The Social Arena: ‘Boxing’s’ New Ring

Opinion: Today’s subscription-box fan has expanded the network of venues that fuel their awareness

Is your subscription-box marketing strategy ready for primetime?
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I have to admit to all of you that I am a big boxing fan. Since I was a kid, I have always loved the strategy that boxers use inside that small arena to understand their competition and outmaneuver the opponent to gain leverage in each and every bout.

My affinity for the ring has much more to do with the tactics and strategy being exhibited versus the knockout. Battles that are being waged each round often come down to a “decision” on who was able to “out-point” their competitor.

With each bout and following each warrior, there are very few whose careers wind up undefeated. Most fighters lose as many as they win. Each outcome is used to learn more about their craft and the competition. A true boxer is all about the learning process and improving—expanding their skill beyond their comfort zone.

Much has already been written about the emerging and growing “subscription box” distribution channel. In all of the early research, there are very strong indications that the next big fight will take place between subscription-box marketers and their respective marketing strategies.

The table stakes to be credible within this ring are: a unique, defensible and compelling subscription offer, coupled with the grit and infrastructure that allows the company to win in the competitive arena and scale the business to ongoing growth.

It’s clear that success in these “bouts” will be determined by a combination of factors; most notably centered on reaching an audience that is prime for the “fight.” Playing in front of a crowd of the disinterested will most likely not yield the result that allows your company to move up the ranks.

Today’s subscription-box fan has expanded the network of venues that fuel their awareness of what’s available in the marketplace to fill their needs. The market has become packed with a growing number of providers competing in the major consumer categories: beauty, food, apparel, pets, kids and lifestyle.

From all of the early research, it’s readily apparent that Generations X, Y and Z are driving the adoption and preference around the sub-box relationship with brands. It is this generation that is on a tear in terms of finding more efficient and effective ways to connect with brands and services that make their lives “easier” in many respects. The internet promised to save them time and is now delivering a wider array of solutions literally to their front doors.

We have discussed the evolving nature of how this new legion of consumers consumes content and transacts in terms of venue and device. Some in our industry refuse to fight the battle where the battle is being fought and leverage the new tools of the trade. In the early rounds of this battle, they will most definitely take their lumps and potentially be staggered for a time.

The true champion can and will emerge by learning and adopting new strategies to engage with their prospects and do battle. If you aren’t training and building your skill to do battle within the social media arena, you could get knocked out before the bell rings.

While the task may seem daunting, you can learn what you need to in order to be competitive. Here’s a good start.

  • Social media is just an arena: We have a tendency in this marketing industry to bet the ranch on new strategies, tactics and tools, believing that enabling technology platforms will achieve our goals and objectives independently. Social media campaign management is very robust and intuitive in its suite of features and functionality. Technology alone is not the key to leveraging the social media channel. Not every fighter who wears the gloves is guaranteed a sure win. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your social media platform alone can get the job done. You need to be driving the effort and leveraging your real-time learnings around your customer and offering.
  • Observe and watch your competitor: The best way to understand and build your strategy is to fight the competitor in front of you. Watch each and every move that your fellow combatant makes; in this observation, you can understand more about where he or she spends time and money attempting to drive incremental customers and sales. Your initial efforts need to be focused on waging a strategy that makes “like customers” aware that you are in the competitive arena with the other fighter. You are drafting the other company’s efforts and in this way leveling the playing field. Go fight first where he is fighting within the social arena. If you are the smaller contestant, your presence grows based on social media venue’s ability to level the ring.
  • Take your best shot: Understand that the real fight within the social media ring is for the customer. Don’t be distracted by a crowd of onlookers who don’t really matter and/or aren’t really interested. You need to understand the interplay by the community who is engaged within the social media sphere—who are they, what do they like or dislike, what are they speaking about and their preferences and needs. Without this information, you might find your offering on the ropes. No one truly tolerates the rantings of an irrelevant ring fighter. Do your research on your competitors and your potential customers. Take your best and most informed initial shot. You will need to learn within this highly competitive arena how to absorb a blow and then counter.
  • You can recover: Don’t assume that in executing your social media strategy, you aren’t going to get knocked down due to a miscalculation of strategy and/or tactic. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and refine your offering. Make sure that you don’t “mourn” your losses. This is a venue and ring battle, and this is of prime importance for your sub-box strategy. You need to win here. If you get knocked on your heels, regroup and get back to basics. Fight on.
  • Success in this ring is never certain: As indicated earlier, we are at the very early stages of the subscription box strategy. There is still plenty of time for smart “sub-box marketers” to get into the ring and knock off the champion. It will take great skill and discipline to stay on top here. Your social strategy needs to be monitored in real-time in order to ensure that you are truly engaging in the conversations and venues that are critical in building your brand. If you achieve early wins, don’t get complacent. Due to the real-time nature of the social media venue, you must remain diligent and engaged in order to stay on top. Your championship is only secured if you remain ever diligent to combat the other fighters on their way up.
  • Resist the desire to be a “one-punch competitor”: Realize that there are many different channels that play a key role in engaging with prospects and customers for your subscription box offering. The battle for leadership in this arena is being waged within the incentive channel, email, search and mobile venues. The true champion understands the need to be equipped in each of these venues to engage and win. Your prospects continue to make “subscribing and buying decisions” across the full spectrum of rings and venues.

Time for you to lace up the gloves and do battle effectively and efficiently.

Jim Fosina is founder and CEO of full-service subscription-marketing agency Fosina Marketing Group.