Marketing tactics are a continually evolving landscape—particularly since the majority of the world has gotten caught up in the Web. Social Media, alongside public forums with both customer and expert reviews have changed the ways in which people do business. For instance, television producers not only listen to what viewers have to say, some even adjust stories and casts to please people, if enough posters are in agreement.
An abundance of reviews can cause products to be discontinued, businesses to shut down, and political moves to be stopped before ever starting. Though it’s very strange to think of some organisations dancing to the tunes played by average Joes and Josephinas, it’s also quite fascinating. Because as much as the sellers and product makers are listening, they can sometimes not foresee some viral phenomenon that comes around and works for, or against them.
Plus marketing gurus share something with ex-employees with a grudge and even competitors—they all have the same playing field on which to wreak havoc or create habit-forming hits. So what does that mean to everyday consumers trying to navigate between what’s real and what’s just spin? It’s become very important to be discerning about all the so-called information the Web provides.
Selling an Ideal
Remember that marketing in any medium is about selling something, be it a product, an idea, or an emotional investment in a person, place or thing. Will the latest smartphone make you thinner, younger and more carefree? No. It’s okay to occasionally be lured in by all the ploys to get a specific sold—however a habit of compulsive buying can lead to strained finances and a flat full of unneeded items. So especially for tech items and anything more substantial than an impulse buy, try to separate the hype from the actual function of a product. Even if the one with the best ad wins, there will hopefully some logic put into the decision.
Ratings and Reviews
When considering a purchase it just makes sense to look up posts on a product or service. And it’s awesome to get to hear what real people are saying about their experience. However (and here’s where it gets murky) rating and review systems can very easily be skewed. Say an email address is required to post a review—well how difficult is it to get more than one address? Some Websites and forums have decent security measures and safeguards against review tampering but far more others do not.
That means overly positive ratings from one person or a specific group of people can make something like a holiday package look much better than it actually is. Conversely, a disgruntled whomever can provide the same misinformation but in a negative light. Some Web moderators are able to catch multiple posts by the same reviewer by recognising wording patterns and such, but many false reviews do get through.
So it’s best to look at both customer-based and professional reviews by experts in the field. And hopefully they won’t be getting incentives to look favourably on any particular item. Once a trustworthy source is found, bookmark the page and also see who they trust.
Word of mouth is still one of the very best ways to hear about awesome things. When someone loves a product or service and shouts it from the rooftop with no chance of a reward? That’s gold, right there. And the smartest businesses know it. The best part is that what’s required for this scenario is all good because it encourages companies to offer high quality products, value for money, decent customer service, etc.
In return they receive an ever-increasing customer base with brand loyalty and loads of free advertising. So when in doubt, send a public post to friends and friends of friends to ask about a place or product. The opinions will doubtless run the gamut but they will be delivered from a place of honesty, which is very refreshing, indeed.