The Power of Social Media

Social media is more than just a tool for socially engaging online with friends and family. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, What’s App, and others, created an opportunity for companies to reach their potential customers on a global basis. The amount of data recorded and analyzed by these platforms’ complex algorithms is sufficient to understand what are the specific interests and needs of each of its users and, therefore, when should these platforms leverage these users to sell spaces on their “screens” to businesses interested in advertising their products. According to the online portal Statista, world online advertising spending in 2018 surpassed the $74 billion mark. Social media is not only a tool for connecting people but also to connect marketers with their desired audience.

The possibility of quickly and affordably reaching potential customers all over the world created a demand for skilled online marketers that understand and know how to leverage the power of social media. The number of online adverting agencies boomed in recent years, and there are even online courses teaching how to create your own social media marketing agency and get your first $1,000/month paying customer. It might seem too good to be true, but if we realize that by creating a simple Facebook Ad to generate leads to your local dentist you could potentially get him a customer who will pay more than that to his service you can see how this could sound reasonable. Social media is disrupting the market as we know it, buy giving us all the means to reach new audiences and get insights to help our online business, agency customers, or the company we work for.

Kevin David’s Social Media Marketing Agency Course

The true power of social media relies on the possibility of influencing your audience. It is not only about advertising to the specific target audience you believe would be interested in your products, for instance. It is more about understanding what is the best possible content you could provide to this audience to influence them to make a purchase, follow your social media business page/account, like your post, etc. We can better understand this when thinking about Instagram influencers. Regardless of being famous celebrities that started their Instagram accounts already getting several followers or unknown people that organically grew up their fan base, these influencers maintain their followers based on the content they regularly post that somehow inspire, motivates or influence them in some way. Similarly, businesses should understand that they need to create a proper strategy for each social media platform and provide content that influences their potential customers. Only after securing a good and desirable content they should show them to their targeted audience.

It is important to understand the power of social media not only as an advertising tool but also as the best platform type to engage with consumers and establish a good and recognizable customer service. Each customer has a “louder voice” on social media, with simple complaints potentially reaching several people both in and out your potential customer base. On the other hand, great customer experiences reported on social media could travel far and fast, generating good publicity for your company. Therefore, great customer relationship is becoming more of an obligation than a differentiation factor in today’s environment.

Social Media: users have louder voice than ever

Concluding, social media gives entrepreneurs, executives, marketers, or any people desiring to sell a product, service or idea, a great opportunity to showcase good content to the right people. To keep up the good work it is also mandatory that these companies provide great customer service and are always trying to retarget their existing user base to extend their customers lifetime value for their business.

Apple – Localizing the Message

Alan Turing and his half eaten apple.

Irrespective of the country that you are in, put the logo of a bitten apple and most people will immediately identify the brand. The two-dimensional outline of a half-eaten apple is synonymous globally with iPhones, MacBooks and technological innovation. Apple Inc. is one of the most well-known and valuable companies in the world and as of 2019, it is also the first company in history to have gained a market capitalization of over $1 trillion.

Apple’s current product line

The company has always consciously kept the branding consistent. Strategizing the brand recognition that comes with the unchanged interface and hardware aesthetics as a strength and leveraging it as a sign of uniqueness. Think Apple and you think a specific look, technology whose ecosystem that you ‘buy’ into instead of buying the product and configuring it your own way like with the other brands. But how does a brand that so consistently sticks to branding, reach the highly fragmented segments of their global markets. This is where Apple does a great job of localizing its message using seemingly simple but effective tweaks in its international market communication. Although Apple’s consistency may be veiled as a one-size-fits-all approach, the company’s localized branding for other countries makes it successful worldwide.

How the same Apple commercial ad is used in different countries.

Two such localization efforts that need to be highlighted are:

Website Communication: Try accessing the Apple website and the first prompt you will receive is to pick the region from where you are accessing the website. Apple offers localized products, marketing info and services to over 100 separate counties around the globe. Further local telephone numbers are presented in the header on every page and live chat options are presented in most languages during the checkout process.

In-store Point of Sales Communication: As of 2018, Apple Inc. was operating 506 retail stores in 25 different countries around the world, including the U.S., where it has retail stores in 44 out of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. Slightly over half of them (272) are in the U.S. Brand Quarterly reports that an Apple VP of retail development said the brand tries to “make sure the store has an inviting appeal that matches its surrounding culture and environment. It’s about ‘getting out into the street’ and feeling what the local feels.” This includes franchising stores with regional partners who have a better understanding of the local market. Eg. Imagine – official Apple retail partners in India.

imagine – Apple premium retail store in Chennai, India
An apple store in the USA

Companies with a major global market usually tend to use social media for most of their Internation market communications. Contrary to this popular trend, Apple. Inc regardless of being a major global business uses very minimal social media communication. The company is almost non-existent on social media, with their twitter account having more than 959,000 followers but zero tweets. By using their personalised market communications, Apple has managed to circumvent the traditional international market communication channels but still reap the benifits of going international.

