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Posh Social Marketing

Tom Muldowney  

Hong Kong-based Tom Muldowney with his Posh Pile brand floor mats
for cars

 
An online search using the words “Posh Pile” and “clean” is likely to turn up a YouTube video showing a man blasting a car mat with a power washer, strong enough to knock barnacles from boat hulls. The carpet fibres survive the onslaught, but the amateur-style video also illustrates how online marketing is replacing slick commercials in a world of increasingly savvy and skeptical shoppers. 

“A lot of people call it ‘Web 2.0’,” explained Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Tom Muldowney. “It’s really a way to connect with your end-users online. And in order to do Web 2.0 well, you must first build a very interactive website.” 

Posh Pile mats are plush automobile carpets that come with sewn edges, genuine rubber backing, and a thick pile – features that distributors say help make the brand live up to its name.   

Posh Pile’s parent company, International Market Access, has years of experience using the Internet to market car waxes and cleaning products for the United States brand Meguiar’s. Now the auto accessories products company is using social media to take Posh Pile to the international market. Just four months after launching its website, Posh Pile attracted more than 59 million impressions through the Google search engine and the Facebook social network. 

Two-Way Street

   
Mr Muldowney admitted he was not first off the starting line to drive sales through the information superhighway. “I’m 52 years old, and I was a late-adopter of anything on the Internet,” recalled Mr Muldowney. “About five years ago, I hired a university intern, who told me about YouTube, which I even didn’t know about at that point.” 

But he was curious enough to invest in a basic camera and computer-editing gear, and it wasn’t long before the company dramatically expanded international sales with a library of videos of more than 200 online clips, viewed by 1.5 million people. 

“I think it works because it’s really the power of the referral,” Mr Muldowney said. “You’re getting people that use your product and appreciate the benefits. When they find something good, they want to tell their friends,” he said, adding that this type of referral is “hard to achieve with traditional media.” 

Posh Pile’s new web-marketing strategy tries to make it easy for customers to provide feedback for other shoppers, or the company itself. That kind of interaction was demonstrated in a video made by a Singapore-based car enthusiast, who wanted the  mats, but couldn’t find a set that fit his new VW Golf. 

Staff of International Market Access spend at least 18 hours per day, seven days a week, building th  

International Market Access staff spend at least 120 hours online each week using social networking sites to build the company's brands

 
After the customer let Posh Pile know about the problem, the company expanded its product line to include a customised mat for that particular model of car – turning a dissatisfied consumer into an enthusiastic salesman. 

“See? This is great, because it comes with the factory fasteners,” said the happy customer in the video showing the product installed in his car. 

Mr Muldowney said companies that want to embrace new marketing tools should be aware that online forums, blogs and Facebook, or video-sharing sites like YouTube and Youku, based on the Chinese mainland, need constant attention. International Market Access spends at least 18 staff-hours per day, seven days per week, building its brands on social networking sites. But he said the results are worth the time. 

Brand recognition  
Catalogues for Posh Pile products drive viewers to online media sites, which have helped build the brand
 
“Web 2.0 is the easiest way to connect with your end-user, and build your business. And when you’re an SME, you’ve got to leverage technology. Because you can never afford enough people and you have two constraints: time and money. Technology leverages both of those.” 

Hong Kong Drives Success

Mr Muldowney added that Hong Kong is well placed to explore the vast potential of Internet marketing on the mainland as consumers there see Hong Kong as a trendsetter in many industries, including auto accessories. He also praised the city’s motivated, largely bilingual workforce and high-speed online infrastructure. “I used to live on a boat in Hong Kong, and eight years ago, my boat already had broadband access. So this is an incredibly connected place that you don’t find anywhere in the world.” 

“I think the web will keep growing. Technology exists right now in people’s cell phones where they can see videos, they can chat online, they can find out about products,” he said. “So in the future, suppliers will be even more connected with end-users. And that will not come exclusively from PCs or laptops. It’s going to come from cell phones and PDAs. We’re doing everything we can to be ready for that trend.”   

Related Links 
Posh Pile

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