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That’s Cool! But I Can’t Remember Where I Saw It: Part 4

April 21, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
(The following are opinions of the author. Consult appropriate professional sources in any key business decision).

Yesterday’s Marketing?

When I teach marketing, I often start off by asking the question “What is it anyway?” Responses range from “advertising” to “word of mouth.”

My response used to be that marketing is 99% of what you do and that is a strategy to reach a set of potential customers who may need or want what you have to offer. How you do this I used to say is through a well thought out “marketing mix” of whatever is appropriate to your business such as a web site, radio, print advertising, television, press releases and brochures/fliers, etc.

You do this by telling people who you are, what you are selling and where you are. The theory was that if you did your business plan correctly you determined there was a set of folks who wanted your product or service at the price you were selling it for. You just had to tell them what you had to offer as clearly and concisely as you could to be effective. It was a series of one way communications: you told them what, where, who and why they should buy your product and then you waited for someone to respond. Until they called or stopped by, there was often very little interaction.

Further, your marketing efforts were usually about all the things you needed to do to make the sale with little thought on potential opportunities after they make the purchase.

Changes A-foot (or text):

The world of the internet and the explosion of communication devices and the different methods we use to get information is changing rapidly. It is having a profound effect on what marketing is and how we successfully position ourselves as a community and as a business to attract customers or visitors.

It no longer may be effective to simply tell folks who you are and what you offer. For example, a nice home page that clearly states what you are with well directed sub-pages of the different products or services with great photos was once thought to be key. By itself it may no longer be effective.

If I could hire 2 marketing people for my business, I would first hire a journalist and then call-in the Avon lady.

The book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Scott talks about how “the old rules of marketing and PR are ineffective in an on-line world.” These rules include “messages in advertising are product-focused one-way spin” that relies on “interruption marketing” or getting your potential customers “to stop what they are doing and pay attention to a message.”

As we have talked in the last several weeks about the how the web is transforming the way we use information and how we communicate, Scott refers to the “new marketing as being “centered on interaction, information, education and choice” and not advertisers who try “dumbed-down broadcasts about their wonderful products.”

Get-em While their Hot:

But wait there is more. When someone decides to purchase something or to go on vacation, there is an ever growing wealth, sometimes overwhelming, amount of information. The process of going through this search, gathering of information and what types of information influences you most is creating a great deal of discussion as to when and where you should put your marketing muscle.

Think about the information options my Dad had when we went on vacation. Perhaps he read a magazine about a place, or saw a brochure or heard it from a friend. Look at the sources of information today between traditional media, on-line news, Face-book, Google searches, etc. Yikes!

But, once they make a decision, in the era of information immediate gratification, they want to act – now - and the challenge is to be there when they do.

In a spotlight series in the Harvard Business Review on “Social Media and the New Rules of Branding” in an article “Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places," the author, David C. Edelman, discusses a new approach involving the “consumer decision journey (CDI).”

Here, marketing needs not only to consider the process by which a potential customer or visitor makes their decision to come to your business but also the time after they have used your product or service.

“After purchase, they (consumers) often enter into an open ended relationship with the brand, sharing their experiences with it online.” In today’s social media world, when consumers “are pleased with a purchase, they’ll advocate for it” or if they don’t “they may sever ties with it – or worse.”

Besides telling the who, what, where; your marketing may need to consider “owned media” like your web site, blogs, traditional advertising and “earned media” defined as “customer-created channels, such as communities of brand enthusiasts.”

In “The New Rules of Marketing & PR David Scott talks about “web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the precise moment that a buyer needs it.”

Get Involved with Customer Channels:

Understanding what some of your “customer channels” are may be helpful and may represent further methods “to tell your story.” With so much information out there, in order to stand out, it may be just as important to tell an interesting story and to niche your efforts. In the world of surfing, just telling folks what you do may not be enough. “Great content brands an organization as a trusted resource and calls people to action,” according to Scott.

The Web has brought the world to our small Adirondack communities and even our smaller businesses. The number of people that you can reach across the world is mind boggling and it may be important to get away from a one-size- fits-all and niche your efforts.

Scott talks about the “Web as a place to reach millions of ‘micro-markets’ with precise messages just at the point of consumption…” As we seek to profile our customers “we need to create many different ‘microsites’ – with purpose-built landing pages and just-right content – each aimed at a narrow target constituency” according to Scott.

We may also consider a focus on our expertise and/or tell a story with key words that our customers may use.

The days of the printing press that led to the dawn of mass information and “I think, therefore I am,” perhaps today should be called “I am what I publish.”

One of the goals of the “new marketing” appears to be able to reach a potential customer at just right the moment, engage them in a conversation or get them to participate somehow, and look at them as not just a “sales lead” but as an on-going “advocate” of your product/service.

It seems to be important that your marketing effort stay involved with them after the sale through your information portals as well as - theirs.

What does that mean if anything to how we market ourselves as a community and how we as businesses relate to these efforts? What about the role of traditional marketing organizations like chambers of commerce?

We will look at this next.


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