The importance of an online presence

Now before you say anything, yes I know it’s been a while since I last wrote. Unfortunately, a little something called exams have kept me fairly occupied as of late, but I’m back now!

Recently I have been looking for a place to agist my future horse, which essentially means that I’ve been looking for a place for my horse to live with facilities for me to use. Now if there’s one thing to know about horse people, it’s that generally, they completely fail when it comes to having an online presence, which is the challenge I met when looking for agistment. That’s not to say that there aren’t some horsey people who know there way around the interwebs, but for the most part, you’re lucky to get a Dreamweaver constructed page last updated in 2007 with comic sans font.

Image

The problem with such a lack of online presence is that a lot of the time people don’t know anything about your company and eliminate it as a prospect. Furthermore, this might carry certain negative connotations, as consumers tend to judge a company by its online personality. I know personally that my first feelings upon viewing a crappy website or abandoned Facebook page aren’t exactly positive.

Without contributing to and responding to the information found online about a particular firm, there is no way to influence it. This is not a particularly new concept, but it amazing the number of entities that have not yet understood this. In the case of a number of agistment companies that I have heard of, when I went online to find out a little more about them, I found no website or Facebook page and only the reports of dissatisfied customers who had taken to forums to voice their negative opinions. Needless to say, I discounted those places fairly quickly, despite the fact that they may be perfectly good facilities with 50 satisfied customers to 1 vocal dissatisfied customer. But alas, with no easy way of ascertaining as such, I will probably never know and find a perfectly good agistment place elsewhere. The only party losing here is the agistment business that has lost me as a customer for failing to have something as simple as a website or Facebook page.

ffoxdown

Establishing a positive online presence can be challenging but it’s not impossible. Above all, it is becoming increasingly more important and should not be overlooked. 

Advertisements

Accommodation price wars?

Last year I spent 5 months in Europe, in the months preceding and following an exchange scholarship in the UK. I had an amazing experience, but by the time I got home I didn’t want to see another hostel, hotel or bnb for a very long time.

The reason for this had very little to do with being homesick or the fact that I was living out of a suitcase (although those things sucked as well), but more to do with the simple fact that I could not handle the ordeal of finding the cheapest, most highly rated accommodation anymore. Being a student, I did not have too much money to spend, so this meant hours spent trawling the net for the best prices. Whether it be hostelbookers,  hostelworld, agoda, booking.comexpedia, or hotels.com, I spent ample time on all of them, always looking for the site that could give me the best price.

Image

I’m not the only person I’ve come across in my travels who does this either. Whilst location and ratings are extremely important, where there is relatively no difference in these, I’ve found that most young travellers will decide completely based on price, sometimes even at the expense of these other factors.

So what effect is this increasingly price-sensitive group having on the accommodations industry? In non-digital days, my mother tells me that people would simply turn up at a hotel, tired and needing a good shower, and within reason, pretty much take whatever they could get. Or if they had pre-booked, they would not be able to compare large volumes of accommodations anywhere near as easily as we can today. Surely with the volume of websites available today, hotels must be suffering. Consumers are able to view and get up to date feedback about pretty much every single place of accommodation in an area and flaws cannot be easily hidden. If a hostel is charging double to a similar hostel down the street, this will not be overlooked for long and the hostel will be forced to lower their prices. Unfortunately, the other hostel may retaliate, starting a price war and driving down the industry’s profits.

Image

So how do businesses manage to stay afloat in such an increasingly transparent world? If they choose not to advertise through these sites, it is likely that they will be disregarded, but if they do advertise, they may get dragged into a spiralling price war. In my own experience, hostels and hotels have fought back by trying to differentiate themselves, through their facilities, their services offered or even their style. However, like most things, points of difference soon become points of parity.

Anyway, what are your thoughts?

Have you had any travel experiences you can relate to? Or do you prefer to book your accommodation without these websites?

