How much do the businesses and brands you consume love you?
Popularity is such a fleeting thing - one minute you're interesting the next you're old news.
We're sitting in the new coffee shop overlooking the bay, the old favorite is so yesterday as getting a car spot is a nightmare now the place is so popular with the masses. Last time you went the waitress didn't even know your name (shameful I know)
Word of Mouth
Don't you find that always seems to happen? What makes something initially cool and special creates the word of mouth buzz which in turn reduces risk and increases acceptance for the mainstream masses.
At the moment the cafe owner is milking the proverbial cash cow BUT in a few months or a year competition will likely increase and the mass will fragment or move elsewhere - where's there's profits, low barrier to entry and no sustainable competitive advantage then market saturation will occur (at some point)!
With three new local coffee shops I'm reminded on the tulpengekte - Danish Tulip mania bubble.
Social Media BS
I always find it interesting when online social media helps make a place popular quickly - yet it's also amazing how many businesses either don't engage in the space or equally think it IS the magic answer to their marketing problems. Negative online word of mouth spreads faster than good.
Another one of my favorite cafes is slowly building their business to be a special destination - they aim big - no rapid fame - quality focus.
Anyway, as digital marketers we try and focus on connecting with people that will like, spread, influence and amplify the core messages yet we only have to look at our own personal preferences to understand the marketing challenge - it's like some sort of real-time constantly changing matrix of features, benefits, pro and cons.
An advertising challenge is real time relevance.
Behavioral guru BJ Fogg talks about the activation threshold and the three elements which must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger (When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing). http://www.behaviormodel.org/
I get up and shut the window, the noise from the busy street outside makes it hard listen and concentrate. There's a nice warm sunlight streaming through but now I'm missing the soft ocean breeze that keeps the air alive and fresh - there always seems to be some kind of trade off.
We constantly filter our messages and see what we want to see.
Anne Marie is the Marketing Manager of a small- mid sized business, she's sipping her soy decaff latte "Bloody hell, just when you think you've got a grasp on this social media thing the playing field changes" - she's referring to Google + and telling me she's already hearing how the cool kids are leaving the Facebook party, that they're bored with the everybody you know knowing everything you do scenario, that Facebook was like high school and just a phase they went through, that until now there was no other real option. They've moved on - that their attention and time elsewhere.
"We've invested a lot of energy understanding Facebook and LinkedIn - does this mean it's yet another digital channel we now need to invest, engage in and understand?" she asks.
Yes, your brands, online and offline ("inline") need to be where your most new prospective and current customers are but it's your call on how much investment or resource is allocated and what level of social media engagement you deliver.
Also, social media marketing is not the answer to everyone - it's an element of your sales, customer service and marketing mix. I can't see fans of washing powder having as much passion as Sports teams but you can be creative and produce content that resonates with you audience - that they'll share.
Social media understanding is also maturing - it's less now about the quantity of contacts and more about the quality of the relationships and conversations within the network (Google + Circles). Note: As these circles and conversations are indexed this will influence search engine results. (This is more in tune with the way we already do things offline - ie trusted third party referral).
Technology will get smarter
You see every bit of data, tweet, blog post, comment, photo and video uploaded is already help building your online profile and reputation. (There's even a website and app that calculates what your next tweet will be http://yes.thatcan.be/my/next/tweet/)
Technology will get smarter at delivering more relevant opportunities based upon our real time needs and as choice and competition increases, it's important for businesses to remember that it takes 80% more effort to find a new customer then to service a happy existing one.
The answer, invest in happy customers - the only true sustainable competitve advantages are your brain, attitude and customer love.