Red Bull – Marketing with Wings

Red Bull was initially launched as a small Austrian company to sell a product that was inspired from an Asian tonic – all of this at a time when energy drinks was a completely foreign concept to its customers. The company started with some discouraging first reactions and a general belief that there was no demand in the market for such a product (since there was no concept of energy drinks earlier). However looking back today, they succeeded to create a completely new market for their product and 30 years later they also manage to sustain as a major player in the market (with over 40% of the market share). This success is not attributed just to the quality of the drink that they invented but also to their ‘out of the box’ marketing over the years. They clearly marked their primary (18 – 35 years old male and female with an active lifestyle) and secondary audience (35 – 65 years old male and female). Then they focused on marketing not just the ‘energy drink’ product but instead created a brand that embodied a distinct lifestyle and this generated its own audience.

Initial Stage – Guerrilla Marketing

Red Bull went guerilla to put its brand and its cans in the eyes and hands of its most likely drinkers: 18 to 34 years old males and females. This worked in subtle marketing (just enough to be perceived as edgy and grab eyeballs) but did not scream product placement. This helped especially during the initial days when the company was small and could not afford to sink huge amounts into flamboyant market communication channels. They started sampling the drink at college parties, bars, cafes, music festivals etc where their primary audience would hang out. While the company has grown bigger and uses a lot of other market communication channels today, you can still spot Red Bull sampling cans out at events. Recently, I managed to find a couple sampling Red Bull on the Chapman campus a few weeks ago.

Red Bull sampling on Chapman university campus, April 2019

Later Stage – Event Sponsorship and Leadership

Around the early 2010s, Red Bull started concentrating on increasing awareness amongst their secondary audience by sponsoring and leading events that embodied their brand of being active and living life on the edge. this they did by title sponsoring rave festivals and running other high energy events. One of their most successful such events was Red Bull Stratos – where they had Felix Baumgartner jump from the stratosphere, breaking the record for the highest ever jump and becoming the first ever person to break the sound barrier during freefall. This was a huge project and an even greater success story for the company because the athletes involved were in their 40s. By emotional engaging with their primary and secondary audience in one stroke, they further solidified the lifestyle that they tied to their brand and audiences.

Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria prepares to jump from the altitude of 29455 meters during the second manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on July 25, 2012

Throughout their journey, Red Bull has relied less on traditional marketing and used innovative marketing communications channels that were structured to target the global markets that they were entering.

Cryptocurrency for B2B eCommerce Payment

The term “cryptocurrency” refers to the encryption technique which is used to generate the currency and to verify the payments. Cryptocurrency supports “smart” self-executing contracts and used for a wide variety of applications. It uses decentralized technology and also allows anonymous payments. It does not have any physical representation like euros or dollars, and it has no intrinsic value. And the supply of cryptocurrency is not controlled or manipulated by any central bank, financial institution, or government.

In regular B2C or B2B transactions, the payments usually use cash, wire transfer, check, money order, or credit card payment. Governments regulate all of these transactions. It involves the use of one or more intermediaries and is potentially subject to fraud. Cryptocurrency occurred without banks or financial institutions and made using blockchain technology. It exchanges through direct, peer-to-peer transactions that are executed and verified using a distributed algorithm. It is faster than checks, ACH, and wire transfers and is much more secure. It requires fewer players and fees. Currently, more B2C accepting cryptocurrency, however, it has a different situation for B2B e-Commerce. The company such as Microsoft, Newegg, Dish Network, Intuit, Overstock.Com, Subway, Expedia and PayPal already accept cryptocurrency.

The ability to transmit payments globally with more advanced security and eliminate the manipulation by banks or governments makes it an exciting solution for payments. While the majority of the world’s population is unbanked, with just a smartphone, a computer, and an internet connection, people can perform the transaction on an e-commerce website. And it has a considerable benefit in B2B e-Commerce since it can eliminate the risk fraud by making the transactions irreversible without the receiver’s consent. However, there are risks associated with cryptocurrency.

