Earth is flat and exists at the centre of our Galaxy…
If someone taught you this in school hundreds of years ago, no one would bat an eye. However, if this was taught today, our smartphones would prove them wrong before the chalk hit the floor.
The four ‘P’s of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, Place) is one of the oldest marketing theories still enforced. It hasn’t faded from our textbooks and acts as the foundation for many marketing plans. Is it wrong? Not necessarily. Is it due to be updated? Absolutely.
As a newer concept, influencer marketing doesn’t fit the traditional marketing mould. With the emergence of social communities there are more factors than ever to consider when evaluating a brand’s ability to sell their product or service.
To keep things simple, I’ve combined old school with new school. Discover the keys to developing a new-age marketing plan. Introducing:
The Four ‘A’s of Influencer Marketing:
Product vs. Answer
Product: A tangible good or intangible service that fulfills a need or want of consumers.
Answer: Why do people buy products? To solve a problem or fulfill a need. Simply put, a product is nothing unless it’s an answer to a consumer’s problem. If you think about it, you don’t buy a car, you buy a way of getting from point A to point B. A campaign’s purpose is to prove that one answer is better than the answer of competitors.
A product fulfills a need or want, but what is that to marketers? At times, advertisers have failed by trying to sell features rather than the solutions that the good or service offers. With content and influencer marketing taking the industry head-on, there is confusion over what that product really is. Why is this so?
Content is the medium for engaging with consumers, and when delivered via an influencer campaign, the content aligns with both the needs and wants of the consumer and the brand. So from this perspective, the content itself is the answer.
A brand will engage in influencer marketing if it can increase profit or revenue. Theoretically, the brand’s good or service doesn’t matter. It’s the content that is used to target, attract, and retain customers that is important. An influencer campaign will be deemed successful if the good or service is shown through content as being the answer to a real problem.
If you spilled red wine on your carpet and used the tips a homecare blog taught you on how to clean it up, the content would be the answer to your problem. You wouldn’t have known what to do otherwise, and whether the blogger suggests Brand A’s product or Brand B’s, it doesn’t matter if the problem is solved.
Sometimes the solution lies outside the framework of the traditional marketing mix. Instead of bending the word product to mean the same as answer, we should think outside the textbook and consider the content as an opportunity to show off the solution over the feature.
Product vs. Agreement
An established value assigned to a product for the purpose of an exchange.
Have you ever wanted something but thought the price was higher than you were willing to pay? Most of us have and that’s just an unavoidable factor of capitalism. While quid pro quo won’t get you anywhere when purchasing a computer, it’s the backbone of influencer marketing.
Consider your relationship with the medium. Unlike buying ad space or airtime, influencer marketing establishes a relationship for content creation. A product is traditionally sold for a predetermined price. But with influencer marketing, the exchange is intended to create some type of positive ROI for both sides. To ensure a campaign is successful, the exchange must be treated as a partnership. Both the brand and the influencer must work together to ensure the integrity of both the content and the good/service remains uncompromised. While money may change hands, the mutual benefit does not fit the traditional “price” of the marketing mix.
An “agreement” on the other hand, explains that both sides of an exchange are satisfied with the return they are receiving. The agreement may not be to exchange money, but could be to supply products for reviews, hotel accommodation for event exposure, or to mutually increase the awareness for both the brand and the influencer.
Product vs. Awareness
The delivery of marketing messages to target consumers.
Do you ever skip commercials on TV or press “Skip Ad” on YouTube? I certainly do. And as a result, I’ve missed the targeted promotional efforts by brands. It may have been for something I would’ve loved, but I never became aware of it.
Promotion is a necessary aspect of marketing, but can only yield results if the targeted consumers are actually reached. Awareness is what promotion is created for. Awareness is the difference between a message sent, and a message received.
The goal of promotion and awareness is to inspire a certain action from consumers. As described through the name, an influencer has influence to generate awareness that inspires action. Sponsored posts and unnatural product endorsements are weak forms of promotion that all consumers can see through, especially Millennials. Awareness shifts the focus away from pushy promotions to the more suggestive word-of-mouth approach. With family and friend recommendations as the number one trusted source for buying decisions, and online reviews as the number two, influencer generated awareness is able to cover more than promotion can account for.
Product vs. Audience
The point of access for a consumer to acquire a good or service.
Do you enjoy ice cream? Most people do and I apologize to those with lactose intolerance, but it’s delicious. In theory, an ice cream company could target everyone. Ice cream trucks are a proven success, but there’s a reason they don’t roam Manhattan on December mornings. Not only would the traffic and cold weather hurt business, the clientele isn’t going to be influenced by a loud and colourful truck driving down the street.
When? Where? Who? These questions remain unresolved through our first three ‘A’s. In order for a campaign to be successful, there must be an audience to absorb an influencer’s content. When a brand selects an influencer to work with, the location, demographics, and overall identity of that influencer’s audience is analyzed. The location is important, but can be useless if timing and the type of consumer is ignored. All three rely on each other and not just the ‘When’ and ‘Where.’
The ‘Who’ matters as much if not more than the ‘When’ and ‘Where.’ An audience encompasses the current and potential consumers a brand could be trying to reach.
Cereal boxes are located on top shelves in grocery stores because they’re lightweight. On a strategic note, you may have noticed that cereal box characters are always staring down. This is so children will feel connected to the fun tiger or goofy triplets on the box. Is this just clever placement? I like cereal but don’t feel compelled to buy a certain brand based on the cover cartoon. That’s because I’m not the audience that needs to be persuaded. Cereal is strategically placed where it is to accommodate a certain audience. The place adjusts to suit the audience, not the other way around.
Whether you choose to stick to the old school marketing mix of four ‘P’s, or adopt the four ‘A’s is entirely up to you. What matters is that you know not every type of marketing fits traditional theory, and that nothing we’ve been taught is written in stone.
Which marketing mix works best for you? Are there any other dated theories you think need refreshing?