Critical Reflection Essay on Marketing

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During Current Topics in Marketing, Kristof Bossuyt gave an insightful and inspiring guest lecture about building brands in digital media. During this lecture, Mr. Bossuyt explained four pitfalls for marketing managers creating and transforming their brand in the digital age. These pitfalls included: selecting the right channels, believing in viral fairytales, not starting and continuing the conversation, and seeing digital as an add-on to traditional campaigns and offline content. Even though these pitfalls form applicable guidelines for students when pursuing a career in marketing and branding, these should be critically reviewed before being applied. Based on three studies, it can be concluded that the pitfalls presented by Mr. Bossuyt, are accurate in creating digital brands. The theory presented shows the same overall trend of digital instruments becoming fully embedded in marketing strategies. An important takeaway that was present in both the research and Mr. Bossuyt's lecture is that brands should interact and communicate with their audience on a personal level, acting like humans. Brands should pull the attention of consumers, instead of pushing content. On the other hand, the research provides theoretical concepts that explain these managerial takeaways. This is something Mr. Bossuyt didn’t include. In this critical reflection, all four pitfalls will be reviewed based on the presented theory in the different studies.

The first pitfall presented by Mr. Bossuyt was that companies often say they have experience in digital marketing, yet they are only ticking boxes. These companies are present on almost every social medium, yet have no defined strategy on how they will use these channels to reach objectives. According to Mr. Bossuyt, companies should be impactful on the right channels, and do what is most valuable for their brand and audience instead of trying to use every digital channel. According to Hamilton et al., the increasing social media activity of companies is changing the way brands and customers communicate. In addition, with the number of digital platforms increasing, it becomes more important for companies to understand how brand-consumer interactions differ on each digital and offline communication instrument. The study performed by Hamilton et al. shows that consumer motivations for engaging in brand interactions affect the channel on which these interactions take place (Hamilton, Velitchka, & Andrew, 2016). For example, the study has shown that customers with an intent to purchase a product or require customer service activity, are more likely to interact with the brand via offline channels such as face-to-face and over the phone. On the contrary, customers eager to be entertained will look for interactions on social media, which are also being used for timely and time-based interactions. Further, email remains important when it comes to product updates, product launches, and information transfer. This shows that companies shouldn’t bluntly represent their brand on all digital channels. Instead, they must formulate a clear strategy on how they can use these digital media to support their overall objectives, and what the specific purpose of the digital medium will be. The theory presented in this research study is similar to the first recommendation presented by Mr. Bossuyt. Both parties mentioned that companies must be impactful on the right channels, having a clear strategy in mind when using a specific channel. Yet, only Hamilton et al. mentioned the use of offline channels about digital channels, while Mr. Bossuyt stuck to digital media for this part.

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The second pitfall concluded with firms believing their content will be very successful when it is made by a content agency. In reality, they experience low organic and owned reach on digital channels. According to Mr. Bossuyt, these companies should invest in paid and shared media to make their content’s reach go higher and amplify their content to users and non-users, which should be segmented. For social media, organic reach is often based on algorithms. Yet, these algorithms will often base the organic reach of content on the interaction of users with this branded content. Increasing engagement will therefore result in higher reach (Bernazzani, 2018). As mentioned earlier, consumers will engage on different platforms based on their motives for engagement. Companies looking to maximize their reach should therefore be aware of this when creating content for digital channels. In their research, Tafesse et al., argue that the message strategy used in digital content has an impact on the engagement by consumers, and could therefore also influence the overall reach of the content. Their findings concluded that a transformational message strategy results in the highest consumer behavioral engagement. This means that marketers should create emotional, entertaining, and fun content to maximize the behavioral engagement of consumers. Further, there was no significant difference between the informational and interactional message strategies. Yet, complementing the informational and interactional strategy, with the transformational strategy will also result in higher engagement (Tafesse & Wien, 2018).

While Mr. Bossuyt argued that companies should invest in paid distribution to increase the reach of their content, using the right message strategy will influence the engagement of consumers and might result in higher organic reach (depending on the algorithm). Instead of directly looking at increasing paid distribution when organic reach is low, companies should also review the message strategy used in the content they are spreading on their digital channels. For example, spreading informational content won’t typically result in high engagement. Yet, in combination with an emotional, entertaining aspect, engagement and reach might increase. According to the study performed by Hamilton et al., organic reach could be low due to content being published on the wrong channel. As mentioned earlier, different consumer motivations to engage with brands will result in different use of channels. Therefore, companies should review whether their content was published on the right channel when organic reach is low. Taking these factors into account and creating and publishing content accordingly, might increase the organic reach and reduce the need for paid distribution.

