Platforms are great - Information can be attainable at the snap of a finger, connections can be made with a click of a button. With just a few taps on your phone, you’re transported from one place to another. Swipe right and you get yourself a potential hot date. Platforms, regardless of industries, are everywhere and they have made our life so much easier.
Undoubtedly, platforms are the way to go, but you may have accidentally fallen into the blind spot of this trend. How platforms started has always been a chicken-and-egg model. The number of users and the numbers of businesses on a platform are relative and directly proportional, which means a successful platform will have a high number of both. Before you get excited with the number of users though, think about the number of providers that are similar to you. You are fighting with lots of noise.
“Platforms make it easier for you to be found, but does not guarantee you will be seen.”
Platforms are just like shopping malls that are full of different shops. Despite having a large number of stores in a shopping mall that sells similar items, consumers tend to patronize the ones that they are more familiar with. The same goes for online platforms - Listings that are popular or have better branding stand out more.
While being on a platform gives you the exposure you need, negligence on your own marketing efforts to make sure you are seen or at the top of the consumers’ mind can soon cause you to be buried under rest of the brands.
You lose your personal touch on platforms
Platforms limit access for business owners. Ultimately, you belong under the branding of the platform itself and that will steal your limelight away. You become secondary. You have to follow the platform's branding.
If you want to stand out on a platform that is crowded with various brands, eventually it all boils down to how you present yourself. If you want a lasting impression on your customer’s mind, you have to communicate clearly and consistently. Just picture a few major organisations and you can observe a similar trend among them - They have their own brand identity; Coca-cola with its red and white, Tiffany & Co with its turquoise blue and white, McDonald’s with its iconic yellow and red. Every piece of their communication through their website, social media, shop layout and packaging show their brand identity. With a strong brand identity, they do not have to worry about their position in the marketplaces.
“When packaging is designed, it is important to think about how it will look on the Web” - Valerie Snitz, Manager of Aveda Online, Aveda Corporation
It is more challenging than what you think. Integrating both requires close collaboration between offline and online marketing. This flexibility and customisation is something a platform cannot offer you.
Find the balance in your relationship with the platform and customers
If you are only using one platform to manage your online orders, it’s time to give a second thought about it. Let’s put aside the worst case scenario of the platform crashing resulting in the failure to receive orders. If you are creating a brand that positions itself with a “care” value, an over-reliance on a platform’s simple online ordering solution can dilute your relationship with your customers in the process - you can never be as personal with a third party that restricts your access.
Pick at least two platforms or build your own platform and come up with your own marketing efforts (Facebook, Google and amazing photos) to ensure that your brand awareness is strong. If you are working towards the progress of building a strong brand, consider coming up with a customisable website or pick a white label solution that can give you the autonomy to design accordingly to your brand.
Ultimately, you want people to go “Hey I didn’t know I can get this online!” and not “oh I don’t know if this brand is good. Let’s pick another one”