I remember a time when social media marketing didn’t exist. I’m not particularly old either, and that’s scary. Don’t worry, this isn’t another commentary detailing the changes to marketing we’ve all been through, the point is simply this; things change, and they change quickly.
For me, marketing success is about adapting to change and thriving in the “new normal” as and when it comes up. This is no truer than in the FMCG and Retail industries. In the past, marketing for these brands involved two, perhaps three different media channels; TV, radio, emails and maybe some direct mail or door drops. Within those campaigns, you might do some promotional PoS merchandise, but that was fundamentally it.
Today, things are very different. Consumers have choice like never before, and finding out where, and when they are, at any one time, is getting increasingly difficult to plan for. With so many different media channels being utilised at once by consumers who are increasingly difficult to target and segment, the challenge for marketers is obvious, and difficult to overcome.
What retail and FMCG brands currently do
I see a number of retail and FMCG brands regularly, and we discuss social media. Some brands see it as less of a sales channel, and more as an extension of their customer services. This activity is hard to monetise in terms of benefit to the brand, and unsurprisingly, it’s not always popular with management and finance.
However, I also speak to brands that do use social media as a sales channel, or at least incorporate elements of salesmanship into their social media efforts, and on the whole they are generally much happier with social media as part of their business. Why? Because it’s easier to see the benefit to the bottom line.
I believe wholeheartedly that yes retail and FMCG brands should absolutely be looking at their social media channels as a sales channel as it is so much more than just a customer service tool.
What they should really do
If you’re a retail or an FMCG brand, and you sell indirectly to the consumer (for example, you make bikes, and you sell them through a network of retailers) then surely the best strategy for you would be to somehow get your content to your retail partners which promote your brand, right? Surely your retail partners will have a good base of followers; followers who are loyal to that retailer, who trust their judgement, who have a personal relationship with their customers?
So if you gave them your content to post as their own content to their own social media profiles; that would push your brand to be considered by the consumer at the point of purchase, right?
The IT industry, an industry that’s built on selling indirectly, uses this process all the time, and it is a cornerstone of their social media activity. I may be biased (personally seeing the results of this from Microsoft, Adobe, Xerox, Oracle, etc.), but retail and FMCG brands can do this too, and get the same impressive results. With proof already out there, perhaps you need to be asking yourself the question “Do I have the right tools?”