As a marcoms professional, I often fall into the stereotype of thinking of customers as “targets”, “demographic groups” and “segments”.
Ad men and women are especially prone to this, and an entire discipline – media planning – was hatched with the sole purpose of cornering prospects every which way they go. We want to make sure that our entire arsenal of Weapons of Mass Distraction (also WMD) are trained to hit as many vict….sorry customers as possible.
We spend hours poring over media research data from AC Nielsen, examining media consumption habits and patterns. After buying the most effective placements (“bao chiak” or “sure hit” type), we then develop the most ingenious, eye-catching and out-of-this-world creative concepts and hard hitting copy to ensure that it hits you right smack in the face. If it doesn’t grab you by the bal.. umm.. eyeballs, the battle for market share is lost. Or so it seems.
We interrupt you when you are reading your newspapers, listening to your favourite music on radio, watching a nail-biting movie on television, checking your mailbox (whether snail mail or email) or even gazing emptily at buses, taxis and MRT trains. We interrupt you where you least expect it – in restaurants, shopping centres, coffee shops, even toilets!
After disturbing your peace, we have the cheek to ask you to part with your precious cash for something that you probably won’t want or need!
Is there a better way around this?
I believe there is, and this is what many call Word-Of-Mouth (WOM) or Permission Marketing. It has certainly been around longer than Interruption Marketing, and studies have shown that most people prefer to buy something based on their friend’s or relative’s recommendation. In the States, there is now a new wave of interest in permission marketing, where products and services get carried through by largely personal referrals. Much of these are propagated through blogs, forums, chats, and other social media channels.
Can we do this in Singapore? Certainly, our local context is right for tipping.
With one of the world’s most highly connected citizenry -wireless or wired – there are huge possibilities to leverage on WOM effects that carry through different communities. The challenge is to create a message that is innovative enough to strike a chord (the “Aha!” effect) yet able to connect and resonate with potential customers. The product and service must also lend itself to buzz effects and not be something that is yesterday’s news. Most importantly, you need advocates who willingly put themselves on the line for your product, service or idea.
Sounds like a tall challenge? It is. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any other way out in an overcrowded and saturated market like ours.