Let me know! 🙂

JaiNamite? Okay then, if you say so…

Okay so whilst I’m in the habit of divulging the embarrassing shows I watch, I’ll disclose one more. The X Factor has somehow drawn me in and now I’m spending my Sunday nights waiting for Dami’s latest performance and wishing Jai would just stop singing. Anyway, one of the things that I’ve noticed about the show is their incessant attempts at making certain things trend on Twitter. A performance won’t even have finished and the tag ‘#blingkings’, will be flashing across the screen. Barely a second after the word ‘jaiNamite’ has left Foo’s mouth and up pops the hash tag.

 Image

So is it working? Well in the case of X Factor I would say essentially, not at all. Only 16 people tweeted the word ‘jaiNamite’ and 24 people tweet ‘blingkings’, which is pretty minute when you think about how many people are watching the show. It just screams desperation and seems reminiscent of Gretchen trying to make fetch happen (but way way worse, I mean jaiNamite? Really?).

 Image

X Factor isn’t the only place where people have tried to force trends. Radio shows, magazines and businesses on Instagram have all been guilty of it. Some with more success than others. From my experience it seems that the more successful entities are those that are offering a prize or who don’t force it. People can smell desperation a mile away and I’m sure we’ve all made a snap judgment about the quality of something based on a business’s perceived level of desperation for customers. Has anyone ever avoided one of those pop-up skin care stores, even when they’re just handing you a free sample because we assume there must be something wrong with it or some sort of catch? We’re a fairly contrary species and we don’t want people telling us what to do without our permission.

 

So when do these trend plugs actually work? Like I mentioned above, people generally have no issue tagging something when they have the chance to win something or if they feel like they can get something out of it, but more importantly, consumers seem to be more likely to use a tag if they feel as if the community represented by it has evolved organically. An example of this is Lorna Jane’s famous tagline of “movenourishbelieve” which not only appears on every post, but has been adopted by many individuals in the wider fitness community. In my opinion, the reason for this is because Lorna Jane has kept consistent in their tag and has not actively hassled followers to use it. Lorna Jane fans had the choice to take it or leave it and the company has benefited from a more passive stance.

 Image

So what do you guys think? Have you encountered any horrible attempted trends or have you seen any tags work well, organically or otherwise?

The power of the man (or woman) in the white coat

So I’m not sure if anyone still watches TV, but if you do, you will have seen the insanely annoying ad for Sensodyne Complete Care. In this ad, a professional looking woman appears on screen and slowly explains the science behind this new product in a very calm and clinical way. Her apparent expertise combined with the medical-looking background seems to be telling the viewer that she really knows her dentistry. That is, until her name pops onto the screen followed by the words “marketing manager”.

Image

So why would Sensodyne choose to use a marketing manager in their ads rather than an actual dentist? Are they trying to trick the consumer into perceiving this woman as something more than she is stated to be? Are they relying on a combination of a disengaged consumer and the power held by a professional looking individual in a clinical setting? Or on the other hand, are they aware of consumers dwindling trust in “experts” and instead, trying another tactic to encourage consumers to believe in what their brand is selling them?

Now being marketing students, we all know that it can be the role of a marketing manager to convey information from the company, to the consumer. However, in this case, I believe that it is clear that we are being lead to perceive this woman as some kind of dental expert. Her title is not on screen for long and everything about the ad projects a sense of expertise. It actually took me a fair few viewings of it for me to pick up on anything at all and I’m sure that there are plenty of non-marketing individuals that would not notice anything strange.

So my questions to you guys are:

–          If you’ve seen the ad, have you noticed the word’s “marketing manager” on screen?

–          Why do you think Sensodyne has done this? And..

–          Do you think “experts” still have any influence over consumers?

Exclusive? Yes. Expensive? No.

So if any of you guys have read my last post (I would encourage you all to go read and comment on it here) you may have noticed the photo that accompanied it. In the very corner of that photo was what looked like a glass of wine, but in fact, was the most amazing organic, all natural apple juice I have ever consumed. Now I purchased that juice from a winery in the Yarra Valley called Yering Farm and have since become addicted to it. It was sweet, relatively healthy and the perfect substitute for alcohol, so I headed online to figure out the best way to get some more. You can imagine the despair I felt when I could not find it online, realising that this juice of angels could probably only be bought from the cellar door. Was I crushed? Yes. Was I disappointed? Yes. But was I put off from wanting my juice? A world of no. It actually made me want it more.

