I don’t mean that literally, but figuratively. Why would I make such a bold statement? It’s simple. Social Media is changing everything related to Sales and Marketing. The tactics we traditionally used to market things in the past have become obsolete and impotent in today’s crowd influenced reputation-based marketplace. If you think the only change you need to make is to hire a social media expert and put them on your staff, you’ve missed the point. Social Media is driving such fundamental changes in the way customers purchase that traditional marketing departments just do not have the structure, mindset and skills to be successful. The brand leaders of tomorrow have already made sweeping changes and they are well on their way of stealing your customers and market share. Are you willing to make the changes needed to catch-up?
Shift in Control: Major shifts in the purchase decision making process have occurred in the marketplace enabled by Web 2.0 technology and the rapidly growing popularity of Social Media. This change is so profound that it is redefining the role of marketing and how traditional forms of advertising, public relations, promotions and corporate communications are being used. To succeed, companies will need to modify their marketing mix and take a fresh look at their go-to-market strategies. (You may want to read my blog on benchmarking data results we just released regarding Web 2.0 Marketing trends) Social Media has changed the rules of the game. Here are five reasons why you may want to re-think how your current marketing department is structured and staffed.
- Power of the Crowd: The sales-driven one-to-many marketing mentality of the past (disruption marketing) will not work with Social Media. We’ve reached the tipping point where pull strategies (attraction marketing) have surpassed the value of hunter led push strategies. Reputation-based decision making using the crowd (friends, colleagues and third-party discussions) puts the power of information in the hands of the consumer. Buyers are no longer as reliant as they have been in the past on gaining information directly from the company. They are going to those they trust first.
- Inverted Decision Making: Thanks to search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and Social Media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp we live in a highly connected world. Access to trusted friends, colleagues and unbiased third-parties in order to gain advice, reviews and opinions has become pervasive. This collective feedback commonly known as the “Voice of the Customer” has influenced and changed the way decisions are made. Bad product reviews and poor customer service complaints can quickly become very visible to the general population. As a result, long before they even contact you, chances are your customers have already made up their mind on which product to buy, regardless of the number of times they have seen your brand message. The traditional purchase decision making process has become inverted which is shifting budgets and focus away from push strategies and putting greater emphasis on pull strategies.
- Eyeballs Do Not Matter: Traditional marketing has always relied very heavily on defining success by the number of impressions created with your target audience. The thinking has been that the more prospects you touched multiple times the greater percentage of buyers you could persuade to buy your product. While still a factor, in Social Media the sheer volume of eyeballs you reach is not really that important. Success in Social Media is based on engagement, shared value and building trusted relationships. An unflattering twitter string or blog discussion will quickly erase any positive impressions you have made through push advertising regardless of the reach and frequency you have achieved. With Social Media, the quality of engagement is far more important than the quantity of touch-points you make.
- Real-Time Agility: In the past, it was not uncommon to take a couple of days to contact an unsatisfied buyer, respond to a question or even address a poorly written article by a reporter. However, today it is different. With the viral aspects of the Web, a delay in responding by just a few hours can make or break your reputation. Dissatisfied consumers that do not hear from you can send out a tweet, post a blog or comment on get satisfaction.com and their complaint can be retweeted and shared with thousands in a matter of minutes. Social Media is an always-on 24/7 channel that requires you to be ready to respond to at any time, even over the weekend. Given the need for speed and vigilance, marketing needs to put greater focus on monitoring, evaluating and managing their online reputation. There are many free tools available today that can help facilitate this very important activity.
- New Currency of Free: “Give to get” has become a standard practice in Social Media. It is the action of giving value to the crowd first in order to make a connection, start a dialog and ultimately become accepted by the community. Value can be provided in the form of free advice through a blog, tips in an eBook, complimentary research and other types of offerings like free tools and special widgets. It is the new currency of the Web. Building your online reputation and providing an on-going stream of valuable content requires a different set of processes. To be effective, marketing departments will need to perform more like a publishing company than the more functionally-based marketing departments of the past. Attraction marketing is a different type of animal and to optimize your effectiveness it will require a change in your people, processes and the technology you use.
In order to make my point, I will admit I probably have overstated the need to dismantle the marketing department, but the fact is there are very significant and fundamental changes taking place in the marketplace. The use of Social Media is growing exponentially, consumers have changed how they purchase and we live in a world that is highly connected and transparent. These changes require us to change the way we market and sell. The need for transformation is upon us and the companies that adapt the quickest will be the ones best positioned for success in the future.
About Metricsboard: We are an online benchmark company that provides free business performance benchmark assessments. The benchmarks are automated and take less than 10 minutes online to complete. In return, you receive a full results report with comparison data on best practices, a maturity rating against your competitors (peer group) and strategic recommendations. There is a complimentary benchmark you can take for Web 2.0 Marketing, B2B Sales, IT Infrastructure, Human Resources, Procurement and Corporate Communications. Your privacy is protected and you will not receive any sales follow-up calls.
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