According to Mr. Bossuyt, many brands are still broadcasting content, instead of actively conversing with their audience. This results in brands having low response rates and limited interactions with their customers. Mr. Bossuyt explained that companies should create dedicated communities and engage with these communities in a natural, human way. Research performed by Hudson et al. showed that consumers who engage with their favorite brands on social media will have stronger relationships with these brands compared to people who do not interact with their favorite brands using social media. This shows that indeed, companies should focus on interacting with their audience instead of pushing content. Moreover, Mr. Bossuyt explicitly mentioned that people would like to interact with brands that have the same values as them and that they can connect with on a human level. This statement aligns with the conclusion of the research conducted by Hudson et al. They found that social media interactions have a positive effect on the quality of the relationship between brands and consumers. Moreover, the research has shown that when a brand is highly anthropomorphized, meaning a brand shows human values and traits, the effect is even stronger. Yet, having a highly anthropomorphized brand does not guarantee to have a strong relationship with your audience but it can enhance the relationship once a brand starts to interact with its audience online (Hudson, Huang, Roth, & Madden, 2014). As a takeaway, companies should try to communicate as people and interact with their audience like friends. They should use social media as their audience. This takeaway was mentioned by Mr. Bossuyt and presented in the conducted research.

Furthermore, Hudson et al. also researched how the effect of anthropomorphizing a brand and encouraging social media interactions, might result in different rates of behavioral engagement in different cultures. Countries with a culture characterized by higher uncertainty avoidance will find frequent interactions on social media with brands that are highly anthropomorphized, and more valuable. This will result in a better brand-relationship quality. Uncertainty can be reduced when consumers and brands interact more often on social media and therefore are looking for more frequent interaction, yet this reason was not proven by the research. For marketing managers, and Mr. Bossuyt, this implies that brands shouldn’t overload their audience with content, but might also want to consider the cultural characteristics of their audience and the impact of this on their behavior on social media.

Lastly, Mr. Bossuyt presented that many firms still see digital as an add-on to their offline marketing efforts. They create offline content and traditional campaigns and simply translate these to their digital channels. Mr. Bossuyt argued that companies should use the strength of digital and that digital channels should be embedded in the marketing strategy of firms. This can be related to the theory presented in all three different studies. Frequent brand-consumer interactions will lead to a better brand-consumer relationship. Yet, according to Hamilton et al., consumers will interact with brands on different platforms, based on their motives for interaction. When the motive for interaction is entertainment, consumers are more likely to interact with a brand on social media. Looking from the brand’s point of view, a transformational message strategy leads to higher engagement. This research shows that digital should be looked at as a crucial part of a marketing strategy. Bluntly translating to digital channels will result in low engagement and low reach, which is a missed opportunity for companies. Different channels, both digital and offline, should be used for different objectives.

As a conclusion, the four pitfalls for companies presented by Mr. Bossuyt reflect the outcomes of the different studies presented. Yet, while Mr. Bossuyt clearly explained managerial takeaways to the students of the class, the researchers also provided theoretical background and reasons for these takeaways to be relevant. Mr. Bossuyt stated that companies should select the right channels to be impactful for their audience. In addition, Hamilton et al. have shown that different interaction motives might result in the use of different platforms. Also, according to Mr. Bossuyt, companies should invest in paid media to boost their content’s reach. This might be correct in most cases, yet Tafesse et al. showed that different message strategies will result in different rates of engagement and therefore organic reach. The most significant takeaway, which is present in all three research studies, concerns the third pitfall presented by Mr. Bossuyt. Brands should communicate as humans to their audience, using a transformational message strategy to increase brand-consumer interactions. This will lead to a better brand-consumer relationship. Overall, Mr. Bossuyt was very accurate when presenting these pitfalls for companies trying to build their brand on digital channels. The different studies provide meaningful insights that can be useful for both Mr. Bossuyt and other companies that are building a brand in the digital age.

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Critical Reflection Essay on Marketing. (2024, February 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
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