Brave New World

4 Jul

You would have to be blind to miss it but marketing is in the midst of a revolution.  Social media and technology are disrupting all the old norms.  The times they are (oh so rapidly) changing.

Even so, it seems that some marketers are stuck holding on to the past, afraid to let go of the safety rail.  Maybe a few are riding it out before they cash in their chips because the notion of having to relearn everything is scary but what about those of us who are left?  If everybody is online and is able to find what they need, do we even need marketers anymore?  This is the type of question we absolutely have to be asking.

Still others are so impatient to usher in a new era that they don’t see the cliff on the horizon, working diligently to push things forward – up and onwards, always grow.  Bubbles?  They’ll never hurt us!  But really, how does your Facebook page increase sales?

New mediums to reach the customer are exciting and have profound implications for the relationships we have with brands but that’s no reason to lose your head.  Think about what you want to accomplish first.  Like anything else, social media is a tool – formidable when used properly, harmful if not.

And yes – we still need marketers.  In fact we need true marketers more than ever.  As an industry, we now have a remarkable capability to form meaningful relationships with our customers.  Two-way dialogue is finally possible.  We have the ability to foster and lead communities of incredible devotees; our customers can express their individuality and entrepreneurs can succeed despite geographic boundaries.

So here’s some advice from a plugged-in (traditionally hard to reach) Generation Y individual to future-proof your marketing:

  • Solve your customer’s problems.  Surprise them with how far you will go to serve their needs.  Be unabashedly steadfast in this regard.  Get out of the ‘quarterly reporting’ mindset and step away from your own challenges and problems for a minute to think about helping other people – or even better, the world.
    Make people’s lives easier – not more complicated.  Do it because you can.  Do it because it’s fun.  Do it because it’s the right thing.  Do it because you’ll be rewarded by fanatically loyal followers.
  • Treat your customers as though they were valued partners.
    Newsflash: They are.  This reaches even further than simply treating your current customers right – you need to regard everybody you deal with as deserving dignity and respect.  Approaching people like humans will go a long ways towards building brand equity and establishing trust.
    And if you don’t believe it, remember that your non-customers have a voice online too.
  • Remember the golden rule.  Put yourself in the shoes of your customer; how would you react to obnoxious advertising?  Always add value.  Always.
  • Value privacy, especially as it becomes more accepted not to.  In the long run, your customers will thank you and you will stand out for it.
  • Remember the front page of the Wall Street Journal test from your school days.  Perhaps a new name would be appropriate for our modern age: The “plastered on every billboard, tweeted around the world and shouted from the mountain tops” test.  If you are considering doing anyhing that you don’t want the world to know about, don’t.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things but know why you’re doing it (learning can be a good reason).  Novelty for its own sake is not a sustainable long term strategy.
  • Find a niche.  Social media is like your brand growing up and going to college.  It’s a brand (no pun intended) new experience for everybody involved.  Find that safe haven where you can be comfortable among peers.  One example on my mind as of late is pro-gaming (you might laugh, but this is a real phenomenon and is rapidly growing in North America).  The popular Real Time Strategy game Starcraft 2 is not even released yet and commentators like HDStarcraft, Day9 and Husky are building a community with hundreds of thousands of followers.  This is for a game that is still in beta.
    Imagine what they will do when this game is released.  Now imagine what they could do with the support of the right organization and what their followers could do for you.
  • Think BIG.  Why limit yourself with opportunities everywhere?
  • Always do your best to connect and inspire people.  Be a good leader for your community and strengthen it by building bonds that last.  Don’t sell out for a short term gain because trust lost is near-impossible to gain back.
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