• Barry Michael Aldridge

Social Media Marketing.



What are the five P’s of the marketing mix?

The P’s of marketing have been in place for an incredibly long time, predating digital marketing and remain one of the most important factors to consider when marketing products/services (through multiple channels).


There continues to be a development of the marketing P’s where some now teach the 7 P’s of marketing whilst others expand even further.


However, the traditional and most used 5 P’s of the marketing mix are:

1.      Product

2.      Price

3.      Place

4.      Promotion

5.      Packaging


Product

Important for any product or service is to differentiate from competitors. Differentiation can be in the form of quality, service, guarantees, lifetime support through to innovation, trademarks or patents.


Whilst Unique Selling Points (USPs) are becoming rarer, Key Selling Points (KSPs) are still relatively easy to promote.


There are differing forms of innovation. In 2015, I designed a live streaming insurance claims app and was later told by a CIM Level 7 Postgraduate tutor that I had invented a product which was a genuine innovation and had rapidly transformed an entire industry for the better.


Asset management for rail currently fascinates me.


Products and services are vital to all forms of marketing where macro influenced conformity may be important. As such, in 2018 the rail industry introduced a new EN 45545-2 fire safe legislation. Flotec products conform to these safety critical requirements.


Price

Price has always been and will always be an incredibly fierce area of marketing.


Important to consider is not to undersell a product or service. If a ‘Critical Success Factor’ is high quality, then the price should reflect this appropriately. Many consumers prefer to pay more with the added peace of mind that the product or service is robust, fit-for-purpose, reliable and of the highest specification/quality.


As an example, Flotec supplies hydraulic rail hoses and connection solutions for the maintenance and overhaul of traction fleets and rolling stock. Where safety, quality and reliability are paramount, the pricing structure needs to be relative to the application.


Promotional and limited reduced pricing may be appropriate for seasonal offers or new product launches.


There are many influences which effect price such as consumer demand, competitive activity through to raw material costs or supply and demand complications. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, pricing may become an urgent consideration.


Pricing is incredibly exciting, challenging and in constant change; making it one of the most important P’s to consider and continuously evaluate.


Place

Having identified product(s) and/or service(s) and a viable pricing structure, deciding where to place company offerings becomes paramount. Placement can include, but is not limited to:

·        Online commerce

·        Online distributors

·        Third party logistics (3PL)

·        Trade shows, exhibitions and events

·        Trade counters and stores

·        Owned shops or supply to retail outlets

·        Showrooms

·        Pop up stores

·        Direct supply to industry


Additional marketing activity helps define the most appropriate placement strategy such as segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP), Ansoff’s Growth Matrix and PESTEL analysis, to name a few.


Promotion

A fundamental necessity of the Flotec marketing strategy is the promotion of products and/or services. Promotional activity has changed incredibly throughout the years where the internet has opened a plethora of exciting opportunities for consideration.


Promotional activity can include:

·        Organic SEO

·        Paid advertising

·        Shopping adverts

·        Re-targeting campaigns

·        Banner displays and pop up displays

·        Email campaigns

·        Hybrid direct mail

·        Social media promotion (paid or organic)

·        Face-to-face

·        In-store or trade counter promotions

·        Traditional advertising such as newspapers, television, radio or trade press

·        Exhibitions/events


Promotional routes to market are varied and wide.


There will be continuing changes in how we are able to create marketing promotions in the coming months and years. As IoT (the Internet of Things) becomes an ever-expanding technology, the ethical use of data will become much more sophisticated and targeted.


The list of promotional opportunity is extensive and with the on-going digital explosion, marketing promotion will continue to be an undeniably powerful ‘P’ of the marketing mix.


Packaging

When striving to create a harmonious omni-channel marketing mix, packaging is an often overlooked but incredibly poignant medium. Packaging is a continuation of overall brand experience.


Packaging is both functional (protecting a product in transit, for example), aesthetic and brand consistent.


With most people and businesses being aware of environmental issues and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) obligations, it is more important than ever to ensure that packaging is both sustainable and environmentally friendly.


Packaging is more than a box or bag containing tangible items. Packaging also includes corporate clothing, vehicle livery and building signage.


Indeed, a company property can be considered as packaging where the Flotec building is fully powered by solar panelling, enforcing the organisations commitments to environmentally friendly procedures.


Conclusion

The P’s of marketing are a powerful tool in a marketer’s arsenal and can be applied to all marketing functions. Many people consider social media to be a separate form of marketing, independent of traditional application such as the P’s. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.


The P’s of marketing can and should be applied to all social media activity.


What are the different steps involved in developing a social media plan?

Social media is an incredibly powerful marketing medium which is often overlooked, used irresponsibly or misunderstood.


‘Utilisation Guidelines’ are useful in laying the foundations of concrete ground rules and best practice.


If multiple personnel manage various social media accounts, then the guidelines will help to provide a consistent tone or voice and brand message as well as alleviate the threat of exposure of commercially sensitive information or product leaks prior to official release.


Furthermore, it may be prudent to introduce a social media policy within employee handbooks.