1.    Volatility

Since Bitcoin amount limited to 21 million BTC, it makes the value of Bitcoin and other digital currencies highly volatile. Previously, all governments have the authority to control inflation, employment, and investments. However, it is not with the Bitcoin. It is not affected by any manipulation from the governments. And since the players can enter and leave the market, cryptocurrency value can up and down within seconds.

2.    Government Regulation

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies exist when governments allow their people to use it. Nowadays, no country recognizes cryptocurrency as a substitute for its official currency. In the U.S., the cryptocurrency has known as a money services business, and the government implements tax to the cryptocurrency.  Canada recognizes it as a commodity and treats the transactions as barter. While Russia, Vietnam, Ecuador, and Bolivia are the countries that have banned cryptocurrency payment.

3.    Competing Currencies

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currencies are competing against each other. The government of Iceland has its cryptocurrency.  And another Canada startup, Kik, introducing another currency. While Amazon, in October 2017, it purchased amazonethereum.com, inamazoncryptocurrency.com, and amazoncryptocurrencies.com. It potentially makes other cryptocurrencies to be unavailable in the future.

Even though cryptocurrency has several risks, it has several benefits to become an alternative for B2B payments. Besides security, it has zero banks or governments interference. It could eliminate fraud because it does not involve intermediaries. And it is also faster than the other payment method such as checks, ACH, and wire transfers. 

What You Can Learn From the Profile of a Modern B2B Customer

In order to promote your company and better reach your potential clients, you need to understand who they are. Here are five things that you should learn about a modern B2B customer in order to improve your marketing.

Prefer to do their own research: Almost 90% of all B2B costumers prefer to do their own research nowadays. Information is very easy to be obtained thanks to the Internet and social medias. A company can take advantage of this and be up-front about it by asking the customers what research they have done and what they are looking for exactly.

Prone to be skeptical: B2B prospects are more skeptical than ever. Since they have an easy access to a large amount of information all the time, they are becoming more familiar with their suppliers. Many of them would prefer to make purchases on their own rather than talking with a salesperson. A company should try to build trusting and strong relationships with their clients in order to earn their business.

Have patience before purchase: B2B costumers now take more time before making a purchase. A company should not be pushy when faced with these customers. Instead, it should reach out politely with emails and find out why the customers are being skeptical. Patience and professionalism will let you help you earn your customers’ trust and eventually their business.

Peer Influence: Social media has made it very easy for your customers to compare your brand with your competitors. A company should invest time in building relationships on social media, such as LinkedIn or Instagram. You are more likely to be chosen as a business partner if you have a solid reputation and a good rating online.

Eager for content: B2B customers are eager for information these days. A company can keep an active blog that updates regularly in order to keep the customers’ interest.

How to refine your video marketing to attract B2B customers

Social media marketing has become a key section of the marketing industry. One type of popular social media marketing is video marketing. According to Google, 70% of B2B customers watch videos before they move forward with a purchase. B2B customers are different from B2C costumers. B2B customers don’t make personal decisions and buy on impulse, instead, they make logic decisions that require a good amount of helpful information to form, and video marketing is a perfect tool for them to achieve this goal. Here are a few things a company can consider when it makes a marketing video.

Let the video show results: B2B customers care about how others use a product, but they don’t care much about promises. A company can use case studies to show the customers that their products have already lead to concrete results and improvement in performance.

Social proof: 84% of B2B decisions start with referrals. People are more likely to make a decision when they have seen other people making the same decisions. Even though this method is not always approachable, studies show that media such as video and images can boost your social proof.

Eliminate the salesperson: Most B2B costumers prefer to do their own research in order to avoid interactions with a salesperson because B2B costumers want to get information, not a sales pitch. A company that considers video marketing should keep this concept in mind and show its product or service in actions.

Make your video shareable: 3 out of 4 B2B buyers would talk about a purchase via social media with their peers before they make a decision. If your video is shareable, it is more likely for it to reach a larger pool of potential customers.

Convey emotion: Tell a story in your video that conveys emotions that could potentially alter your customers’ decision-making process. Here’s a great example of this concept:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLHhjcHf0jg

A fresh take: You don’t always need to follow protocols when making a video. You can try to think outside the box and come up with new approaches. For example, your video can be funny, heroic, or simply tells a story.

International Marketing Channels

What is an International Marketing Channel?

An international marketing channel is the channel used in order for a firm to get the message of their product or services to foreign consumers. Because marketing is an interdependent process, this may extend the length of the marketing channel as there may be more intermediaries necessary to accomplish the goal. The manufacturer and consumer of the same product may be in the same country or in different countries, but the same process is otherwise followed through, in terms of marketing. However, there are many more factors to consider when entering an international market.

