The quick answer is: sell more.
We can talk about building brand affinity, loyalty programs, engaging the consumers and all of the other stuff, but if your marketing is not driving sales, it is failed and flawed. Sorry. We can debate the merits of brand building, but without sales, there's not much of a brand. You can sing the same song when it comes to the other critical components that make up a strong marketing mix and a hearty brand ecosystem, but it's all for nothing if it doesn't get consumers coming back for more (and telling everyone they know about it). Just ask Uniqlo, Apple or Trader Joe's.
So, what is your marketing trying to do?
Yesterday, Marketing Charts published a news item titled, Facebook Fan Size May Not Translate to Relationship Quality. Are you shocked? This is the old, "quality vs. quantity" debate that keeps regurgitating itself into the marketing discourse. But, it's still fascinating as many of the more traditional marketing agencies and brands think that "winning" at Facebook is about how many people "like" a brand. According to the article...
"Fan volume does not appear to translate to relationship quality, though, as only 2 of the top 5 brands by fan volume, and less than half of the top 20, appear on the Fathom Research Relationship Quality Index (RQI) as of January 10, 2012. The RQI scores brands on 4 factors with equal weight: number of fans; momentum (based on speed of fan acquisition); fan engagement (based on how often they post on or interact with pages); and emotional quality (how much and how positive emotion is expressed on comments). According to Fathom Research, the top 5 Facebook brand pages, as of January 10, 2012, are YouTube, with a score of 91, followed by Coca-Cola (90), Red Bull (86), Walmart (86), and iTunes (85)."
Who vs. How many?
As Social Media became popular, I engaged in the argument that it's not about how many people your brand connects to (which is the main metric that traditional advertising looks at), but now we can better understand who these people are and what they're really about (wants, desires, level of care). The thinking was fairly basic: ten raving fans are better than blasting thousands of people who could care less, and now these fans are self-identifying themselves in places like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc... Well, my thinking has evolved (dramatically) as Social Media and other digital marketing platforms have begun to take hold. It's not a zero sum game anymore... you can have both. In a Facebook world of 800 million people connected and sharing, you can have both a mass amount of people as well as a better understanding of who they are and what their needs are. Some fans want simple promotions and others might want a much richer type of engagement. This index proves the point: a lot of fans does not equal a lot of engaged fans.
Blasting vs. Touching.
The mistake that the New Media marketers make when looking at news items like this one from Marketing Charts, is that if you don't have engagement (and a deep one), that the brand is doing it wrong. That the brand is simply blasting a message into another media channel that is being used just like every other channel. This point, is true but it doesn't make a blasting technique (versus a touching technique) wrong. It's just a shame because the opportunity could be that much more substantial. As excited as I am about media being divided into passive and active, we're going to also see many brands (and the agencies that serve them) start thinking more seriously about blasting (or broadcasting) strategies tethered with touching (or engagement) strategies.
Built to touch.
The real answer is that brands (at least, the majority of them) are not built to touch. They look at brands like Zappos and marvel at how they serve their consumers (and, while it may not be perfect, it is very human). The digitization and social engagement of everything is changing the very fundamentals of business. As long as we keep pretending that this is simply a marketing initiative, nothing will change. People care about brands and people want to be connected to brands, so if brands want nothing more than people following them so that they can blast a message at them, fine, but there are so many new, interesting and fascinating things that the brand can do to fascinate, capture and care about their consumers. Knowing who those customers are and getting them just a little bit more engaged seems like the ideal place to start.
It begs the questions: what is your Marketing trying to do? What is your business trying to do?