 

So all of this got me thinking about the way exclusivity influences consumer desire. It’s a known fact that the luxury goods industry has used this approach for a number of years but how does this fit into the online world? In this case, the product had no online presence and could only be bought in one location. Yering Farm is a winery so clearly, an apple juice is not meant to be their forerunning product. The lack of distribution may not necessarily be a marketing technique, but a practicality of business. However, it is definitely working for them. At $6 a bottle and nowhere else to buy it, I’m sure they get plenty of customers coming through on a winey tour, feeling a little bit generous with their money and stocking up. After all, for people who live out of the Yarra Valley, it is not as if they can just jump on the computer and order more online.

Image

For other companies like Black Milk, who operate solely online, they also use exclusivity to their advantage. However, in this case, it is not a lack of online presence that creates the air of exclusivity, but the lack of infinite products themselves. When a new pair of leggings becomes available to order, anyone who knows Black Milk knows that you haven’t got ample time to hesitate. This rule applies to some pieces more than others, but the availability of products is not infinite. Seeing the picture before your eyes and then clicking through to see ‘out of stock’ is worse than never seeing it at all. Seeing the picture and then clicking through to see ‘limited stock’ is enough to see a consumer typing in their card details when they had previously been just browsing. The idea that someone else might get it before you can be enough to prompt people to buy.

 

Image

 

Now both of these products are not relatively expensive when compared to designer goods, but despite this absence of price premium, the exclusivity has managed to indicate quality. When we see that the dress we want is selling out, we believe that there must be something outstanding about it, if other people feel the same way. When we see that the juice we want is only available at one location, we think to ourselves, “wow, that must be a great juice if they don’t even need to sell it anywhere else!” There are certain connotations that arise from exclusivity, that are not necessarily always based on price.

 

So those are my experiences dealing with exclusive products and I’m wondering if any of you guys have had any similar experiences and if so, what role the online world has played in those experiences?

Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to check out my other posts! 🙂

#fitstagram #fitfam #fitblr #fitspiration #fitspo

So I’ve been sick (again) over the last little while and what is killing me most is that I haven’t been able to get to the gym in over a week. And yes, I know that makes me sound like some crazy, fitness nut, but I just love working out and feeling healthy. So in absence of being able to squeeze in my every other daily workout, I’ve taken to getting my fitness fix elsewhere. “Fitspiration” is a fairly new term that has come into use almost in rebellion to the old, disordered term, “thinspiration”. As the name indicates, fitspiration involves sources of health and fitness inspiration and has been taken up by social media communities such as Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram. At its worst, it consists of glorified eating disorders but at its best, it provides exercise program ideas, recipes, photos of amazing, healthy food, progress photos of real life people and tips about all things health and fitness related.

ImageWhen I’m sick and feeling distant from my passion, it’s encouraging for me to be able to Instagram a photo of my healthy dinner and already have two fitness Instagrams showing their support by liking it within 3 seconds of it being posted. It makes me feel connected and motivated to remain focussed. However, it’s not just independent consumers that have taken to the online fitness movement. Gyms, personal trainers and even fitness clothing brands like Lorna Jane can be found on Instagram, who not only serve consumers by posting health and fitness tips and ideas, but who serve themselves, through advertising their services, facilities and products. It is a much subtler form of marketing and consumers are largely happy to receive it, as they have made the decision to follow the source. I myself have never bought anything from Lorna Jane, but upon following their Instagram account, I’m starting to put my eye on a couple things and not just because of their quality, but because I’m really liking the online personality and sense of community Lorna Jane has fostered.

Lorna jane

I think that the key to a business being accepted as a part of the online fitness world is that they provide additional value and foster a sense of community. Being healthy and fit is all about support, motivation and education, so in providing that, a business may have more of a chance of being accepted.

So do any of you guys head online for health and fitness motivation and tips and if so, what are your thoughts on it?

If you’re not into health and fitness, are you guys a part of any other online communities which include brands or businesses?