The era of forced marketing has ended. Consumers are fed up with straightforward selling techniques. So, marketers need to reform their strategies in order to improve selling techniques to be artful and include dramatic storytelling. This would result in consumers longing for lovely charm of the products, closing sale with deep relationship, and development of long-term relationship.
Delicately creating attraction for products and services inevitably increases production cost. But intelligent businessmen well realise that investment in mainstream advertisement media which cost hundreds of thousand baht per minute is not less costly. So, when the period of tasteless forced marketing has ended, advertisement budget needs to be shifted to other more appropriate activity, which is the storytelling to make the products sellable by themselves. Then, other new inexpensive media can be sourced to support words of mouth by consumers.
Social media like Twitter and Facebook has experienced tremendous growth in the 21st century. This is not driven by only a good luck of those youngsters of the Silicon Valley, but also by the desire of worldwide population. This is the new trend of consumers in the creative economy. They do not want to consume tasteless and boring information and news as they prefer a delicate whisper from their reliable friends.
What is extremely interesting is that there is a very low – or almost zero– cost in using social media. But since it is a free media accessible by everyone, a company wishing to deliver messages to its audience need outstanding content that draws their attention and can compete with all those mass message senders.
Companies which used to invest a huge amount of budget in radio and television media can superbly reserve social media area by investing only small money in developing creative content. This is to be published in a lot of social media choices to be selected at almost no cost. Effectiveness in attracting consumers depends on creativity power of the delivered content, both visual and audio, and how delicate it is to inspire words of mouth by the network users. Since most users do not get paid from advertising the products, the creativity level of the content is the determinant factor of the battle in this new media.
The “Illusion” that governs the whole business world is that social media is only a supporter in radio and television advertisement and it cannot play a major role in promoting products at all.
This is a great misunderstanding because most companies are using traditional framework in assessing social media. What you should not forget is that the enormous amount of budget spent on radio and television media does not cover only the broadcasting fee of own products for a few seconds, but also the expenses for producing creative content like quick news reporting, dramatic soap operas, or even fun and knowledgeable documentaries. Without these quality contents, consumers will unreluctantly switch channels. So, the advertisement expense is expensive because of the investment in producing creative content of those programme producers.
But the almost free access to social media channel causes companies to neglect the expensive “cost” of creative content development by radio and television programme producers, which is actually the reason why consumers are still willing to consume forced advertisements of the companies. So, instead of investing the budget saved from creating these creative contents in designing fun stories for own products, the companies, on the other hand, use traditional advertisement approach, which is to aggressively present the content about own products. They do not realise that the creative content which used to attract the audience to the channel has disappeared. When forcing own advertisement in the social media is not that effective, these companies are disappointed, say goodbye to the channel, and never reconsider own deep misunderstanding.
Formulating strategies to apply social media to present products and services in alignment with changing preference of consumers is the new battle for every company. Consumers tend to avoid uncreative advertisements, so businessmen need to review own PR strategy, especially by shifting tremendous amount of budget for television advertisement, which is becoming less effective, to investment in creative content development which are equally attractive as those TV series. But through delicately and artfully blending of products and services of the company in the content, the consumers will not deny it and will also warmly welcome the products. This is because the advertisement is not only junk information that disturbs their life, but also new and unique aesthetics which is a part of their lifestyle.
Microsoft is a giant company which has never been successfully challenged by new players. Even the internet guru like Netscape which used to beat the competition for a while was attacked by Bill Gates’ strategy in a mere moment. But finally, Google has become the “star” when it is the first company to break through Microsoft’s boundary. Its tip is social media strategy which does not force people to consume advertisement in the searched content. Instead, it selects only appropriate advertisements for the searching of each consumer and delicately presents them in a friendly style. This good friendship is overlooked by the careful Microsoft. This is not because Bill Gates does not have vision, but because the traditional advertisement vision has expired. Google’s creative advertisement is the true starting point of the creative economy time.
The drastic changing perspective in advertisement has caused both small and big companies to adjust their strategies. Certainly, the core competencies of most companies are quality and innovation of their products. So, they cannot invest time to increase creative value of the products. Nonetheless, if companies are courageous enough to step out of their familiarity and illusion to experience the wide world full of opportunities, they will discover that the budget invested in television advertisement yield shockingly decreased return. So, they need to be active in participating in the social media which almost costs nothing. The saved budget can be spent to hire creative entrepreneurs to formulate strategies to add creative value to their products. This will help companies which are experiencing growth obstacles due to lack of new attractive tactics step into the land of growing creative economy with hope to success.
Sourcing creative entrepreneurs to partner with the companies in penetrating social media is a key success factor for those companies wishing to enjoy tremendous growth in the 21st century. But the mission is not easy as companies in industrial structure and concept are prone to select and partner with those with similar perspective. Finally, partners with similar viewpoint will only provide the companies with comfort, and ability to deceive themselves that they have drastically changed the strategies to enter the creative economy era. But once the truth and failure step into the front door of these companies in the following years, companies’ shareholders will regret while their CEO hired with extremely expensive package will quit to serve a new company without any shame in own deliberate and non-deliberate actions.
Social media itself has various different natures. Applying only one creative content to all like Facebook, Twitter, or Google, is an inefficient resource utilisation. Companies need to be delicate enough to analyse and adjust the content to be suitable for each different social media. They need to be courageous enough to invest in continuous development of creative content, similar to those television programme producers. Also, they need to study and identify the right timing for delivery of information into the system so as to avoid cramming it for network users. More importantly, they need to invest in the compensation for influencers of the social media in applying their individual expertise and creativity in doing PR for products of the companies.
Influencers are creative people whom the companies need to keep an eye on. Strategies need to be crafted in alignment with each individual characteristics. Some may be willing to do the advertisement for free although they are not familiar with the companies. Others may be satisfied with getting a free use of the latest model of the products. Also, some may need attention so that they will be hired to work for the companies. All of these need delicate and well-planned management tactics and will result in wider public perception and admiration in the products.
A great opportunity for companies in Thailand is that most of them have only little understanding in social media. They are trapped in 2 illusions. First, they invest a lot of money to hire advertisement agencies who understand the nature of social media to handle this, but they neglect to invest budget for creative content development in parallel. So, the advertisements of the companies become junk which is avoided by consumers. Second, companies which are skillful enough to constantly develop creative content may neglect to shift a huge amount of budget for television advertisement into creative content management and publication to wider audience. This may be in terms of regularly holding exciting creative events of which the content may not relate to the company. For example, techniques in using Facebook to attract giant companies to hire you. Smart companies need to believe that if the content they developed is continuously valuable for social media members, it will surely help create good image of their products.
The tip in applying social media for product advertisement is therefore not to openly reveal the hidden agenda. But in fact, it is to intelligently link the content of the product with worldwide creative content. Hidden advertisement can be done if it is delicate enough and matches the demand of the consumers. This strategy is thus extremely challenging creative imagination of marketers and businessmen.
Creative economy is not only about blindly manufacturing and distributing products like the industrial period any more. It is in fact a paradigm shift of the business. It needs focus in transforming dry concrete value of products into an abstract joy that touches consumers. But in order for companies to communicate their delicacy to the consumers, they need to select an appropriate medium, which is the social media that was born to reform this world into a warm and friendly environment among convenient yet heartless technologies.
Translated by Thaya Wichayathian