In previous blogs I have spoken about some of the trends changing not just the world of business and marketing but also the very way that we live our lives. For instance I spoke about the “Follow me generation”, as well as the power of “word of mouse and not word of mouth”, there is also another phenomenon which I am going to talk about today and that is of the “digital dialogue”.
The traditional monologue
In yester year, in the past image making was very much in the hands of large companies and advertising agencies who in essence advertised on TV and said how great they were and then people would buy. This is of course a very simplistic summary but it contains some truth. Consumers however did have to like the product. To paraphrase one millionaire (and potential billionaire) entrepreneur I listened to in a business seminar last year “In the past companies could go on TV, say ‘hey, look we’re great’, people would watch and then it was highly likely they would go and buy”. There were of course methods used in traditional advertising which in itself was very much a science and an art. These included things such as the appropriate use of images, psychology, catchy slogans, celebrity endorsements and so on. Coca Cola for instance is one company which not only had a quality product which millions through out the world enjoyed but a huge marketing structure. Though Coke is arguably the most famous brand in the world, even Coke spends millions of dollars a year on advertising. One of the rules of business, and of life, is that inactivity, stagnation leads to decline. Even the most successful need to be active.
The digital revolution.
Then however the digital revolution took place. We saw last year the explosive power and impact of modern online media in the form of the Arab spring, in which facebook played a key part.
Social media has also had a dramatic effect, though not as profound, in a mini-revolution in the way consumers and businesses interact. It has democratized shopping and empowered the consumer, and reduced the power of advertisers and big businesses. One interesting article from London’s thisislondon.co.uk website talks about this and mentions how initially major companies did not want to be involved in social media interaction. Though the article itself does not state that it may be partly that major companies spurned social media seeing it as a little beneath them. However as the writer states “But the dangers of failing to act are arguably more profound. To ignore what consumers are saying, to fail to participate in a dialogue, means a brand runs the risk of reputational damage since the online debate is happening anyway. As Toby Horry, joint managing director of specialist agency Dare, says: “Your brand is already in social media and therefore you’re better off to be taking part than not.” link
In some ways it could be said that big businesses could no longer afford to in effect be ostriches and bury their heads in the sand, which is maybe not what they thought they were doing but what was taking place in reality.
As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them” which is what these companies have started to do and started pages whereby they can interact with their customers. However the digital dialogue also necessitates companies maturing and instead of “selling” to their customers and saying how great they are, actually listening to them and discussing with them in an intelligent way.
In this day and age with online forums where customers can rate products & services, compare, the consumer is becoming an ever increasingly powerful entity and businesses must be on the top of their game more and more. The digital revolution is producing many revolutions and mini-revolutions across the globe.
- Jahan Choudhry