What a Difference a Decade makes to Marketing
Imagine that you could continue to market successfully the same way for
ten years. Do you like that thought? Well delete that daydream because it just isn’t so. Welcome to marketing
2008. It’s more threatening, more promising and more exciting. Buckle your seatbelt, take your motion sickness
pill and be prepared to be amazing. Because that is what you need to compete today.
Still the Same
Of course some things remained the same. Let’s establish our foundation before we
venture into the swirl of the Time Tunnel.
The fundamentals are the same. That’s what makes them fundamentals. Marketing is
still closely intertwined with selling and the purpose of marketing is to help you sell more. Marketing and
selling are both strategies to help you make a profit. In fact marketing was and is a fundamental
responsibility running through every function of your business.
“Marketing is so basic that it cannot be considered a separate function. It is the
whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the client’s point of
Strange that even though management guru, Peter Drucker, offered that advice more
than a decade ago – many organizations ignored his wisdom. That’s why we still see marketing departments and
sales departments with little cohesion and cooperation. Why? Perhaps too many marketers see themselves as
artists or statisticians while they see sales representatives as slimy. And the sales department labels
marketing as a bunch of flakes who don’t know about the real world.
The purpose of marketing is to do one or more of the following three
- Grab attention
- Demonstrate value
- Build relationships
The world is still round – or is it now flat? How is the “How” of those fundamentals
Grabbing attention has always been a prime concern for marketers. Your message
needed to defeat the noise of all the other marketers.
In 1998, if you had a huge marketing budget, the
place to be was TV and the grand dame was the Super Bowl game at $1.3M for a 30 second spot. Of course ad
production costs were extra. The top three ads that year were for Tabasco,
Pontiac and Doritos. Do you wonder how many Doritos they needed to sell to pay for that ad? Oh yeah, Denver
triumphed over Green Bay.
The Super Bowl is still the place for marketers with multimillion dollar budgets
costing $2.6M for 30 seconds in 2007. But the holy grail of marketing today might more likely be to appear
number one on a Google search. You don’t need millions to triumph.
Value was once demonstrated with celebrity endorsements, quality awards and
longevity in the business.
Today client testimonials carry more weight than celebrities. Quality awards and
certifications are so common that they have become ho-hum. Depending on your industry, a long time in
business could be three years. We’re more interested in the results that you achieved for your recent
clients. If you want to demonstrate value be sure to offer a free trial or money back guarantee – without the
weasel word clauses.
Relationship building is more important today. Prove to your clients why they should
buy from you – every time. Brand loyalty was once given blindly to sellers. Loyalty didn’t die. It shifted.
Loyalty is now bestowed more on our friends and family which is why client testimonials become more
convincing. And why networking is so much more powerful.
Changes and Trends
Some trends have been going on for longer than the past decade – but they are easier
to notice now. We realize that both selling and marketing are more science than art. Sales representatives
are no longer allowed to wing it. Of course both sales and marketing staff were being well trained by
successful companies before 1998. But the integration of these activities is more evident in today’s training
and daily activity. Today you are also more likely to see the large corporations training their sales reps
with marketing skills and integrating marketing folks into the front lines. To be competitive small and
medium business must convert all staff into marketers. And it will take more than a memo!
Technology in the form of computers, software and mobile devices has had a huge
impact on how we market. The tsunami of influence is the Internet which has presented marketers with new
challenges and incredible opportunities.
The proliferation of cell phones and Blackberries mean that clients expect to reach
you anywhere and any time. In order to compete it seems that you need to be more available and respond faster
than your competition. Be careful because that mentality can lead to the worship of instant satisfaction
which results in more mistakes, distracted professionals and grumpy people. Too many are adapting their
process to suit the tool – instead of using tools to improve the process. Warning Will Robinson!
The fifth chapter in Secrets of Power Marketing is about using your database. In
1998 small business had access to PC based contact managers including ACT, Maximizer and Goldmine. Today you
need to build on those fundamentals with a CRM (client relationship manager) system and integrate your data
between your computer, mobile device, email and website forms.
Building Relationships is explained in the second chapter of Secrets of Power
Marketing. Because of our increased emphasis on building relationships networking activity has exploded both
offline and online. We see this in the growth of specialized networking groups and events. Business
Networking International (BNI) a lead sharing group has over 5,000 chapters in 36 countries. Online
enhancements include social networking websites like Facebook.com, MySpace.com and Bebo.com plus the business
oriented service Linkedin.com. For more networking tips visit NetworkingExposed.com.
In 1998 folks were exploring the use of email through internet providers AOL and
CompuServe. Coincidently the number one movie of 1998 was “You’ve Got Mail”. Today not having email would be
like not having a fax machine in 1998. But today it isn’t enough just to have email. You must have an email
address with a professional domain. Using a free email address is acceptable for your personal life – but not
for business. If you are still using Yahoo, MSN, Gmail or AOL for business you are looking amateurish – or
stuck in 1998.
My first website www.Torok.com launched in 1999 when very few small businesses had
websites. In those days you were special if you “had” a website. Websites looked like your printed brochure –
hence the name “brochure sites”.
