are sure to include the most valuable advertising there is: the wisdom of friends. If you are a business owner, you need real friends who can validate the value you bring to the marketplace. I'm talking real friends here, no t the fake friends that you may be frantically collecting on Twitter.
A few years ago I spoke to Caterpillar dealers at their Superbowl celebration in Orlando, an experience that I enjoyed immensely. It is always a pleasure to be with a group of professionals who are genuinely interested in learning. There were dealers from across the country who converged to share best practices and learn how to connect with new markets. One of those markets being the green industry that I was there to represent with my twenty years of experience.
As I said, it was several years ago, long before social media had really found its legs. The news I shared with them was the green industry is a market in excess of 50 billion dollars, yet a very fragmented one. This is typical of most industries that are dominated by smaller, entrepreneurial businesses.
If I were speaking to them today, I would strongly encourage strategic marketing initiatives for engaging with those entrepreneurs through the social media networks. I would suggest a combination of advertising for awareness with a healthy component of engagement to get to know one business owner at at time.
That's how we share information. We all talk. We trade notes. And we value each others opinions because we know our friends understand how to get things done in the trenches just as we do.
I don't think advertising is dead by any means.
It just needs to be, hmm..friendlier.
Photo Credit: RoadsidePictures