Power of social marketing

Now, I take a relaxing moment here in Youido. (Youido is Wall Street in Seoul where the Korea Stock Exchange is located.) After long and busy weeks, today is a special treat for my wife (who is in her latter part of pregnancy) and me. I’ve got introduction about Soo Spa from my close friend who works nearby. Its ambiance is quite well-appointed for total relaxation and service staffs are excellent. While my wife gets her mother-to-be treatment, I’m reading a book and also flipping few notes I’ve been working on.

Over the past week, I was delighted to get to hear more about interesting business scheme on social marketing. Growing social media such as Facebook or Twitter and their search for revenue center other than traditional ad. somehow leads us to the next big market trend called “social marketing.” Social marketing and its definition varies. It can be group purchase for super discount, limited inventory release, or coupons distribution. They are already existing methods in the traditional retail industry. Though, difference is how quickly (and cheaply) their promotion gets to potential shoppers’ attention.

We always appreciate people (especially friends) who already have knowledge and experience of using certain items. It can be travel experience, new Jimmy Choo, or restaurant selection. Surprisingly, we often highly rely on people in the range of our social comforts even if they are not real experts. Whether we get cheapest deal or most anticipated product in the market, we have higher trust level on our friends and colleagues and feel like we have same clout with them.

Anyhow, now, marketer and advertiser needs to be smarter than ever. We all know, even articles in the New York Times, whether they are there for strong promotional motif or not. It’s a great opportunity for those who have built social network service as they’ve worked hard to build network of people with close social ties. Getting into social network, living in it, and exposing your value is best way to convert your potential shoppers to paying customers.

p.s. Special thanks for the partner who works at Bonn Angels who introduced Aveda product for my wife. It was a great gift idea! I appreciate it.

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eBook: Sell at right price or sell by piece

I recently flipped over a paperback cover of “the Justice” done by a celebrity lecturer at Harvard, Michael Sandel. Paperback version of the Justice was published by the Penguin Books. It had short back-grounder of the company and the founder, Sir Allen Lane. As noted in the back-grounder, Penguin Books was great entrepreneurial and philanthropic journey of Sir Lane to bring quality books to mass-market at fraction of the price of those sturdy but expensive hard-cover titles.

Sometimes, the books published by Penguin are heavily edited to fit into the format of Penguin’s design guideline or cost structure. Though, books are very appealing as readers can easily get to the point, grab authors’ main idea, and also enjoy original style whether books are classic or post-modern pieces. Though, the biggest attraction of Penguin titles was definitely its low price point, which was only 6 pence when the Penguin published its first title. (Oh, well, now, mid size paper-back from Penguin Books costs 9-10 pounds due to inflation and higher production & distribution costs.) Mass-market have enjoyed quality books at quality price for several decades thanks to Sir Lane’s efforts.

eBooks are very trendy new novelties that are mainly pioneered by Kindle and iPad. Though, due to its pricey pricing policy of single title often ranging avg. 9-something-dollars, it gives a good reason for mass-market not to jump on the wagon right away. eBook is cheaper than paper-back and hard-cover. Though, it does not cost as much as what publisher needs to spend for manufacturing, distribution, and managing inventory. With eBook, authors and readers can be greatly rewarded as there are minimal middlemen in the distribution process. eBook is very environment friendly saving trees cut for paper. eBook does not require complex distribution such as warehouse or inventory cost. eBook is even easier to make worldwide distribution or update release.

Price is really big pain. We respect creative work of authors and their efforts to come up with great master-piece. However, we don’t want to see eBook industry is crippled by publishers’ overwhelming greediness and slow response to mass-market’s increasing demand for eBook titles. Growth of iPod or other portable MP3 players sales is greatly contributed by MP3’s universal standard that can be used by literally all the devices supporting MP3 format. Though, more importantly, what music labels and publishers have come up with in terms of pricing point, that is in the range of so-called micro payment pricing level, music labels have successfully tapped in mass-market and also reduce piracy.

We’d like to see more quality book titles on our fancy eBook devices. Given entry price to buy device will go down soon and also technology such as longer battery or brigher, but less-power consuming display would enhance. Though, we’d like to see more MP3-alike pricing point that makes eBook more accessible and compelling. Paper book publishing will decrease. Trouble faced by Barnes & Noble, a major bookstore chain in the Untied States, could be a good example how paper-based publishing industry will struggle in the near future.

Publishers may enjoy more profitable and manageable business with eBook. Though, in order to make eBook mass-market appeal, you have to sell at right price. If publishers can’t, at least, they can sell by a piece (like chapter by chapter) so that readers can pick and choose what they want. People who want to have whole chapters or tangible books in paper will continue shopping anyways.