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While the Caribbean is certainly diverse, marketers can use a variety of tools to reach residents like these (from left) from Barbados, Antigua, Trinidad, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic (top) and Grenada.

Adding flavor

marketin

mix

Simple, cost-effective strategies can helpyou reach the diverse audietices of the region

2 8 Loinniunication World May JLine 2009

by Brevard Nelson
o bow does it taste?" I proudly asked my mom as she sampled my attempt at adhiloo, a Caribbean dish made by blending young spinach leaves, vegetables, berbs and spices. After a long pause, sbe lovingly replied tbat something was still missing. I went through my mental checklist and realized that, even with all the ingredients included, tbe disb just does not taste tbe same without her .secret berbs and spices administered seemingly unscientifically in dashes and pinches. Back at my desk, pondering my freshly cut 2009 budget, I realized that the challenge facing marketing practitioners this year

is no different Irom my trying to replicate Mom's cooking. How do we dififerentiate ourselves in the market by spicing up the mix and measure our success in an environment where we are forced to do more with less? Certainly every situation calls for a unique solution, but tbere are some steps that Caribbean marketers can take to demonstrate a higher return on investment. You still need to get the ba.sic recipe right, but adjusting tbe ingredients to taste and adding tbat secret spice can give you tbe edge. Most marketing professionals for (Caribbean businesses I've spoken to have Identified at least one of the following as goals for 2009, with tbe overall cballenge of finding a costeffective wav to achieve them.

1. Increase return on marketing investment. Many of us have had to build business cases to justify incremental expenditures in some areas or, at the CFOs request, attempt to apply scientific models to calculate ROl and explain variances. Fun! Practitioners have realized that increasing analytic ,sopblstication to capture the right data helps to inform business decisions and can facilitate calculating the return on marketing investment. 2. Generate more quality leads for the pipeline to surpass customer acquisition targets. Some eompanies operating in tbe Caribbean bave already exhausted tbeir organic growth options and are seeking to tap into new markets, T he

A number of entrepreneurs have launched platforms that showcase Caribbean content and solicit user-generated content.

wwwiabccom/cw

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Caribbean nationals are passionate and voca! about many things, and would willingly promote a local brand they believe inif they are asked!

Caribbean diaspora (Caribbean nationals living outside the region) is a niarker that some companies long ro engage because of this group's traditionally higher disposable incomes and greater connectivity. In the current economic environment, however, many Caribbean nationals are repatriating funds because of failing inrcrnational capita] markets. (Companies in financial services, re;il estate and recruitment arc eager to connect with this audience. 3. Tap into social media. The Internet pcneiration rate ol 17.3 percent in the Caribbean a.s a whole may seem anemic compared with the 73.1 percent in North America, but some countries like Antigua (85.8 percent), Barbados {63.8 percent} and lamaica (33.5 percent) present opportunities for communica-

tors. 1 here has .ilso been exponencial growth m Caribbean communities on popular social media platforms. C!!aribbean communicators arc aware of this but are somewhat apprehensive o formalizing a strategy to leverage these coninmniiies, especially to gauge brand awarctiess, test new product ideas or even evaluate brand reputation. However, regional governmeiu.s have committed to developing the information and communication technology sectors to help diversify their economies, which should help increase Internet penetration rates. 4. Focus on customer engagement. We kjiow that it costs more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. But more important, a satished customer is the best ambassador for your brand and the cheapest form of ctistomer acquisition. Additionally, internal stakeholders are important in spreading the word on your behalf, and as stich, communiai tors have identified these groups as important. 5. Take an integrated approach to communication. Iraditional media still play an important role in commtinication in the Caribbean. However, it a company is interested in reaching a group with specific demographic or geographic characteristics (for example, 18- to i'l-year-old male Caribbean nationals living abroad), new media would bring a more cost-effective touch point to the mix,

Cariblogger.com is an aggregate site that allows bloggers from around the Caribbean to post their thoughts.

