BRANDS IN THE DIGITAL SPACE: IT’S TIME TO CHANGE

August 4, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive, NYCA.  gpaek@nyca.com; http://www.nyca.com

The year was 1999.  My neighbor was selling his home.  No realtor, no MLS listing.  Just a sign that read “For Sale By Owner.”  By the end of the day, he received five offers.  All over asking price.  The winning bid by a jogger that just happened to see the sign passing by.  Back then, home sellers sat back for buyers to find them.  In today’s real estate market, it’s the complete opposite.  Home sellers need to find buyers.

Same thing happening with brands and their websites.  Back in 1999, building a web site was pretty much the bullet point for their “Interactive Strategy” slide.  But in today’s digital space, brands need to understand the digital space means more than just a website and online advertising.  Today’s consumers are finding necessary product information in a variety of ways (search, retailer sites, blogs, apps and rich media formats).  

Don’t get me wrong.  Brand still need a web destination.  A home in the digital space.  However, brands also need to venture out and find consumers where they’re consuming their media.  I call this fish where the fish are fishing.

Social media sites are great fishing spots. I hear many brands talk about social media sites and their fear of “diving in” because they’re not sure if a particular social media site will be popular next year.  I always give the analogy of top network TV shows: who knows what next year will bring, but you will always find success placing media in a current hit TV show.  Seinfeld lasted for 9 seasons while The Brady Bunch only lasted 5 seasons.  However, both are considered iconic.  Note: I was under the impression that The Brady Bunch was still filming episodes.bradybunch
In today’s social space, Facebook and Twitter are iconic social platforms that brands can leverage.  But leveraging these platforms the right way is key. It’s not about a destination for your brand, as these platforms are about communications between your brand and its consumer.  Who knows for how long these sites will be mainstays, but what we know is that both destinations are growing.  And probably growing stronger than a particular brands own website.  

eRetail is another untapped fishing spot.  It’s equally as important to leverage eRetail strategies to educate consumers about your products and influence purchase for your brand.  For example, if a consumer is looking for a new food processor to buy (non-search), do you think they will visit Target.com or Sunbeam.com?  Chances are Target.com. Thus, the opportunity for a brand like Sunbeam to develop content specific for Target.com shoppers and feature that content on Target.com (as opposed to driving users to their site) will provide better results in the end.  Results meaning sales.

Brands simply cannot rely on just driving users to their own brand site to find success in the digital space.  Brands can no longer wait for consumers to visit them, instead, brands need to go out and find their consumers.  Just like the Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan and Cindy once sang, it’s “Time to Change.”  http://bit.ly/GdNQe