To some, marketing and selling are ‘dirty’ words — a result of decades of interrupting people with poorly targeted messages.
The sun is setting on the glory days of mass advertising and fast-talking salespeople. Instead of short-term quarterly targets, focus is shifting to developing long-term business relationships.
I like the definition of marketing as a value exchange.
To my mind marketing starts as a precursor to any product or service idea — by understanding needs and wants. I spent time in software product marketing and I would say that it is when a product fails to meet the market needs that the traditional role of selling comes to the fore. Even though a product might not fulfill its intended purpose, the quarterly numbers still have to be met somehow.
The ‘new’ breed of marketing attempts to get it right from the outset. Apple is said to do great marketing, but it executes par excellence on products that exceed the needs and wants of its audience.
Countless studies have proven that advertising works. But it interrupts people. It is one way of communicating offerings … but not the only way.
As Tony Blair discovered in the 90’s with ‘New Labour’, there is a third way. For marketers, it’s Content Centricity.
Instead of being hunter gatherers, marketers could be more like flowers are to bees. We could help people find us, gather our content and share its value in their social circles.
That’s what good inbound marketing does today. The new emphasis is on building profitable relationships by engaging in two-way problem-solving dialogue.
We hear much today of the ‘customer journey’. In the old days, marketers and salespeople would try to direct us along their journey—a journey that some might call ‘up the garden path’. The seller used to have the upper hand because of imperfect information—sellers had access to information that buyers did not.
The proliferation of information online today means that consumers and businesses are ‘self-directing’ the first two thirds of the customer journey. There is more information parity than at any other time in history. Often a prospect will know more than the salesperson.
Ever been into a store and interrupted by a salesperson who knows less than you do about the very thing you’re looking for? In short, we do our homework. We research products, we ask friends for their opinions, we read a variety of customer reviews. We are well informed by the time it comes round to talk to anyone in a sales capacity.
Content Marketing aims to help that ‘information gathering’ process. If you can’t best ‘em, join ‘em. When executed well, a firm can serve up content that is aligned with the customer journey. More detailed and more specific content can be provided as the customer moves further toward a buying decision.
Storytelling is a component of marketing that helps communicate intended messages in a more engaging and satisfying way. We love stories. They are in our DNA and we’ve been listening to them since childhood. What better way to communicate the values, mission and vision of a firm than a story.
Marketing 2.0 is about helping people find our business, nurturing the relationship through content and stories, and fostering social sharing that spreads the word.
The word we want customers to share is value.