“International marketing involves coordinating the firm’s marketing activities in more than one nation.”

https://smallbusiness.chron.com/essential-elements-international-marketing-plan-64777.html

Deciding which channel to use on an international scale is a very important decision that must take many factors into consideration. Just as a dometic strategy, a company must choose an international marketing strategy based on which channel will deliver their content in the most suitable fashion. Heavy research should be conducted in order to select the right country or region for your company to expand into. After finding a market that can receive your message well, then marketer’s can focus on how best to deliver the message. The marketer must be clear on the message the company wants to convey, and the obstacles that may impede the delivery of this message.

  • Be aware of the Culture

It is important to be aware of the consumer culture of the market your company is entering. A common misconception in the marketing practice is that the country a company originates is the correct or master way of doing things, therefore they base all their decisions on that way that company operates. Having experts from the chosen market come in and help with the strategy will ensure a more successful delivery of the company’s marketing message. They will be more familiar with things that may offend customers or things that will not translate over well. They will also connect better with the consumers and know how they receive content. It is vital to the success of the message that is it understood the way it was meant and that it actually reaches customers.  

  • Be aware of the Market

Some markets are not as advanced as others, therefore making it a challenge for firm’s to deliver their message in the most suitable way. For example, a less developed country will not do well with email marketing if the Internet or computers are not commonly used or necessary within the market. It is important to consider the market when deciding where to expany a company. Whereas email marketing may work in one market, social media marketing may work better in another. Each region has different norms and behaviors when it comes to marketing messages. It is important to understand the environment wholly before committing a large investment in a chosen strategy.

How to move forward?

Develop a custom marketing strategy

Simply translating one message from language to language is not an effective way of marketing globally. Your efforts in a foreign market must be consistent with the domestic efforts. Customizing a strategy to ensure your company goals and objectives are met is the first step. Questions such as “What is our message? What are we looking to achieve?” should be answered prior to selecting a channel. It is important to keep an open mind about adjusting dometic efforts to make them work internationally. Speak to the needs of people in the market chosen and tailor the message to them.

Cultural dimensions always change, therefore it is important to stay on top of all the markets your company is in or may want to enter. How people receive your content will be the determining factor on if they will purchase it or not. Being culturally aware is a big step in finding the best way to deliver your content to an international audience.

Sources: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/essential-elements-international-marketing-plan-64777.html

https://www.marketing91.com/4-entering-international-market/

https://evobr.com/key-factors-consider-international-marketing/

The Marketing Mix

With the rapidly growing globalization, the distinction between marketing within an organization’s home country and marketing within external markets is disappearing very quickly. Keeping this in mind, organizations are modifying their marketing strategies to meet the challenges of the global marketplace while trying to sustain their competitiveness within home markets.

The four Ps of marketing—product, price, placement, and promotion—are all affected as a company moves through the different phases to become and maintain dominance as a global company.

Global Marketing Mix: Product Plus Promotion

For multinational corporations (MNCs), Product and Promotion is important because it can enable a company to make minor adjustments to a product and its promotion strategy rather than totally revamping it. Coca-Cola is a strong example of this. The product packaging in every country incorporates Coca-Cola’s contour bottle design and signature style in some shape or form. However, the bottle can also include the country’s native language and appear in identical sizes as other beverage bottles or cans in that country’s market.

Before launching, global companies must first define their target markets and determine the products that will be synonymous the most with those consumers and businesses. This research can help to decide —localization versus standardization strategy—as they learn more about the target market’s reciprocity to their goods and services. Promotional tactics for world-wide audiences can range from television commercials to social-media marketing on Facebook or YouTube. It is the job of marketers to create and place promotional efforts in settings where local consumers will be most receptive on those messages. Consumers in each target market have different media habits and preferences, and understanding these behaviors is important for selecting the right promotional mix.

After product research, development, and creation, promotion is important in a global company’s marketing budget. Integrated marketing can significantly increase efficiency and reduce promotional costs, as messages across multiple channels exponentially grows. For organizations that pursue a standardized approach to promoting products and building brands, promotion is the crucial component of the mix that enables a company to send the same message worldwide using relevant, engaging, and cost-effective techniques Ex: Diet-Coke.

Marketers must also be prepared for the challenge of responding to differences in consumer response to marketing mix.

Global Marketing Mix: Promotion

It is virtually impossible for a company to communicate one identical message in a unified voice to global markets unless a company holds the same position against its competition in all markets (e.g., market leader, low cost, etc.).