It is no longer remarkable to have a website. In fact you must have a website and it
must be remarkable just to compete. It’s as necessary as a phone or business card even if you don’t sell on
the Internet. Why? Because clients want to check your site
before they call or visit you. Your website needs to grab them, identify what you sell in the first five
seconds – or they will leave your website. Then you need to engage them, offer them what they seek, do it
quickly and capture their contact information for your database. Read my article “Is your website working
hard enough for you?” originally published in the April 2006 issue of Enterprise magazine. Today the question
is not “Should you have a website?” The question is “How many websites should you have?”
Informing your clients
A decade ago the way to train, educate and inform your clients was to hold seminars
or mail them a printed newsletter. Both still work but are expensive compared to the new alternatives. Today
you might inform them with an opt-in email newsletter, articles and FAQs on your website, posting on your
blog, and holding teleseminars and/or webinars.
Today everyone on the Internet can be a publisher via their own websites, blogs,
article sites and forums. You need to be out-communicating your competition. You might expect your
competition to compete with your message but also watch for damaging exposure from disgruntled clients or
Gathering Market Intelligence is easier for you, your competition and your clients.
You might want to reread that last sentence and think about the implications. Take advantage of the
opportunity. Using search engines you can learn about your competition and their offerings. Use “Google
Alerts” to stay informed of daily mentions on websites, blogs and news sites of your name, your product name,
your industry and your competition. If you are not yet receiving these Google Alerts – you might be missing
news about what others are saying about you and your industry. Go to Google and register for this free
service. Ignorance is no excuse.
Test opinion by visiting groups and forums on major sites such as Google and Yahoo
or on industry websites. Conduct polls on your website or hold a survey with SurveyMonkey.com.
Lots of opportunity here. We still seem to be struggling with customer service. Some
shine while others annoy. I experienced a good example of good customer service today when I bought a coffee
from Starbucks. I ordered my “small regular coffee”. I refuse to speak their language – no ‘tall latté” for
me. The staff still smile at me, deliver what I want and thank me as they give me my change. Compare that to
the hordes of sales staff that seem to expect you to thank them for giving them your money. And they don’t
thank you for your business. So I pay the $1.75 for the Starbucks coffee and feel good because of the
friendly service. I don’t get that consistently from Tim Hortons.
The traditional mass marketing avenues – print, radio, TV and signage are suffering
from a lot of competition from Internet marketing. Take note of how many TV ads attempt to drive viewers to
websites. When you are advertising with those traditional media be sure to enquire about how they will
support you on the web. Get them to republish your ad or listing on their website with a live link to your
website. At a recent presentation I noticed that the front of the lectern not only displayed the name of the
facility but their website address as well. Today any marketing you do must be integrated across the delivery
Don’t give up on the traditional media for your advertising or media exposure.
Chapter three of Secrets of Power Marketing explains how to get and leverage your media exposure. Use Google
Alerts to stay on top of breaking news and media opportunities. A decade ago you could fax or mail your news
release. Today all editors are reachable by email for “letters to the editor” (read “Dear Editor” in the
January 2007 issue of Enterprise) and news releases. Use online new release services. PRBuzz.com is a free
service. Or register with PRLeads.com to be informed of media needs for experts. There is no excuse for you
and your business not to be featured in the media regularly.
There’s a new sheriff in town. As a marketer you better be aware of the biggest
consumer market in the world – Ebay. Every day Ebay transacts over $100 M. Over 730,000 people earn their
primary or secondary income on Ebay. It went public in 1998 and this 10 year old has grown. You can’t ignore
an elephant that big. It might move into your market or perhaps it already has. This is entirely new
territory for marketers – so new that my best advice at this time is to watch it, study it and be prepared to
jump on opportunities. When was the last time you searched Ebay for your product? Or threats to your product,
your market or your clients?
Search Engine Marketing
This is a completely new side to marketing that did not exist a decade ago. If you
want your website to be found by people you must rank high in the search engines – specifically Google, Yahoo
and MSN. The two approaches are pay-per-click and natural listings. Pay-per-click means that you buy a paid
ranking and you pay when someone clicks on your ad. It is a simple way to pay for leads. Or you apply Search
Engine Optimization (SEO) to make your website naturally show up high in the search engines.
As you can see it is an exciting time for marketing. There are both new threats and
opportunities. Are you reviewing your marketing strategy and tactics to better prepare yourself for the year
ahead? Are you equipped to be amazing?
George Torok brings practical insights to business. He is co-author of Secrets of Power
Marketing, the first guide to personal marketing for the non-marketer. As host of Business in Motion he has
interviewed over 400 business leaders. He is available to deliver keynote speeches and business seminars. Contact
him at 905-335-1997 or visit www.Business-Speaker.biz
You can read an excerpt from the book
at www.PowerMarketing.ca. Get
your free Marketing Tune-up at www.MarketingTuneUp.ca.
Marketing expert, George Torok is available for speaking engagements and media interviews at
PS: This article was originally published in the January 2008 10th
anniversary issue of Enterprise Magazine. George Torok was featured on the cover of that special
© George Torok All Rights Reserved
Business Articles by Business Speaker, George Torok