In the world of marketing, those that do not innovate risk being ignored and dismissed while their competition achieves new heights of success.
As marketing professionals, we must recognize that we are living in a post-advertising world; our markets are inundated from the time they wake up to the time they close their eyes to escape it all for another night.
Traditional advertising (radio, print, TV) is expensive and only provides aggregate analytics and reporting capabilities. Yes, you largely have a captive audience at your disposal, but there is no way to target your exact target customer. These outlets can provide you information on when certain socio-economic demographics will be listening with relative accuracy but we need several more data points in order to accurately measure the ROI.
Online marketing has helped increase our ability to target the exact age, gender, location, economic bracket, etc. but even that is not enough today. Why? Because the buyer has changed. Expectations have gone up while the margin for error has gone down. What has driven that change? There are more suppliers in nearly every product and service category, yet demand has not gone up at a commensurate rate, leading to many more sales teams vying for the same pie.
We need to completely re-evaluate how we are marketing to our target audience to begin with. I have a client who tells horror stories of salespeople calling her, attempting to convince her that the company website is terrible and needs to be updated but rather than asking what she needs, what complaints people have about the website, they start off immediately by criticizing and insulting the website as it stands right now. They have no idea that her employer just invested thousands of dollars into a new website and doesn't listen when she tells each of them, every 6 months, that she and the rest of the company are quite happy with the new website. Consequently, 90% of cold calls are ineffective and only 2% result in a meeting (Harvard Business Review).
Building relationships, listening to and anticipating your customer's needs, providing relevant content, providing timely response to needs and inquiries and providing options outside the scope of what your business offers are all behaviors that our respective companies need to engage in if we want to stay relevant in this new marketing paradigm. In other words, get back to the basics of how business USED to be. Not sure what that looks like? Change your focus to be buyer-centric instead of seller-centric and you'll be on the right track. What is right for the buyer? That question will help you if you are in a situation where you don't know what to do.
Reality, this world we live in, is all about change and we either adapt or we fall behind and suffer the consequences. Change is inevitable but we can be prepared for it and we can succeed if we treat our customers right, listen to their needs, help them meet those needs (even if we can't directly offer what they need-this is the importance of networking with other professionals and companies) and then remain in contact and aware of their needs post-sale.
We need to stop focusing on the sales figures and start focusing on the people because people like doing business with people. And you can show you're a person by caring. After all, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." - Theodore Roosevelt.