consider using new media to add flavor in a measurable way, without draining the budget. The Caribbean Web is still nascent, btit there are signs of growth. Some regional media houses have started siphoning content from their traditional TV, press and radio arnis to satisfy the growing appetite for online content. Iwo examples of this convergence arc [.he Jamaka Gleaner^ YouTube channel, which serves up local videos on Its web site, and the recently revamped Irinidad Guardian web site, which cross-poll i naces Its stories with video content from sister TM station CNC3. Most Caribbean web sites have the standard Web 2.0 tools {RSS feeds, podcasts, webcasts, bookmarking or sharing tools, blog links, etc.), allowing content to be more accessible and enabling a viral spread if users wish to share. A number of entrepreneurs have launched platforms that showcase Caribbean content and .solicit tiser-generated content. The Caribbean communities on establisbed social media platforms such as Facebook and Ili'i have grown exponeniiatly, and video-sharing applications are part ol the online diet of the average Caribbean consumer. Blogs now otitnumber (he traditional media web sites in the Caribbean, giving citizens a voice and more power. Sites like blogoria.com and cariblogger .com aggregate blogs and provide a platform upon which C^aribbean bloggers can build. These inlluenccrs are the new catalysts of behavioral change, and the growth in this area cannot be ignored.

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A dash of new media


To achieve these goals, Caribbean communicators should
3 0 ; oniriiunicotion World* May-June 2009

wwwidbc com/cw

Iraditional media are great tor mass communication, but it is often difficult to quantity accual returns on investment tor these channels or to measure the success ot a campaign. In this environment, marketers are looking for easy, cheap and measurable scrategies to achieve cheir goals, and a dash ot new media may just do the trick.

Add water and stir


In stirring new media into the marketing mix, communicators should recalibrate the overall marketing strategy to ensure cliac che combined tactics work synergiscically and more cfFeetivcly. Other complementary, low-cost strategies can be adopted to achieve vour goals, such as: Permission marketing. F.ngaging customers clirough permission marketing opens up new ways to cross-sell and up-scll products and services. In this method, customers are asked to opt in to receive the inFormation, implicitly giving the marketer the right to send targeted ads in the area o interese. Permission marketing h;Ls its own techniques to incre;ise signups and, when used in tandem wich other new-media strategies, can increase returns. Ic tends to be more efficient, since ads are sent only to people who are interested in them. Word of mouth. A comprehensive online word-ot-mouth stratcg)' is probably the mosi cost-efFeccive way to increase brand awareness, build loyalty and uicimacely atfect che bottom line. Caribbean nationals are passionate and vocal about many things, and would willwww iabccom/cw

ingly promote a local brand chey believe init they are asked! Paid advertising. Even with smaller budgets, communicators can teach niche markets through targeted online advertising. Facebook and Google's Adwords allow marketers co run targeted campaigns and allow you to set your maximum budget. Some marketers may also wish to advercise on Caribbeaii-centric sites.

caribbean-airlines.com
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Measuring cups
Ic's import;mt to have a framework set up to measure the success or tailute oF a strategy. As use oFthe Internet evolves, so do measurement models. Simply put: Online marketing ROl = Net benefit derived / Cost of achieving that benefit Suitable "net beneFits" of online marketing invescments mighc be: Improved conversion rate ([sales/ number ot clicksl x I), chat is, the percentage of visitors who have been successfully converted to customers. This metric is easier to calculate with new media, since technology allows us to track a click all the way through to FulFillment. Data captured can be used to cross-sell or up-sell to existing customers ro extend cheir litetime value. Better insight into the people who interact with the brand. Analytical software gives marketers a sharper look at tbe target audience's behavioral patterns, demographics, location and moresomething chat is hiirdcr to discern troni traditional media.
Increased number of signups on the web site, whether ic

IS For a newsletter or just for tiirther communication. These people have given explicit permission to he marketed to. Increased number of unique users/visitors to the web site. Some communicators may have metrics rhar track unique users as part of their scorecards, and new-media strategics can help achieve these. Increased links back to the web site, which increases search engine rankings. A measurement model is only as good as the daca entered, and the onus is on the marketer to capture data accurately. Practitioners can now add che necessary numhirrs co supporc che request tor cnore funds or iistily a shitt co new media. With proper ingredient measurement, the calLiloo can be flavored to taste and enjoyed by all.

The Trinidad Guardian's web site features print stories as well as video content from the newspaper's sister TV station, CNC3.

about the author


Brevard Nelson is a co-founder and vice president of customer acquisition and engagement at Caribbean Ideas Ltd. He is also the vice president of branding and visual communication for lABC/Trinidad and Tobago.

Comn-iunication World Mav-June 2009 3 1