Those were the days
Marketing used to be so much easier when the consumer HAD to listen to us! I remember being a kid and only having 4 channels on television, talk about a captive audience! A marketer could reach millions with television then. There were a lot fewer channels of communication for marketers to worry about, the typical consumer probably saw hundreds of marketing messages a day on television, radio, magazines and newspapers. Yesterdays consumers also had to depend on the seller for information, it was a vertical flow of information from the seller to the consumer.The funnel worked pretty well, for example: You could fairly easily run a business just focusing on one marketing channel. A business could advertise on television and just that, or send out a bunch of postcards to generate interest. Awareness would be raised and begin to generate leads that the business could take through the funnel to a sale.
Today is a different world and the old funnel has been turned on it’s head! The internet has changed everything because it has put the consumer in charge. No more does he or she have to depend on the seller for information. There are blogs, review sites, manufactureres and competitors websites and more. Today 70% of consumers research online before they purchase, and you have to pay attention to what they are doing, what they are saying and give them the relevent information that they are asking for! Especially since today, the typical consumer is viewing 3,000 to 5,000 marketing messages a day and only paying attention to ideas that they find relevent to them personally.
You had also better provide excellent customer service. It used to be said that a happy customer told 5 people and an unhappy customer told 20. But these days an unhappy customer can Tweet, Facebook, Blog, YouTube,…the list goes on, so your unhappy customer won’t just tell 20, they can tell 200, or 2000, or more! Just ask United Airlines. Whe Dave Carroll had his expensive Taylor guitar broken by careless baggage handlers, and then was ignored by their customer service. He wrote a song about his experience and posted it on YouTube (You can view it here), the last time I looked it had over 9 million views…ouch!
The New Reality
Today the purchase process can start anywhere, and often begins when the consumer recognizes that they have a problem, need or want. They will then begin to search for answers and options and they have so many places to go! The big question is, will they be able to find you and your solution. It is possible to be there, but today’s marketing is a balance of two kinds of marketing, the first is “PUSH” or “Interruption Marketing”, that’s where you work to put your message in front of the prospect with things like billboards, direct mail, commercials, ads, salespeople, etc. This tends to be our more traditional approach and is still very effective, direct marketing to the consumer still generates a LOT of business. The second “PULL” marketing is where you put information out on the web that “pulls Pokies” the consumer to you when they are looking for information or products you can provide. If you set it up right the two types can begin to feed into each other, your PULL efforts can generate leads to put into traditional PUSH follow up cycles with e-newsletters, direct mail, sales calls, etc. And your PUSH efforts can take a soft sell approach and instead of trying to hard sell a product, encourage people to go to your website, blog or Facebook page to learn more about you and become comfortable with your company or product.Both need to be measured so that they can be constantly optimized and improved. This is also important because every channel may not be for you! You need to find out where your customers are going, and be there with them, sharing information. Here are some tips for integrating your marketing and taking advantage of both PUSH and PULL.
1. You don’t have to do everything at once. Don’t get intimidated by all the options, try to find out where the conversations about what you do are taking place and go there first! Is it blogs? forums? Twitter? Facebook? Pick one or two and begin to establish a presence there.
2. Have an objective in mind for each channel. Don’t just start blah blahing on Twitter…and it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if none of them are prospects. Determine what you will share, for example, many use Twitter to announce new blog entries or interesting links that they find. Some may use it to share timely information, a bakery could Tweet about what just came out of the ovens and is hot and fresh, a restaurant might Tweet their daily special. It needs to be somthing your followers/customers are interested in.
3. Be consistent. If you go for a couple of weeks and then stop…and then start…you will not get any benefit from your efforts. Try to establish a pattern and look for 3rd party apps that can help you be more effective.
4. Content is the most important part. Information is what makes your PULL marketing work, and honestly, your PUSH marketing too. You have to give the consumer a reason to pay attention and to trust you as a source. Garbage In will give you Garbage Out. ALL of your marketing efforts need to be carefully planned around your target consumers, or they will be ignored!
5- Don’t spend too much time on the Social Networking stuff! I know people that sit on Facebook or Twitter half to all of the day and think they are being productive, do they have any sales to show for it…generally no. I can only hope that my competitors are doing that, because while they are, I will be visiting and talking to and taking their customers. Budget your time, if you really set realistic objectives for each part of your program, you won’t get bogged down.
6- Keep learning. Keep changing. This downturn we are in has changed the face of every business I know, and it is the ones that keep looking for ways to be better that are not just surviving, but doing well. It can be hard work, but it’s rewarding. If you’re not up to it, Walmart my still be looking for some greeters.