Global marketer must balance four potentially competing business objectives when developing worldwide advertising: 1) speaking with one voice, 2) developing economies of scale, 3) maximizing local effectiveness of advertisements, and 4) company’s speed of implementation.

To successfully implement these approaches, marketers must ensure that their promotional campaigns take into account how consumer behavior is shaped by internal conditions (e.g., demographics, knowledge, attitude, beliefs) and external influences (e.g., culture, ethnicity, family, lifestyle) in local markets.

Language: Language differences have caused many problems for marketers in designing advertising campaigns and product labels. Consider the British terms “flat” (apartment in U.S. English), “pants” (underwear in U.S. English), and “lift” (elevator in U.S. English). Marketing messaging and materials could easily go wrong if they are not adjusted to fit in-country dialect and usage. Language becomes even more significant if a country’s population speaks several languages. India, with its burgeoning economy, literacy rates can differ widely between men and women too.

Colors: Colors may have different meanings in different cultures. For example, green is a sacred color in the Muslim faith, and it is not considered appropriate for packaging and branding purposes in Middle Eastern countries. Purple is associated with death in some Hispanic nations.

Values: An individual’s values come from his or her education, moral or religious beliefs. For example, Americans place a very high value on material well-being and are much more likely to purchase status symbols than people in India. Chinese consumers highly value the sense of honor, dignity, and pride, and in some situations, they will pay price premiums to “save face” by spending more.

Business norms: The norms of conducting business also vary from one country to the next. In France, for example, wholesalers do not like to promote products Ex: Professor’s Cousin in a cake shop and the bag fiasco/brawl.

Religious beliefs and holidays: In addition to their values, a person’s religious beliefs can affect shopping patterns and products purchased. In the United States and other Christian nations, the Christmas holiday season is a major sales period. In China, the Chinese New Year bring out the shoppers. In India, a string of Hindu festivals including Dussehra and Diwali mark a holiday season that extends over multiple months.

Many other factors, including a country’s political or legal environment, economic status, and technological environment, can impact a brand’s promotional mix.

Global Marketing Mix: Price

Pricing is determined by what a company will receive in exchange for its products. Many pricing considerations in global marketing are similar to domestic marketing. As marketers develop pricing strategy, they should keep the following goals in mind:

Achieve the financial goals of the company and generate profits

Match the marketplace and consumer buying trends

Make it consistent with other elements of the marketing mix, product, promotion and placement

In the global marketing mix, factors that affect pricing include manufacturing cost, distribution channels, marketplace, competition, market conditions, and quality of product.

Pricing considerations become more complicated in the global context when it comes to factors affecting global trade. Multinational companies must operate with different currencies, exchange rates, and interest rates. Pricing needs to account for risk like fluctuations in the value of different currencies in the markets where businesses operate. When the dollar is strong against a foreign currency, for example, imported American goods are more expensive relative to the local competition, so local sales may decrease. When a weak dollar makes product imports more expensive, the final good must carry a higher price tag to cover production costs.

Pricing can be affected by the cost of production (locally or internationally), natural resources (product ingredients or components), and the cost of delivery (e.g., the availability of fuel).

Global marketers must be also prepared to deal with other localized factors affecting pricing. Cultural expectations may dictate what consumers are willing to pay for some products and brands.

Global Marketing Mix: Place (Distribution)

Placement determines the channels used to distribute a product across different countries, taking in factors such as competition and similar brands are being offered to the target market, regardless of its size or visibility, a global brand must adjust its country strategies to take into account placement and distribution in the marketing mix.

Global marketing presents more challenges around distribution, compared to domestic or local marketing. A country’s transportation and economic infrastructure, customs, marketplace conditions, and the competitive landscape can all factor into strategic decisions around distribution.

A global luxury brand would not want to be distributed via a discount chain in the United States. Conversely, low-end shoemakers would likely be ignored by shoppers browsing in an Indian boutique store.

Conclusion

When launching global advertising, public relations, or sales campaigns, global companies test promotional ideas using marketing research systems that provide results comparable across countries. These systems help marketers achieve economies of scale in marketing, since they unravel which messaging or creative elements contribute to a product’s market success.

The same goes with, how to research and understand a target market in domestic settings apply to global settings. Marketing research is essential for marketers to build their understanding of which promotional tactics will be successful in any country or region. Experimentation and trial and error are also good teachers. Once marketers and brand managers discover what works (and what doesn’t) in the promotional mix, they can import this knowledge to inject creative ideas into other markets. Likewise, companies can use this intelligence to modify various elements in their promotional mix that are receiving unfavorable response from global consumers.