It is wise to have a responsible person in charge of social media accounts.


Historically, I have managed all corporate social media accounts and currently own the Flotec Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.


The steps in developing a social media plan include:


Stretch

Social media is a wide-reaching medium which if used appropriately, can be incredibly effective. Unless in a closed group, social media publishing is very public domain and as such, should be professional in its composure.


Whilst social media is still a relatively new addition to the marketing toolbox, it requires the same industry/product knowledge and expertise used in more traditional marketing techniques.


When considering stretch, it is important to appoint a social media expert who possesses all necessary industry, product or service knowledge to ensure that brand integrity, respect and loyalty is retained.


Stretch or ‘reach’ is very positive for a brand if it demonstrates professional capability, industry expertise and intelligence. It is far easier to lose trust than gain it. Therefore, content must be of the highest composure to retain trust, instil confidence and nurture brand advocacy.


Build a Community

Building a social community is very much about providing stakeholders the opportunity to be brand advocates. Encouraging your community to engage through likes, positive comments, discussions and sharing is a wonderful way to develop a positive, vibrant and enthused community.


Generating topical and thought leadership pieces is a good way to grow a supportive community that talks positively about your brand on your behalf.


If used correctly, social media and the communities it generates can expand into additional marketing channels whilst adding genuine commercial kudos and gravitas.


Watch out for ‘Social Media Experts’

Social media is in constant change. In recent years, there has been an up rise in live streaming and video content creation. Many people have jumped on the bandwagon of being a social media expert and have created marketing agencies as well as become ‘famous’.


However, social media does require marketing prowess and technical understanding. If outsourcing, it is wise to ensure you ask consultants for relevant experience, tangible results and statistics with accompanying qualifications and application of a professionally structured marketing strategy. As previously discussed, traditional marketing models still do and always will apply.


I always advise younger marketers not to specialise in social media alone but more, to become a well-rounded marketer as social media itself may not necessarily exist in its current guise in the not-too-distant future.


Be mindful, whether employing internally or outsourcing, appointing a social media ‘expert’ requires the same due diligence as any other acquisition.


Be There

Important to consider is, the necessity to react. Engagement is an important facet of social media marketing. It can be time consuming but if you have made the investment of initiating interaction, it is only polite to respond. Nobody likes being ignored and it is no different on social media.


Being there, engaging, interacting and responding to participation is powerful social media marketing which delivers positive results whilst keeping a brands image in favour with both existing and potentially new clients.


Be a Person

Undeniably, we live in a world of automation and chatbot technology. Whilst such marketing tools hold merit, it is still important to be human and display personality and character.


Within the realms of social media, being human is crucial. As the saying goes; “People buy from People” and social media by the very nature of its name, means that human engagement pays dividends.


Whilst we are becoming increasingly accepting of chatbots within website environments (Gatwick Airport has one to assist with departure times and airport restaurant recommendations), social media is still very much all about human behaviour.


Certainly, interesting times are ahead with ai advancements, but being human remains very meaningful.


Follow Others

Social media is not a one-way act of communication. As an example, it is best practice to interact positively with your community, whether they be followers, connections or group members.


Following others is a good way to stay in touch with stakeholders as well as be in tune with what is being said about your brand whilst keeping up to speed with industry/sector events and developments.


What is and how can you build a blog?

Blogging was at one time an incredibly popular form of creating content and is still considered important although, certain factors are beginning to affect its influence.


The continuing rise of social media has introduced a new way of delivering online messaging such as quick visuals and text snippet posts through to the rise of live streaming or creation of video stories.


Video blogging (Vlogging) is also on the increase.


Having said that, blogging is still a necessary digital practice and if implemented wisely, can help drive engagement and relevant traffic through keyword structuring and link building.


With blogging it is important to be topical, interesting and valuable.


People’s attention span has shortened where lengthy text may not be very desirable.


However, I like to use social media posts as a platform to drive interested viewers to the main content feature.


Combining a short snippet of an exciting paragraph of the blog in a highly visual and eye-catching social media post can and does yield great interest and measurable referral traffic.


Within a blog, you can link to additional pages as well as previous postings. An important factor is that blogging content works well with search engine indexing.


I always consider blogging to reflect the brand. So, if there are spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, this could have negative consequences for brand perception, appearing sloppy, unprofessional or apathetic.


A professional tone of voice and comprehensive grasp of writing and language will enhance credibility. Equally valuable is the need to create writing of interest and thought leadership.


Deciding what to write about can be a frustrating challenge. My style is to choose subject matters that whilst may not be immediately associated with direct product lines, do discuss topical industry or professional themes.


I typically write about industries, export, marketing and technology, which has gained an impressive following and engagement rate over recent years.


It is a balancing act to make a blog short enough to not lose the reader’s attention but informative enough to provide detailed information.


In the short term, blogging is here to stay and does add value. As social media and online activity continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how the value of blogging transforms.


Exciting times ahead!
















This content was written by Barry Michael Aldridge FCIM CMktr - Marketing Guru for Flotec Industrial Limited as part of an assignment for an Advanced Diploma in Digital Marketing.

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