Who is really in control?

Many brands hire specialty agencies to manage their social media programs. Outside of additional resources and a solid strategy, most of these decisions are made to help monitor, and to an extent manage, that particular brands image. Ah, but the best laid plans…

In the spring of 2011, someone from Chrysler’s social media team accidentally Tweeted the F-Bomb. Even with great social governance policies, the rogue employee sometimes just has his or her way… like what happened with VodafoneThe list goes on and on. Sometimes a brand sponsors the wrong person or event, sometimes their account gets hijacked and sometimes they say it got hacked when it was really someone on their own team.

What’s the message? Do your best to try and stay in control but deep down, in that place where you have spent time, money and effort to build up your brand bank account full of equity you know it to be true. You are not in control. At all. And it isn’t going to get better.

The reality of dynamic retail is that this loss of control isn’t only about social media. Show-rooming means even in your own environments, digital or physical, you can’t control the messaging or pathway to the buy. The line between traditional ad channels like television and outdoor are blurring with digital channels like Twitter thanks to innovative companies like Mass Relevance. Loyalty programs become “gamified” making everything a competition. Do a partnership with the wrong company (just ask some Groupon merchants) and instead of making deposits in your brand equity account you will be making withdrawals.

So what to do? You really don’t have any choice but to admit to yourself that while you may control the seeding of a conversation, what your :30 looks like or how your product looks in-stiore what happens after that is out of your reach. Some guidelines:

1.  Open Communication: either choose to enable the conversation or get directly involved in it.

2.  State Of The Union: write social governance policies and do your best to police.

3.  Fess Up: if you did something wrong assume everyone will find out. React fast and with transparency.

4.  Embrace Trends: don’t try and block show rooming or live shopping comparisons, make it easier for your customer to do it and use your footprint instead of a competitor’s.

You can do all sorts of research to help. Mashable, as do many sites, come up with fun but informative inforgraphics to help provide a lay of the land. Use your team and your partners to help strategize and execute. But I promise you one thing, if you try and put off the inevitable you will lose. Just ask Anthony Weiner.

TPN Spring Seasonal Pulse

Spring is here! Well, at least it is for those of us based in Texas.

The big spring news at TPN: our 2013 Spring Seasonal Pulse has begun. Seasonal pulse is our national survey that provides a deep dive into consumer mindsets, attitudes and feelings along with the behaviors they demonstrate both as consumers and shoppers, combined with a national audit of the retail environments they encounter in the most important shopping seasons of the year.

For more information, please contact jeff_froud@tpninc.com or cynthia_thayer@tpninc.com

Are QR Codes Dead?

Marketing strategist and blogger, B.L. Ochman, talks about new tech that she states will replace QR Codes in her recent Ad Age article, QR Codes are Dead, Trampled by Easier-to Use Apps…. We can nott agree more. Things like QR codes are not always successful because they are not always relevant to the shopper and her shopping experience. Digital marketing technology is most affective when used to eliminate a purchase barrier or improve the shopping experience by making it easier for shopper.

Just browsing?… That will be $5 dollars.

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If you’re looking for a good/fast way to lose your shopper…

Apparently, there is story in Australia that is attempting to charge store visitors each $5 for browsing. If the shopper doesn’t buy anything, the store claims they are owed a “just looking” fee.

While it would be nice to get an extra $5 for every look we get, reality is, shoppers are going to look. How else are they going to determine what they want to buy?

The Australian store claims that they are doing this because of the high-traffic browsers that are continually walking through their stores. Well, problem solved! Their new $5 solution could minimize any and ALL traffic.

Penalizing the shopper is never a good way to do business, adapting the shopping experience to changing shopper behaviors is a much better and more successful strategy.

While this isolated example is an extreme way of countering showrooming, its definitely not an isolated occurrence. Retailers everywhere know that showrooming is not going away.

Successful retailers will embrace show rooming and make it part of the overall shopping experience. Target, Best Buy and Walmart have added price checking and product scanning to their own apps rather than ban the use of mobile phones in theirs stores.

SXSW TPN Top 10 Trends

More than 30,000 people converged on Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference. In its 5th year, SXSW Interactive attracts global leaders in digital/social marketing, entrepreneurship and emerging technology. The key themes and trends at SXSW serve as poignant indicators of what’s important now and into the future. Here are the top ten takeaways:

Top 10 List

  1. Hardware is Hardcore: the divide between digital and reality is disappearing with the introduction of technology that enhances user experience by integrating with natural human behavior.
  2. The Best UI is no UI: Humans as the New Interface: the future of design and interaction will not take place on screens, but with the human body itself.
  3. Big Data and Social Media: Unlocking Social Media ROI? With Big Data, brands can monitor social (and shopper) behavior on a level that will allow them to segment individual consumers with personal and relevant messaging.
  4. Marketing in the NOW Real-Time Marketing allows brands to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. Agility and timing is key. A framework to achieve this must be organizationally driven.
  5. Mobile means Mobility: Shifting Consumer/Shopper Landscape Mobile experience must enhance current behavior or disrupt that behavior enough that it changes behavior itself.
  6. Brands as Media Empires: Growing Importance of Content Strategy The number of messaging channels will only grow, so brands must create a strategic framework to develop quality content that shines in each of the consumer touch points. The challenges of these channels will continue to evolve as consumers will spend less time seeking out content, but rather they will expect it to follow them. Extreme personalization combined with sophisticated filtering will empower people to have more granular control over the kind and mount of marketing messages they want.
  7. Creating Meaningful Interactions: Brands at SXSW Whether they surprise and delight, or connect on an emotional level, meaningful one-on-one brand-customer interactions ruled the day at SXSW.
  8. Cats Still Rule the Web (and the world?): Memes at SXSW Celebrities like Shaq, Al Gore, Rachel Maddow and Mayor Cory Booker were definitely popular, but one of the most popular celebrity wasn’t human…viral star Grumpy Cat drew lines around the block!
  9. Wearable Tech: The Future Wearable tech gives marketer’s a fertile ground to create new integrated experiences in food and drink discovery and trial. Consider matching brands with active/sports technology companies and gaming platforms to secure critical product placement mentions. Example: when a wearable device detects the need for nutritional supplements, sports drinks or nutritional bars.
  10. 3-D Printing a Realer Reality? 3-D printing continues to mature and moves closer and closer to becoming a reality

Easter Bunny = Budget Bunny for 2013

According to the NRF, American’s will spend $17.3B on Easter, but you can bet that shoppers will be mindful of their budgets, maximizing their spend to create memorable family experiences. From their survey, it appears that shoppers are spending no more than last year. What you can expect to see: more gifting (and, not just chocolate and candy) and more mobile/online shopping.