The turkey leftovers been consigned to the cat, or the bin. The Christmas tree has dropped more needles than you’ll find at a Kurt Cobain tribute concert.
Now it’s time to dig your company’s marketing out of the dark ages and into the 21st Century. Your customers expect it.
Albert Einstein is quoted as once saying the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet that’s exactly what a gazillion small businesses are doing right now with regards to how they approach branding, marketing, sales, lead generation, and communications. If you didn’t make your sales / marketing goals last year, what makes you think that you’re going to make them this year if your plans are to do the same things? A 21st century marketing plan isn’t a “copy-paste” of what you did last year.
Old-School Thinking Brings Old-World Results
Dear business leader, please wake up and smell the arabica. You cannot continue to sell your company’s products or services in ways that Don Draper would applaud. Today’s consumer (and whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customer is always a consumer) is smarter, more knowledgeable, more demanding and more attractive than ever before (OK, maybe I made that last one up).
The internet has put more competitors in front of customer noses than you can wave a stick at. It also means that they already know as much about your company, products, and your competitors than you do. In fact they probably know more. Buyer behavior has changed beyond recognition in just a few years, yet most companies are basing their sales and marketing tactics on assumptions that are half a century old. Organizations still focus on what they sell rather than what the customer is looking to buy.
21st Century marketing applies tools, technologies, and assumptions that are audience-focussed, rather than introspective. Small business owners need to think about being in front of the prospect at the right place, at the right time – delivering the right message, in the right context. The use of technology doesn’t help at this stage. Technology should act as enabler of business strategy. Unfortunately, too often it’s used as a solution to a problem that’s poorly understood.
So shouting about how great your company / product / service is has become about as effective as treating someone with the Ebola virus with a couple of Advil. Traditional display advertising using 1960s thought processes no longer works (if you’re not a national or global consumer brand). Exhibiting at tradeshows doesn’t work (unless you know what you’re doing). Nor does blasting people with direct mail or email campaigns (unless your audience have allowed you to communicate with them).
So, is it all doom and gloom? Were the prophets right about the future? Should we all just pack it in and go home and hide under the kitchen table?
21st Century Marketing Builds Relevance And Reputation
Companies need to accept that, while the reason people buy stuff today is pretty much the same as it’s always been, the way they buy things has changed. The reason companies continue to market their products and services in ways that they always have done, is because of…Fear.
Fear of the unknown. The fear that changing what they’re doing will negatively impact revenue. Well, guess what? Revenue is already suffering with them doing it the old way.
“But we’re doing OK,” I hear them say. “We’re keeping our heads above water which, in this commercial climate, is already an achievement.” To which I’ll contend that unless you’re growing, you’re going backwards.
Unless you’re increasing market share, you’re owning a smaller piece of a shrinking pie. Many companies, especially B2B organizations, have become increasingly reliant on existing customers to maintain sales figures. The problem arises when the pool of existing customers begins to diminish for whatever reason. Whether they get acquired, go under, or leave to buy from someone else, there’s an attrition factor with any business reliant on revenue from existing customers.
Sales from new customers are meant to counteract the attrition. But while selling to new customers is hard, it’s especially hard if you’re trotting-out the same old blah-blah that got existing customers to buy in the first place. Since – by and large – new customer expectations are greater than those of existing ones, adapting marketing and sales processes has to happen sooner or later.
Make it a point to re-evaluate every element of your organization’s customer-facing value with the goal of developing a solid, sustainable revenue capture model that’s crafted for the 21st century customer. 21st Century Marketing doesn’t rely on shouting as its marketing premise, but one built on interaction and dialog.
(And if you need any help getting there, you know who to call – right?)