More importantly, what are your customers looking at and where?

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There was a time not so very long ago when planning your brands media activity was a straightforward process. Audiences could be relied upon to act in certain ways and to follow predefined viewing and readership patterns. Life was simple if you were a planner.

But then something changed. Well actually – everything changed.

The arrival and subsequent explosion of social media forced planners to rethink the Brand / Channel / Audience equation. Social media did not follow the rules of traditional media and that made a lot of people very nervous. It was rebellious, undisciplined and accessible anywhere and at any time and people loved it for all of these reasons.

For the first time control of where, when and how people were exposed to and accessed information was out off the control of the planning departments and in the hands of the individual. People were becoming their own broadcast networks with their own followers.

Audiences were no longer faceless A, B, C1 demographics who could be relied upon to line up at 7:45pm on a Monday and Wednesday evening to be spoon fed brand messages during Coronation Street. They were suddenly real people with Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and they were talking and tweeting with one and other. They were sharing experiences and discussing views on everything from politics to which brand of shampoo they preferred.

In an attempt to regain some form of control, many planners began to reposition themselves as authorities in specific disciplines. In doing so, the discipline of media planning itself fractured and broke away from its rightful place at the marketing table instead of embracing the opportunity and combining its knowledge and market insights to maximum effect.

However, limiting yourself to just one area of expertise reduces your ability to engage with the very people you are looking to communicate with.

Think of it as going to a party and getting stuck in the kitchen with someone who insists on telling you the complete history of the Great Northern Railway. Yes, they have a defined area of expertise – but will you want to talk to them again?

People get bored and unless you can keep their attention, they will move onto someone more interesting and with more to say for themselves.

So if you are going to put your brands future in the hands of Roy Cropper – then your brand is in most likelihood going to come a cropper.

Forget B2B and B2C marketing, its P2Pthat counts.

We think it is time that brands stopped trying to pigeonhole the people they are targeting into neat definable clichés. Society is not that simple. In the world of B2B marketing for example, many brands and planners forget that behind the ‘B’ in business that there is a ‘P’ as in person making the decisions.

Our approach is to target the person and not the cliché. We focus on getting to know the behaviour of the individual and identifying the content they will find most relevant – content they will want to view, use and share. In achieving this, we are effectively turning each person in a brand advocate of the product or service we are selling.

From observing peoples behaviour, we can also identify other areas where we can reinforce our brand truth in a meaningful and relevant manner.

In our world, it’s not about digital and it’s not about channels. It’s about people and understanding their behaviour so we can manage and successfully stimulate positive behavioural change.

The psychology behind P2P

As a species we are genetically programmed to be socially aware and to be communicative with one and other.

Indeed long before iPhones and Blackberry’s were even thought of, our ancestors were busy Tweeting and blogging on cave walls all across Europe, North America and Africa. Later they were chiselling profiles on any surface they could find and when they ran out of people to communicate with here on Earth, they launched the Pioneer 10 mission in 1972 to search for a new form of life in outer space to talk to.

We simply love to communicate.

However – for a brand to successfully engage with people, it has to be prepared to communicate and understand what ‘communication’ means. P2P works because it is a two-way process. It lets people engage with the brand and have a say.

It makes the brand someone as opposed to something. The brand steps down from its historic place on the pulpit where for generations it preached at the masses and it allows the brand to enter into dialogue with people. It allows the brand to earn a ‘trust’ value.

This insight into the human communications value hierarchy system shows us that people are increasingly basing purchasing decisions on the advice of family, friends and peers. Think about it. When was the last time you booked a hotel without first going to TripAdvisor and seeing what people have had to say about it?

Yet despite this knowledge, many brands continue to ignore the opportunity they have for becoming part of that influencing hierarchy and earning a trust value.

Change is good

Change keeps us on our toes. And for those willing to explore the opportunities presented by behavioural led P2P communication strategies, the future promises to be very exciting indeed.

However – at the risk of being taken out and stoned by the digital evangelists in our midst, social media remains a medium that has still not been fully realised. There is no end of brands preaching about its virtues, but in reality, very few have had the steal to commit to a fully immersive, behavioural led strategy.

Whilst there can be no denying that statistically, social media makes an impressive case for itself, as a tool within the marketers arsenal, used in isolation social media like any other channel will have a limited effectiveness.

For brands to fully capitalise on the opportunity that exists today to engage with the people they do business with, there has to be a fundamental change in the behaviour of marketers first and foremost.

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4 comments

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  2. Rickey Oza

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