Future Implications

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Humans have been creating with clay as early as 24,000 BC and functional pottery such as vessels for storing food and water has been noted as being present since 10,000 BC. This ability to create plates, bowls, and cups to use, trade, and sell makes ceramics one of the most ancient industries. The core of pottery: sculptural forms, decorative pieces, and functional ware have been re-invented time again. Even how potters have promoted their works, through traditional marketing tactics including word of mouth, trade, pictures, books, galleries, museums, have been consistent and one-sided. Today, digital marketing through a potter website, his or her blog, and social media channels such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, has widened exposure instantaneously and globally as well as a two-way form of communication. With changes in human behavior and technology, the ceramic industry will have move towards future trends such as mobile brand messaging, social media real life integration, and co-creating with brand advocates. These changes will generate financial and physical growth for company brands willing to evolve and participate.

Mobile Brand Messaging

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Just as industrial revolution ignited the forward movement for ceramics with the creation of electricity for safer and faster kiln firings increasing production drastically, the growth of smartphones is driving consumers into the hands of brands. Mobile brand messaging will enable personal interactions between brands and consumers. A new study about retail mobile messaging was released by OtherLevels documenting that messaging frequently, especially through a brand mobile application, can provoke the consumer to engage more with the brand. For instance, a potter can send a message announcing a holiday oriented promotion or offer app features such as list generation, product finder, and real time in stock inventory. By 2017, it is projected that over 50 percent of commerce will be conducted on mobile devices. This will result in the more a brand send messages, the more it will sell. As technology changes, options such as mobile wallet will take brand messaging one step further enabling the consumer to instantly by a product from a push message before he or she arrives at the brand store.

Real Life Integration

In the process of eliminating the gap between “technology” and “life”, social media will launch the opportunity to connect the consumer with the brand seamlessly. As advancements in technology rise, QR codes will Qr-2become more visually product enhanced. This means the QR code could launch product information instantly including features like product history, product reviews, social media friends and family members who have used the product, and suggested related products. This feature could boost brand transparency and consumer trust. BUY IT buttons will become more embedded in social media promotional ads on networks like Facebook. This would allow, for instance, a potter to collect revenue from social media channels, blog, e-commerce store, and mobile messaging.

Co-Creating with Brand Advocates

Co-Creating-Tomorrow

In the ceramics industry, niche markets will excel. In a world where there is a plethora of product to choose from, potters, like brands, will need to stand out from each. By evaluating data from social media tools such as Google Analytics, and listening to consumer chatter with a dashboard monitor like Hootsuite, a brand will embrace co-creation. An example of co-creating is a potter makes a bowl. He or she evaluates keywords, search terms, and other data extracted from Google Analytics to design content to be used to promote the bowl on the social media landscape. Since about 25 percent of all branded search results are user-generated content, listening to and engaging with the consumer develops a partnership directly with the potter to co-create. This user generated content can lead the potter to develop product to fit exactly what the consumer needs, happier buyers, brand loyalty, and the potential of financial growth for the potter.

Ancient Concept

Personalization and brand experience are an ancient concept stemming back to the beginning of the ceramic industry. Traditional marketing strategies have reinvented themselves to a newer, more efficient, and engaging level with social media marketing. The change in human behavior to instantly connect with others and brands and the constant evolution of technology to accommodate consumer needs will allow for brands, like potters, to capitalize on trends including mobile brand messaging, social media real life integration, and co-creating with brand advocates. In the future, with a swipe of a finer across a smartphone, a buy-web-buttonconsumer can connect on the social media landscape, search for a bowl, learn about one he or she likes, press the BUY IT button, pay from his or her mobile wallet, and boast about the purchase on a social network in less time than it took for the potter to make, fire, and package the bowl.

