Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bloggers read this – it is the law!

On Dec 1, the FTC regulations regarding aspects of social media went into effect. First of all this is a good thing (not that regulations are good). It demonstrates that the era of social media has not only arrived but is a main part of business marketing and communications.

The FTC ruling is entitled “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. The ruling is mainly directed to online media and specifically blogging. The aim of the ruling is to provide consumer protection that is found in traditional advertising media.

Some aspects of the ruling:
• Full disclosure by bloggers, on their blog posts, when they are either receiving compensation or free products by organizations whose products or services are discussed in the blog posting.
• If a company or advertising agency provides a blogger or other online commenter with incentives the online comments will be treated legally as endorsements
• If you provide incentives to a community of “preferred users” who blog about your product or service, you may be liable for any misleading statements made by the blogger
• For customer organizations, if one of your employees receives an evaluation sample and lets say free tickets to a Magic game and the employee evaluates the sample product as one of your employees, you may be liable for any statement (positive or negative) made by the employee.

A best practice guideline is to now treat company-initiated social media and blog posts as official corporate communications. Thus it becomes imperative that all social media marketing activities of an organization come together under one policy.
Thus Social Media, previously unregulated, now is regulated.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Marketing vs Technology

As we move from recession to transition, one of the areas that is changing is the type of market research and analysis that is conducted. It used to be one of the following two major categories:
• Technology driven
• Market driven

Computer and high tech companies are examples of technology driven. These companies based their marketing plans on what was/is the latest technology. Once the technology is replaced, the marketing program becomes unraveled. Product R&D drives the market.
Market driven is driven by market characteristics such as demographics and/or psychographics. Once the demographics change, the marketing approach must also change.

What works for baby-boomers will probably not work for Gen-X or Gen-Y.In the transition world, the most important thing is to address what customers want. The main point to remember is that customers do not really know what they want. What they are really looking for are better ways to solve their problems. The challenge thus becomes being able to understand the customers and their problems in depth. We must continually work on ways of making life easier for our customers. This may occur because of luck or detailed marketing research. The how is less important than the end result.