What’s a Brand Manager to do?

With a plethora of marketing channels to use, which ones are right for you and your budgets?

There was a time, not so long ago, that the options for brand managers were fairly simple and were clearly defined.

To raise awareness for the brand and increase advocacy, there was above-the-line communication. Remember when people used to actually look out for the last ads on TV? Come on, I can’t be alone in remembering those days?

For driving sales, there was direct mail. Yes, you had to flight for attention on the doormat, but with clever thinking you could usually guarantee a response rate of 4%!

And finally there were events, which were great for pressing the flesh and getting your brand (and yourself) into the trade press.

Fairly straightforward and everything fitted together nicely.

Then along came social media and smartphones and tablets and the world’s gone out of the window.

So how does the smart brand manager still get brand advocacy, drive sales and get their brand mentioned by all the right people?

YouTube

Apart from being the world’s second most used search engine (and yes, a surprising number of brand managers still forget this) YouTube has become what ITV and Channel 4 used to be – the place to go to see the ‘ads’ that capture your imagination.

YouTube can help your business to:

Create a brand profile
Reach a broad, unspecified demographic
Demonstrate your brand’s relevance with ‘how to’ videos
Engage with consumers through UGC (User Generated Content)

Cost: £ – £££ Perfect as a platform for UGC ‘how to’ films and viral, brands are now spending more and more on creating good content

Facebook

Facebook says that 24 million people in the UK now use Facebook every single day. That’s nearly a third of the population who simply can’t let a day pass without checking their Facebook page. And for that reason it comes as no surprise that in a statement via its PR agency, Facebook said that “businesses should focus on people who come back online every single day”.

But why?

Has this simply become something that ‘you must do’ and like the Emperor’s New Clothes, no one’s questioning its relevance. Experience says that Facebook is full with mums and dads and those who are 30+. Meanwhile the ‘kids’ are leaving it in droves.

And as for the importance of building a fan base, recent research is showing that in reality people don’t engage with branded social content very often, if at all.

The percentage of brand Fans who interact with brand posts is 0.7% on Facebook*.

These are not random people. These are brand Fans. People you would expect to be brand champions and people who you would expect to interact with content that a brand posts.

And before you say that this is just one example of research and therefore maybe skewed – this has been confirmed by the Ehrenberg Institute who recorded that just 0.5% of Facebook Fans interact with the posts of those brands that they’re fans of.

So what use is Facebook?

As Will Stevens of 123 Reg says: “Facebook offers you the chance to build a community around your business. You can use it for gathering feedback, passing on useful and interesting information and handling complaints. It has an ad platform as well, which you can use to promote your content, such as blog posts, and the products you want to sell. The biggest drawback of Facebook is its lack of organic reach. This means that even if you have built up a large following on the site, very few people will see your posts unless you pay to promote them.”

For all this, Facebook can help your business to:

Boost brand awareness
Boost sales with advertising
Create a community

Cost: £ – ££ Rather than budget, social media can eat into your time. If you can’t do it regularly yourself, look to get support.

Twitter

Twitter has been branded vacuous by a lot of people, but that’s simply because they have failed to utilise it correctly and to see it for what it is. It is a great platform from which to communicate both quickly and intimately with consumers. And as such you should be using it as a platform through which to start the communication, leading consumers into deeper more relevant conversations elsewhere.

Twitter can help your business to:

Address customer concerns
Boost sales with advertising
Boost lead numbers
Boosting customer retention with ‘instant’ support

Cost: £ – However, you do need to have a social media team in place to do this properly.

Instagram

Pictures and short film clips are Instagram’s lifeblood. Therefore Instagram is only relevant to those brand who can post regular images about either their products or the people who use their service. Think of it as the modern version of the 48-sht poster. You have a split second to capture the viewer’s attention, but where it differs from simple above-the-line communication, get it right, and you’ll create a follower. A follower who will also, hopefully, be posting content that you can use.

In short – use Instagram to show off!

Instagram can help your business to:

Boost brand awareness
Boost product awareness
Boost lead numbers
Boosting sales numbers through product promotion

Cost: £ This can be incredibly cheap as you can simply create images using a handy smart device.

Pinterest

Just like Instagram, this is a visual social media platform, however, there are no films.

Rather you can create themed ‘boards’ that users can interact with. These give you the opportunity to really connect with consumers – as they’re notified when you add to a given board.

Pinterest can help your business to:

Boost brand awareness
Boost product awareness
Boost lead numbers
Boosting sales numbers through product promotion

Cost: £ – As above.

LinkedIn

This is positioned as the social media channel for businesses. In truth, few brands or for that matter, businesses have managed to use it effectively for anything other than recruitment. That said, sole traders have found it to be an effective resource for new business.

LinkedIn can help your business to:

Find the right staff
Boost leads
Raise your personal profile

Cost: £££ (saved) – You can save yourself huge recruitment costs here, but you will need to invest time then going through all the CVs.

TV

OK. So now that YouTube’s here, TV’s dead right?

Wrong.

Consumers have simply changed their viewing preferences. In fact, according to Nielsen, 45% of tablet owners watch TV and use their tablet together at least once a day. So while they might not be ‘focussed’ on your ad, the opportunities for driving viewers straight form the 30” commercial to a purchase have improved.

TV can help your business to:

Raise its profile
Drive sales
Empty your bank account (It’s still very expensive!)

Cost: ££££££ – Creating the commercial, buying airtime etc isn’t cheap, but there still isn’t anything quite like TV for creating brand advocacy.

Email

I’ve place this marketing platform directly under TV because of the fact that according to Nielsen, checking email is the most popular activity for tablet owners while watching TV (61%). This is followed by visiting social networking sites (47%) and looking up information about TV programs.

Email is also the perfect way to stay in touch with customers, ether cross selling, making them aware of new products, add-ons or simply incentivising recipients so that they become a channel through which you can get new customers.

Email can help your business to:

Boost sales
Drive engagement
Drive new business

Cost: £ – As part of a broader strategy, email is very cost effective, with the emphasis being on effective.

Direct Mail

There’s never been a better time to revert to this traditional marketing tool. Why? Because no one else is using it and you’ll have no competition on the doormat. Now with the added advantage of PURLs (Personalised URLs) you can really drive engagement, achieving response rates that are in double figures, so long as your creativity is up to scratch. More than that, the tangible nature of print can reinforce your brand’s characteristics.

Direct Mail can help your business to:

Drive sales
Build your brand
Develop an online CRM strategy

Cost: ££ – Targeted direct mail is a perfect tool to have in every marketeers arsenal and can pound for pound can outperform most platforms.

This is just a quick snapshot of how you can use just some of the platforms available. But to summarise, in many ways, there’s never been a better time to be brand manager. You have more opportunities than ever before to connect with your chosen demographic and it’s all clearly trackable, so you can achieve a defined ROI. However, no one platform can deliver everything that you want and therefore, be prepared to recognise that some of the more popular platforms may not actually be right for you. It’ll help your budget to go further and more than that, you’ll be able to focus on those areas that are truly relevant to you – allowing you to get the results you want.

* Forrester Q1 2014 US Top 50 Brands Social WebTrack