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Brand Perception & the New 4 P's of Marketing by Constantine Roussos
Brand Perception and the New 4 P’s of Marketing
I was invited to speak at the CMJ 2010 Music Conference and Festival on panel named “How to Turn your Fanbase into a Movement.” It was quite a challenging topic of discussion because starting a movement goes beyond building a sustainable fanbase. It entails creating, sustaining and growing a passionate fanbase to a critical mass of followers that stood for a unified, central purpose. Can artists create a similar snowball effect that would turn their fanbase into a movement that powered their brand?
The answer is yes. The common theme that differentiates superstar artists from others is their brand identity and that their brand image stands for something that transcends beyond music. It resonates strong in the minds of their fans to a degree that any affiliation with the artist gives them a sense of status positioning in the eyes of society. The culture of the artist and what the artist represents becomes a symbol of something bigger. The artist is seen as a leader that embodies what their fans are passionate about and want to be associated with. Maslow’s theory on self-actualization reflects the tendency of people fulfilling their status, their prestige and the last pillar that defines what people want to become or want to become a part of.
Technology and social media have changed the way people interact as well as have changed the dynamics of how companies sell their products or services. The Internet has made distribution truly global and communication instantaneous. News travel within seconds making today’s newspapers yesterday’s news. Branding, credibility, trust and authenticity have become the new currency of the Internet that affects business in the offline world. From restaurant, hotel, movie ratings to price comparisons in shopping, the consumer has changed the dynamics of bargaining power. It is the greatest time to be a consumer. People can now directly influence the success or failure of products in a short amount of time. The traditional word-of-mouth has become global word-of-mouth. The effect on brands can be either extremely positive or negative depending on the perception of consumers.
This is why it is imperative that today’s brands are focused on constant communication, engagement and interaction with their fans. Constant two-way feedback would help brands not only create superior products or services but build long-term relationships with consumers. This increases brand equity and loyalty, which ultimately positively impacts the bottom line and the competitive edge and sustainability of the brand.
The Traditional 4 P’s of Marketing
In this new era of lower consumer attention span and ever-increasing bombardment of advertising messages, the traditional 4 P’s of marketing (Product, Pricing, Placement, Promotion) are not sufficient enough for modern marketers facing the challenges of over-saturated markets such as the music industry.
Even a scarce product, let us say an exceptional song, needs momentum to rise above the noise. Merely turning up the volume does not cut it. Paying more money on advertising does not guarantee success, especially in this new fragmented world we live in. The old gatekeepers of the media have diminished in influence, shifting the balance of power to a new wave of influencers such as bloggers, online publications and niche communities. Even digital radio, such as Pandora, is competing head-to-head with terrestrial radio. Traditional radio has been losing its long-held marketing power to turn artists into superstars because music listeners are now consuming music differently: mobile devices, Internet radio and using other recommendation services.
An artist’s product pricing structure is not as effective as the past. At the height of the CD-era, buying a CD at $9.99 could have translated into greater volume sales. Today, even lowering the CD price to $5 would not have such a dramatic influence given that digital MP3 version of songs can now be freely accessed over the Internet. Piracy is rampant and basing your living on recorded sales is a recipe for success because there is simply too much competition and it is quite difficult to sell $0.99 songs at a volume where artists can enjoy a living. At any other markets, selling 1000 products would be a success.
Placement is another area that artists are all positioned at the same level. Internet distribution is free. Distribution on digital stores such as iTunes or Amazon MP3 is easy to get by signing up to a digital aggregator such as CD Baby, the Orchard, IODA, Ingrooves or Tunecore. There is no differentiating factor in the Internet distribution channel that would set apart hundreds of thousands of artists that are competing against each other. Even getting in physical stores does not guarantee success because music could be downloaded for free online without paying a cent or driving to a retail store.
Promotion, the last element of the traditional 4 P’s of marketing, is probably the most expensive “P” of them all. Given the fragmentation of the media, the traditional outlets of TV, newspapers, magazines, or radio are not sufficient enough anymore to build superstar artists. The glory days of MTV are over. The new stage of promotion does not entail spending millions of dollars of advertising, but engaging with prospective fans and using the power of crowd influence, word of mouth and viral marketing to give you a shot at success. Merely grabbing the attention of consumers is not good enough. Establishing a meaningful connection as well as giving them something that they want to fulfill their own needs is of essence. It is not about you. It is all about them and their self-actualization.
