Friday, May 15, 2009

How New Media Can Set Marketing Free

Digital communication channels ie New Media are going to be very significant in the future as internet penetration rises in India. The importance of this new medium is equal to that of radio or television in the previous century. Radio and television made reaching lots of people easy, convenient and cheap. Aligned with newer mass-manufacturing techniques and transportation, this led to the creation of mass consumer brands like soaps, soft-drinks, cigarettes. New media does just the opposite – it allows you to reach a small group of people economically. Coupled with increased digitization and reduced costs of transportation and communication, these media will drive greater customization and exclusivity in products and services.

The really big difference between new media (websites, blogs, facebook, twitter) and old media (television, radio, outdoor) is the cost. New media is often free. There is, of course, a slight catch. Two, in fact. You need to understand these issues in order to benefit from this free-for-use communication channel.

The first catch is that TV and radio broadcasts were expensive, so users tolerated advertising because it subsidized their cost of usage. However, because of the low cost of communication and even hardware, internet usage is very cheap. Since there is no subsidy involved, consumers see ads mostly as a nuisance.

The second catch is that in the past information was a powerful tool to attract audiences. In the pre-digital era, data was hard to find and audiences were grateful to those who provided it in an easy-to-absorb format. So if your communication was informative, audiences would flock to you. Today, we are flooded by information – almost everything you want to know is easily available online. What audiences want now is someone who will help them make sense of it, convert this information to something they can use. Information is cheap, Insight is expensive.

What this means is that if you can make your communication non-intrusive and insightful, you can market your stuff for free! If your target audience has internet access, you must have a new media strategy. If your target audience is unlikely to be on the internet, you may still find that you need a new media strategy to reach out to influencers like media.

New media requires effort to get it right. Here are some constructs that have worked for me in the past, and which you may find useful as you build out your new media strategy.

Adopt a “mall & main-street” approach. Retailers often have their company showrooms on the main street in addition to being present in malls. Similarly, a company needs to have its own corporate website (main street) in addition to being present on aggregators like YouTube. Aggregators give you a chance to attract audiences that are not familiar with you.
Dedicate effort to create insight – tips, trends etc. Not only should you publish these on your website, but also post them on other relevant sites like blogs, industry publications. This will attract audiences to your website, as well as increase your search ratings.
Eliminate human latency. Many web-users want everything instantly. So provide automated tools for them to get all the information they need in a self-service manner. Where possible enable online purchasing, otherwise enable a chat or phone model which allows 24x7 closing of deals.
Be connected and consistent. Ensure that all your new media channels are connected to each other and that the messages are similar

Which new media you should use depends upon your target audience and the time you can spare. Here’s a handy reckoner:


Adapted from No Money Marketing, Jessie Paul, McGraw-Hill India

Once you’ve got the hang of new media, you can communicate direct to your customers and prospects, for free!

Published in the May issue of Management Next. Visit www.managementnext.com to subscribe and get access to this and other great management articles.

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