Watch Out for the Mud Sharks

SherrillMudShark

One of my favorite tools to recommend at Christmas time or when a newbie potter comes in to the ceramic store is the Mudshark. Michael Sherrill designed as series of tools called MudTools which he created out of necessity to suit his ceramic needs. For non-potters you might not see the brilliance in this tool name and design or understand the versatility of its tail, nose, and mouth. The tail is used when throwing a pot to trim or create a 45 degree footed angle at the bottom. This part can cut away any waste sitting at the bottom of a pot or on the bat which the pot is being thrown on. The needle, or nose, can be used for trimming the top of a pot. It can be used to make designs on a pot or plate and for the artist to sign their name on the bottom of their handmade piece.  The mouth of the tool can be used to make the rim of a pot, bowl or pitcher. When your done using the tool, the needle nose folds inside and can slip into a pocket, clay bag, or into a tool caddy. Another cool feature like many of the other Sherrill Tools is it comes in six different colors.

Mudtools has gone to great lengths to take their brand social. It was going to be hard bait for Sherrill to get into the ceramic tool market swimming upstream against established companies like Kemper, Dolan, and Chinese Clay Art.  They needed social media to snag consumers with videos and pictures of their tools not just typical word of mouth promotion or traditional marketing strategies. The company wanted to turn tool trollers into loyal buyers.

Demanding a strong social media presence, every page on their website lures the consumer to the social media landscape to support their brand image (Agius, 2015) as seen here:

smmudtools

Michael started out his a social media campaign as his bite indicator on Facebook with pictures of his product. Over the years, Facebook has become his honey hole with a strong following and the launching pad to the other social media networks. He incorporated videos on creating with different Mudtools on YouTube channel and crossed over onto Twitter with tweets of pictures of potters using their favorite Mudtools. Google+ is alongshore of Facebook reiterating special promotions, pictures of their product line, their blog, videos and customer’s working with their tools. Their LinkedIn presence is more lie bank-fishing with a specialized traditional slant of Press Releases emphasizing their support to social and global responsibility. Instagram intertwines their professional and personal side giving a human approach to the company image. Although Michael has a Pinterest account, it is not directly related to MudTools. It is a minnow in the social media marketing strategy at this time.

By uniting product pictures, product how-to videos, and advertising promotions on the social media channels, the Mudtool brand identity has defined its value and the company ideals (Botts, 2014). The success of branding can be seen through consumers endorsing the tools and inviting prospective buyers to use them as well. MudTools consistency and frequency on the social media networks allows for credibility, authenticity, and likability. Capitalizing on the mud aspect of ceramics and the quality of the tools became the neutral buoyancy to sustain the brand. Social media branding keeps Mudtools consumers restocked with the necessary clay studio tools as seen below.

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Mudtools has remained in the uprush of growth by concentrating on increasing Facebook followers, optimizing YouTube videos, and maintaining Instagram attention. They assist consumers in navigating to their website, product pages and social media platforms. Michael spends time interacting on Instagram, Twitter and Google+ with their followers (Hemley, 2014). There is no daily limit on how brand social can make a company and its products. Once a consumer gets bitten by a MudTools brand, it’s hard to forget how great the tools are.

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Resources:

Agius, A. (2015). The 4 Essentials to Building Your Brand on Social Media. Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244677

Botts, S. (2014). Building Identity Loyalty Through Social Media. Thinking With Google. Retrieved from: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/building-identity-through-social-media.html

Hemley, D. (2014). 26 Ways Brands Succeed With Social Media Marketing. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-ways-brands-succeed-social-media-marketing/

Sherrill MudTools Page (n.d.). SherrillMudTools. Instagram. Retrieved from: https://instagram.com/sherrillmudtools/

Mudshark Product Page, (n.d.). Mudshark. Mudtools. Retrieved from: http://www.mudtools.com/product/mudshark/

MudTools Facebook Page, (n.d.). Mudtools. Facebook. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/Mudtools

MudTools Twitter Account, (2013). Mudtools. Twitter. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/Mudtools

Sherrill Studios Page, (n.d.). Michael Sherrill. Pinterest. Retrieved from: https://www.pinterest.com/SherrillStudios/

Using Your MudTools, (n.d.). Do All Demonstration from Michael Sherrill and MudTools. YouTube. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/1GAWTZWY4Z8?list=PLLfY3U1eRSVgNJYEX41VIZNUHgahEu4Lw

White, C. (2011) Branding: How It Works in the Social Media Age [Infographic]. Mashable. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2011/12/15/branding-and-social-media/