Building a good brand name means gaining the trust and loyalty of your customers. One of the leading ways in which companies communicate its products and services is through direct marketing. Direct marketing is the process whereby companies utilise common communication channels like the telephone, face-to-face sales, direct mails and emails, catalogues, marketing kiosks to make their products known.
With increasing availability of faster Internet speeds, people are spending more time in front of their computers. The past few years has witnessed the rise of social networking sites as the new means of reaching to millions of people.
With information changing rapidly and coming in from all angles, it has never been a greater challenge for a company to introduce and maintain brand awareness. Even small and medium enterprises need to begin exploring the idea of using new media to effectively market their brand strategies.
Direct Marketing Vs. Social Media Strategies
As the means to promote a brand, both direct marketing and social media strategies share the same goal – to earn consumer trust through familiarity and information. An effective brand strategy starts with a company believing strongly in its products and services before it can be effectively channelled to its target audience. For purposes of limitation, direct marketing would not encompass selling directly to users of social networking sites.
Advantages of Direct Marketing
The strength of traditional direct marketing strategies, particularly telemarketing and face-to-face, is the virtually instantaneous feedback, plus the company has the opportunity to persuade the target audience when he or she seems unconvinced.
The interaction is more direct and intimate, which ideally creates a familiar atmosphere when done properly. However, when mishandled, direct marketing strategies can border on being intrusive. It continues to be one of the most effective sales approaches today, but it does not necessarily build a positive brand reputation.
Advantages of Social Media
On the other hand, social media is relatively new and appeals more to the younger generation. The network created is based on family, friendships, and communities with similar interests that may or may not be related to a business. Yet, it is commonly assumed that social media users are more receptive to new ideas and information that originate from their circle of friends.
Rather than having a marketer do most of the talking, consumers spread word of mouth through the exchange of comments. They might even go as far as to recommend a brand based on their own positive experiences. However, this highly cost-efficient way of promoting a brand requires consistent strategies and regularly updates to maintain customer interest.
Beware the Pitfalls
Marketing on social networking sites can be trickier than many might think. Security features block out potential spam and brand recall may be very limited since a user must “like” or “follow” a page before he or she is able to obtain more information about the brand.
On the other end of the spectrum, direct marketing materials offer an overload of information – brochures, catalogues, CDs, etc. – but are often disseminated by professionals who possess the means and expertise to distribute a product or service most efficiently than members of a social network community.
Perhaps the best solution is to plan your marketing strategy first, then survey the effectiveness of implementation.