I just read an article on LinkedIn Today from Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group, and author of What’s the Future of Business. The article, The Future of Marketing is not about Marketing…It’s about YOU!, is about the state of marketing and communications in the past, present and future.
What really caught my attention is Brian’s observation that many are approaching their marketing efforts through the lens of traditional marketing practices of the past.
What Does This Mean?
This means that we aren’t fully utilizing the new tools we’ve been given to their fullest extent. We are using our “interruption marketing” practices of the past, hoping to shock people into attention because we’ve screamed loud enough. Traditional marketing practices called for us to broadcast our messages often, and in the right places, so that when our potential clients were interested in what we had to offer or, even better, ready to buy, we were there.
That’s not necessarily a 100% flawed philosophy. It is just incomplete in its execution. With the tools we have today, we can do so much better.
Revolution and Evolution?
Many discuss the revolution that is upon us. Brian also discusses the evolution that is taking place, implying that we are not close to the end, haven’t completely figured this out, nor have we found the perfect way to communicate.
I agree that Marketing is evolving to the point that we must now involve our intended audiences in the process and the discussion. We can’t ignore them, nor their ability to react to what we say or do, and we certainly must react to what they have to say and do.
This means, as Brian points out, and with which I concur:
“Instead of inventing, re-inventing or leading, we are stuffing promise into familiarity. We’re broadcasting and not connecting, talking and not listening, calendering not investing, justifying and validating not creating value.
“Value is not boundless. Value [is] in the eye of the beholder and it varies based on the context of the relationship and your desired outcomes. It is relationships after all that form the foundation of business. Marketing and communications are merely enablers for conveying value while also investing in and reinforcing relationships.”
How Do We Get There?
Although it can sometimes appear to be a very confusing process, it might help if we look at it in a linear fashion that matches our clients’ paths to us. Some call this the Sales Funnel, but please don’t get hung up on terminology. Disdain for the word “sales” in the profession is no reason to cut this necessary process short of where it needs to be.
Here’s my interpretation of part of what Brian is saying that might help you apply it in your firm, your practice and for your clients.
Let’s Move Forward, Not Backward.
- It’s time to ramp up our awareness of our clients’ and prospects’ needs when we engage in communication.
- Even though this was done in the past in much more manual, written and spoken ways, we need to dissect the buying cycle, or the decision-making process, our clients go through when they engage their service provider. If we don’t understand it, we need to interview clients to find out what it was that brought them to this place.
- We then need to map out the communication that would provide value to them at every step of that process.
- We should engage in conversation with our clients when they are going through those stages. Be there for them in a positive way, and your chances of being remembered when it comes time to buy should increase. That doesn’t mean broadcasting, but interacting and conversing.
- We need to create content that speaks to each one of those steps. We already know the solutions or the steps we suggest they take. We just need to match what is in our heads, or already sitting in our written files in many cases, with what the client is thinking at each step.
- We then need to appropriately deliver all of this value to them in the right places at the times they need it.
Yes, this Marketing and Communication revolution is definitely also evolutionary.
In Brian’s words, evolutionary marketing…
“…takes a different approach, perspective and a different philosophy otherwise you’re wasting time and opportunity. If you take a moment to think about it, everything is different about what’s taking place now and its direction and future is unwritten. This is your time and consider what a wonderful moment and chance that’s before you.”
A Wonderful Moment, Indeed
As marketers, communicators, business developers, and service providers, there has never been a more exciting time in our lives because we now have new ways to really engage and talk to people and to help provide information and service that is valuable to them during their decision-making process. I also find it exciting because, even though others are developing these new communication platforms, we are the ones who get to help shape the way they are used, to help them evolve, based on needs, practices, and results.
What Do You Think?
Do you see marketing and communications as a revolution and evolution? Do you think there is now more opportunity to provide value and make connections with our clients? I’d love to have you join the discussion.
Special thanks to Brian Solis for inspiring this post. I recommend reading his entire post because I only focused on a sliver of it.
Image via Wikipedia Commons