The advent of social media has led to new strategy development and various opportunities to do business in different ways. This post will focus on product manufacturers and how they can combine traditional marketing methods with social media to increase brand awareness and purchase intentions. This strategy is referred to as ‘social product marketing’. It is based on the concept of the hierarchy of effects model, developed by Lavidge and Steiner (1961), which argues that people pass through several stages from product awareness, to preference and eventually to purchase. This model can also be applied in a B2B context because company decision-makers go through similar stages when deciding which firm to do business with.
Hierarchy of effects model
Why social product marketing?
The purpose of social product marketing is to combine social media strategies with traditional marketing methods. Social media tends to influence the first few stages of the hierarchy of effects model (awareness, knowledge and liking) because companies can create communities on the web where their target audience can interact and engage with each other and the brand/company. This interaction does not necessarily always lead to sales, but can increase brand favourability and recommendations. Traditional marketing methods are then required to increase the rate at which people move through the stages by educating specifiers, buyers and influencers, eventually leading to purchase. This combination of social media and traditional marketing methods will increase the number of transitions as well as the speed at which they transition.
****Therefore, the key of social product marketing is to build community hubs focused around your product, which allow you to then implement marketing programmes and educate your audience that can help move these community members through the purchase process.
Product manufacturers in the construction industry can leverage social media such as Twitter, Facebook and especially Youtube to raise awareness of their products. By creating company profiles on these social networks and establishing a digital presence, you increase the amount of companies that know about you and the products/services you provide. Writing blogs demonstrating the ‘green’ aspects of products, how products are tested, manufactured and developed, and then on to creating short videos to demonstrate its usage. These are perfect platforms to demonstrate your product’s unique selling points to architects and specifiers who need further education on specific subjects such as technical, installation and environmental factors of your products. Demonstration videos can illustrate the different ways your product can be used and show its flexibility and show its relevance which is just as powerful, if not more, than creating an advert within an industry publication. Satisfied client testimonials can also be featured in your blog or video to increase the credibility because people tend to trust fellow peer recommendations.
How to implement it
Good product advertising is usually a driver for conversation because it tells a story and elicits opinions and feelings. Social media has brought about a shift in advertising with the rise of user generated content. Product manufacturers can benefit from this because content produced and shared by architects, specifiers and designers can help increase awareness and liking for your product without you having to spend any more money. Let the architects, designers and engineers to do the marketing for you. Construction companies can raise their business profile by engaging with architects and designers who have used their products and encourage them to share their good experience with their business peers and followers. Social product marketing is therefore more about brand engagement and bringing people and companies who use your products together on an emotional level where you can then educate them further and provide them with relevant content and develop your product further.
Providing added-value such as online calculators, customised product specification applications, CAD drawing access or use of an online library for company followers, providing instant customer service by answering questions about the product and showing different ways in which the product can be used, is also another way to speed up transition through the purchase decision-making process.
Most importantly, don’t treat social media as though it’s a foreign language. Leverage current and previous product marketing activities and integrate all channels and mediums so they work together by publishing and sharing it on various social platforms and offline publications. Most of the content and resources can be found in-house, you just have to gather it and present it digitally so that prospective clients have access to your knowledge and can gain an insight into your business and how it can help them. Having content online is also much more convenient and quicker for architects, designers and specifiers to find and consume.
The six main steps to implementing social product marketing are:
- 1. Monitor what is being said about your company and its products/services to know what activities to continue and which can be improved upon.
- 2. Find opinion leaders in your industry who can be targeted to write about your product by allowing them to trial it for a short period of time and write case studies which ca then be published to their followers in a blog or on social networking site like LinkedIn and Twitter.
- 3. Engage with your audience online (lots of digital savvy architects online) and become a source of knowledge in your industry by developing a community around your company’s products that facilitates discussion and interaction.
- 4. Facilitate transitions for the prospects that are at various stages of the purchasing cycle by implementing different marketing strategies for each group. For example, an architect or interior designer can be offered a link to a product demonstration video, a past visitor can be given access to webinars by registering their details (data capture) and an existing customer such as a builders merchant or trade store can be offered an exclusive online discount. This should encourage prospects to move along the stages from awareness and liking through to conviction and purchase.
- 5. Broadcast your content (blogs, white papers), tweet and share interesting articles and videos, upload useful presentation or product demonstrations onto Youtube or Slideshare. Include links to your site as well as others to increase SEO and ensure your content is distributed over as many platforms as possible which drives traffic (and hopefully sales) to your website.
- 6. Measure your marketing activities both online and offline to ensure your messages are consistent and all contribute towards your marketing goals.
The basic idea of social product marketing is finding a way in which traditional marketing strategies and social media can be integrated together to increase sales and devlop specifier/architect relationships. Social media has facilitated the production of online communities where like-minded people/businesses can share their experiences with different companies and their products/services. At the end of the day, the marketing goals remain the same, but the methods are altered to accommodate the digital shift.
Below is the AIDA (action, interest, desire, action) model which illustrates stages that website visitors go through from initial attention right through to the desired action when they are ready to converse or purchase. The loyalty dimension at the end is essential for any business, since it’s cheaper and easier to retain existing clients than it is to acquire new ones and strengthen relationships. Do you have content on your website or digital space which accommodates each of the emotions and motives below? Do you have the content to reward ‘loyal’ customers?
I would like to know your thoughts on this and whether you, as a product manufacturer, think social media marketing is relevant and appropriate when targeting architects, designers and specifiers when it is apparent that architects in particular are quite social savvy? What obstacles do you have to overcome (board level buy-in, eduction) and are the benefits worth the effort of having to change your current marketing activities to try and integrate social media? Does education become a major factor where marketing managers are having to constantly evolve and learn with the new ways of marketing and integration of channels and new mediums that you as a company are getting left behind? Are competitors better than you are educating and nurturing architects and designers? Over to you….