I came across a really thought-provoking post in Social Media Today a little while back, and it made me reflect on how businesses are defining “value” and, regrettably, how sometimes the “valuable” is overlooked.
Whereas Eric Tsai says in his article that:
“Let’s face it, most businesses want to add value to the bottom line which means making sales and growing profits,”
I don’t think they fully take into account what contributes to that bottom line. While I’m not here to denounce the importance of tallying the numbers or gauging an ad’s success based on increased product sales, I would like to stress the different factors that make those sales possible.
As Eric’s article proposes, a sale is the product of one of two things:
- Affirmation & Emotional Validation; or
- Information & Data
These things work together to establish trust, which is—at its core—the basis for brand loyalty.
I would like to propose a third factor to this mix. First, I’d like to start with a scenario:
You see a commercial for a skydiving company. Let’s call this place SkyMaster. The person jumps out of the plane, of course with an initial look of terror…and then it’s like the flip of a switch: the apprehension turns into absolute nirvana. There’s rock-oriented music driving the scene in the background as the skydiver musters up enough courage to do tumbles in the air, arms outstretched, while the company’s contact information and telephone number span the screen.
If you’re a viewer and you happen to be an adrenaline seeker, this ad could be thrilling. It combines both of the aforementioned persuasion tactics – an emotional appeal and information – to create a marketing technique that has twice the punch. SkyMaster could easily compare its sales before and after the ad campaign to see if increased activity correlates.
Now imagine adding a third component to this mix, notwithstanding traditional media, of course. Imagine that in that same commercial appeared a Twitter handle of a company representative – @SkyMasterJonie – to contact for more information. Social media creates another communication avenue for companies, taking a risk and encouraging customers to further investigate products and services and form opinions about brands.
Let’s extend our skydiving scenario a bit further, shall we:
Adam sets the remote down, heart pumping out of his chest, staring at the place on his TV screen where the SkyMaster diver had looked so deliriously happy just a minute before. Taking a second to let his heart rate regulate, he pulls out his computer, pops open Twitter and sends an @reply to Jonie, the SkyMaster representative from the ad:
@SkyMasterJonie Just saw your amazing commercial! Would love to take to the sky, but I’ve heard of parachutes failing…
@AdamLovesDirtBikes987 Hi Adam, so good to hear from you. Glad you liked the commercial. Don’t worry; while that can happen, SkyMaster remains 100% accident free.
@SkyMasterJonie Oh, what a relief!
@AdamLovesDirtBikes987 I know skydiving for the first time can be scary. I’d love to answer any questions that you have over email or DM. email@example.com
It may not be visible at first glance, but Jonie has accomplished something here. She did not give a direct sales pitch, she did not pressure Adam into making a decision. She was a face to a company; she was a resource. Adam will walk away from this conversation feeling appreciated and will feel more confident in deciding if skydiving is right for him, armed with both information and a positive SkyMaster association. Can that translate directly into numbers? Maybe not. But what it could do is contribute to a later purchasing decision. And Adam presumably has friends, right? People share positive knowledge amongst each other, offline and online. Be reminded that a company’s audience sometimes holds the loudest and most-respected marketing voice.