It happened again yesterday. We were on a call with a prospective retail food client who was interested in learning more about our experience in marketing via social media. He went on to explain the company’s plan for launch and expansion which included a retail product distribution plan and some – albeit limited – media support. That led the client to the conclusion that social media would be a great way to create some inexpensive buzz for new product. All of us had the same thought at the same time – WRONG!
One of the great difficulties in launching a retail food product is obtaining slots at retail stores. It’s a huge challenge, and in order to avoid the big slotting fees, oftentimes new and underfunded category entrants decide to go the smaller and independent grocery retailer route. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that strategy. But what is wrong is having a tenuous business plan (many companies start this way) and then hoping that a limited investment in social media will create a viral buzz taking your new brand to stratospheric heights.
A good social media initiative is now standard practice for most integrated marketing plans. Having people become aware of a brand, talk about a brand, recommend a brand to their friends as well as engage with the brand helps drive micro conversions (steps along the purchase path) which contribute to the holy marketing grail – a consumer purchase! At the same time hoping that a limited budget for social media will create a buzz for a new brand that will have people ask their local retailer about the brand is the longest of longshots.
Unless you have a huge celebrity endorser (there goes the inexpensive route) or come up with a brilliant viral marketing idea that catches fire (everyone thinks this is easy and common – it’s neither), a social media campaign for an unknown brand will fail at bringing in significant sales 99 times out of 100 if not more. We work with a number of clients and brands that have smaller budgets and we’re always looking for the best way to deliver a high-value, high ROI campaign. You might be interested to know that for the most part the recommendations we make for our smaller budget clients do not include social media activities. What those clients need first and foremost are…SALES.
The bottom line is that we totally advocate social media as a tactic to drive consumer engagement, brand awareness and incremental steps to a consumer purchase. But to expect social media on behalf of a new brand to deliver a straight line inexpensive path to success is using hope as a strategy. And we all know how that ends up.
Do you agree?