The New 4 P’s of Marketing
The new 4 P’s of Marketing are consistent with today’s culture and coupled with the traditional 4 P’s can be highly effective, creating a fanbase and turning it into a movement that can translate into a successful business.
Before embarking into any business or creating a product it is imperative that it is clearly understood what the purpose is. There is no leadership with no purpose and no strategy without a clearly defined objective. Your purpose must be aligned with the image that you want to portray and be consistent with what you stand for. A movement can only be created if people can share the vision and can relate to the purpose of what you are trying to accomplish. The tactics undertaken should be consistent and aligned with the overall strategy of the purpose of your movement. You can not lead blindly without a purpose. Purpose fuels movements and word-of-mouth viral marketing.
Passion is an integral element of success. Without passion, you lose authenticity and credibility. Passion in business is something you would otherwise do for free. Others can see through your passion and it can be virally transmitted to your fans. If you do not have passion about what you do, why would your fans?
Perseverance is a key to sustaining a competitive edge or even learning from failure. Each failed experiment is a lesson that can be used to build upon your product. Take constructive criticism seriously and if you see a pattern of similar responses by others, make an effort to address the issue. Do not quit if you are ever rejected. Change your game plan to adapt with the ever-changing environment and continuously work on improving every facet of your craft. Experts did not become experts overnight, so why would you expect to become an overnight success. Just because you can play an instrument or can write a song does not mean that you are entitled to superstardom. It takes years of practice (10,000 hours of practice to be exact, if you follow Malcolm Gladwell’s Outlier’s theory) to master your craft. There is no fast-track to success. Perseverance and a continuous drive to learn and grow in experience is a vital ingredient to success. Winning the lottery is almost impossible, but positioning yourself in places that increase the odds of your success is attainable.
People are what make social media and the snowball effect a reality. Finding fans and then turning them into a movement supporting your cause in an evangelical manner requires a strong team. The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) methodology of business for artists is a myth. It only brings about below-average results and one hit wonders. If you are in a band, each band member is a part of your team. Each member adds to the overall equation and can contribute in a positive manner. Even going to the studio requires a competent engineer as well as a creative producer whose role is to help the artist maximize their creative output into the songs recorded. Managers, accountants, promoters and agents are other people that contribute to the overall success of the artist.
While your internal team is the stepping stone of success, it is important that your external team - your fans - are strong followers to your cause and music. This is how competent street teams of people are developed and music listeners spread your music like wildfire. Even if they download illegal, free MP3s of your songs, it should be considered an honor that you were worthy of their time. Now it is your responsibility to make best of the new relationship you created and sell them something personalized, experiential, exclusive or scarce that would enhance their status and life. Now pricing should not matter as much and you can charge a premium for it.
Both the traditional 4 P’s of marketing (product, pricing, placement, promotion) and the Roussos new 4 P’s of marketing (purpose, passion, perseverance, people) are within the boundaries of your control and together they can snowball into a movement that fuels your brand and what you stand for.
The combination of the 8 P’s create the consumer perception of your brand and what it represents. Positioning your brand in the minds of consumers is of great essence but it is an element that you can not control since different consumers perceive brands differently. The key to creating a successful movement is targeting the audience that would be most receptive to what you stand for, so they could easily associate themselves with your brand identity. The new 4 P’s of marketing can help you rise above the chaotic noise of oversaturation of similar products and be the differentiating factor that could help you grow your fanbase, sustain it and nurture it into something meaningful that resonates deep into the minds of your fans. You can set the stage using the traditional 4 P’s and orchestrate your movement with the new 4 P’s of marketing. Perception is everything. Now go out and start your movement.
Article is based on the Book:
“Brand Perception & the New 4 P’s of Marketing” by Constantine Roussos
Release Date: March 2011
If you are interested in the book, please let me know below and will keep you posted:
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