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How much can digital & social alone really grow your business?

This is a brilliantly well written article in the FT by freelance strategist Ian Leslie about the increasingly common heresy questioning the actual effectiveness of digital and social media as total replacements for conventional approaches.

As with many uprisings this one was triggered by a book: How Brands Grow (OUP, 2010) by Professor Byron Sharp, of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia. It asks penetrating questions on how effective digital and social media are in actually growing a brand. The basic tenets are:

1 these media are great at reaching loyal customers

2 you will get little growth out of these customers as most of your business comes from customers of other brands who occasionally buy your brand

As a case in point he uses Pepsi’s ill fated cessation of TV advertising in order to focus entirely on digital and social efforts in 2010. They lost 5% market share –  a colossal amount. They rapidly came back to TV.

The book is devoid of “airy assertations” but is packed with examples and evidence. I’m definitely buying it.

The fundamental mantra is get noticed, be memorable. The key is to understand what it is that triggers us to notice particular things around us, and how that is recalled at particular points.


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