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Where Does It Hurt?

By: Alisa Marie Beyer
Posted: January 5, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Product concepting was another big strategy problem for executives, and more than 57% declared “knowing product concepts for the next five years” as a top concern. In any economy, long-term plans for new concepts are obviously important. But in today’s economy, envisioning what those concepts might be for a consumer who is reinventing how she shops is a tall order. What economies of scale will be in play in five years? Will she still be trading up and down for the same items?

With 26% of research dollars spent on focus groups, many executives seem to agree. By utilizing complementary business tactics, such as social networking or alternative retail channels, and accessing target consumers’ brains with focus groups and outreach studies, your brand can get a pulse on what consumers want in order to generate concepts that will win her.

It’s Still Who You Know

It has been estimated that more than three million messages are tweeted on Twitter everyday. Imagine if just a third of those messages mentioned your brand. A half? Factor in Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, MySocial 24x7, FriendFeed, Blogger, Tumblr, LinkedIn and any one of the dozens of other rapidly evolving social media outlets and it’s clear to see the potential to reach untapped consumers through social networking is enormous. Of companies that purchased brand development services, 68% of services were Web collateral and design combined. Clearly, social media is here to stay, and smart brands are eager and ready to explore this channel.

Where online marketing might have been an option two years ago, today it’s a necessity, and 52% of executives agree that a powerful online presence is key to building an even more successful brand. In fact, social media plans and online networking are the third biggest strategy question for executives.

Luckily, it is a question that can be answered with relative ease and almost limitless creativity. Tap into (or create) an online community that targets your demographic, create interactive and engaging fan pages, and host customer appreciation campaigns or contests on your company’s home page—and you can reach a vast consumer segment. Not only are consumers becoming accustomed to getting real-time news and information via these channels, it is rapidly becoming their preferred method of communication. If you give your consumer what she wants before she’s had a chance to look elsewhere for it, you will keep your brand fresh in her mind, and on her lips.

How Do I Trust Thee?