Social media has become a game changer for many retailers. Some have gone as far as slashing their traditional advertising budgets to the bone, electing instead to rely almost entirely on social networks to carry their company’s marketing message. Sounds good,
doesn’t it? All that money saved… let your clients do the talking for you… no more paid advertising. ”To heck with the marketing mix,” they’re saying: “It’s old school.”
There’s no question that social networks will introduce you to clients you might not reach any other way. But can a photography brand be built on social networks alone? Not likely. When you consider that only 20 percent of consumers open emails, and social media, by its very nature, is intermittent and fragmented, a photography studio must rely on other advertising channels to deliver a cohesive marketing message to qualified clients who are the bedrock of a solid business. When added to a studio’s marketing mix, social media can enhance a brand by maintaining relationships and spreading the word of studio activities virally. But to rely solely on social media to build a brand and acquire clients can lead you away from the very clients you need to reach to assure long-term financial success.
Social media chit-chat, combined with on-line “deals” that stress low price, have a way of lulling retailers into a mindset that assumes consumers are looking ONLY for low price and not for an assurance that the product or service they are seeking is worth a higher price because of its value. Defining value, has been, and most likely will continue to be, the province of brand-building strategies such as direct-marketing campaigns, client education, Internet marketing, public displays and exhibitions, and public relations activities.
The short-term allure of shutting off advertising dollars in favor of social media can quickly turn into the long-term devastation of having to rebuild a brand from the ground up when competitors who understand how a brand is built and nurtured over time crank up the promotional volume and dance away with your customers. Social media clearly belongs in a studio’s marketing mix. Just don’t make the mistake of believing that it IS the marketing mix.
Next week: How does direct marketing fit into the marketing mix?