Marketing in Today's Net-Savvy Connected World
Ah, for the good ole' days of yore. You remember what it was like don't you? Long ago when you could buy ads on the local TV station, radio station or in the newspaper. You had a sale at your hardware store, you put together some ads and pushed the information out to the public.
Since they only had a few TV stations to watch, one newspaper and only a few radio stations, you could be pretty sure that if you had good prices, good ads and were open for business you'd get some business.
Welcome to the 21 st Century!
The consumer is in control today and has more choices. They are not limited to just a few measly stations, a couple of radio stations and one newspaper. Your customer today has access to about a gazillion cable TV channels (that was the last accurate number I saw!), radio on the Internet, TV and video choices on the Internet, Podcasts, Video Podcasts, e-mail marketing, magazines for every special interest you can imagine and a host of Internet sites being launched every day. We're way beyond the inundation of information we talked about a few years ago. We're already drowning in the middle of the ocean with hurricane-force winds hitting us daily.
Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg talk about this in their book, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark? Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing. Today's customer has to put up not just two crossed fingers but they're hiding their eyes, shielding their ears, and avoiding you and everyone else.
I have to chuckle as I see clients coming to me and asking first how to get their message out to everyone with a blast e-mail, then five minutes later complaining that they are getting too much e-mail themselves. Think about it! You want everyone to be enthralled with your stuff, but you don't want to see anything else?
So, how do you break through all the clutter out there? You start by recognizing where your customer is. We're all bobbing up and down in that ocean, hurricane-force winds knocking us about and we want out. If a luxury cruise ship came along and gave us a warm, dry shelter that was safe, we'd be eternally grateful. You and your company have to be that warm, dry shelter that is safe in the hurricane.
This is what your customers want. They want a place to go and purchase the items they want, when they want them. They also want to interact with real people, not a canned voice mail message or automated e-mail.
Did you see that Cyworld launched in the US? What is Cyworld you ask? It is a Korean-developed website that provides community and interaction. On it members (who sign up for free) get to know others who have similar interests. Myspace.com is similar to that and has been around for a while. Users find a community, an online tribe where they get to know others.
In the midst of all the techno-babble and e-this and e-that, we want a human connection with people. I say it is not about the E-Commerce (The Electronics), it is about the R-Commerce (The Relationships). We want to be with people that are like us, who share similar interests.
This is really a matter of the Net and technology merely conforming to human nature. You can't rely on the gizmos and gadgets.
Business today is more than just about transactions---even with transactions. You influence not just this one person. Every person walking into your "store" has the ability to e-mail lots of people who then e-mail lots of people, who are connected on a Digg.com, Friendster, Youtube.com, MySpace.com, Google Groups, My Yahoo or other sites.
But how can you monetize this? Advertising is a big part of it. Targeted, requested, desired advertising. In the past it was push marketing. Today the consumer is in charge and demands certain things when she wants it at the price she wants. Because she has access to sites like pricegrabber.com, mysimon.com, nexttapg, shopzilla.com and others, she can find the best price TODAY and get it.
Oh, and if she doesn't like it, she can quickly jump on a site and say "This one sucks" and immediately thousands---even millions--- of others are going to say, "Gee, I heard that the blue widgets are really bad at XYZ store" and people avoid it in droves.
Right now a lot of the social networking online sites focus on 18-25 year olds. The technology exists and, like e-mail, fax, video and other technologies before, it is a precursor to what will be embraced by business communities soon.
What can you do? Here are a few steps:
Become a trusted source of valuable information. Work like crazy to keep up on what people are saying about you.
Find out the real buzz on the street. Learn about the difference between the one angry person who is mouthing off and the tidal wave of bad press that could wreck havoc.
Provide value for free to get people in the door. Move them slowly up the ladder of "getting to know you." Like building a romantic relationship you have to gradually build trust.
This is only the beginning. Marketing is different than before but still embraces tried-and-true concepts that have worked for years. Be the safe cruise ship in an ocean rocked with hurricane-force winds. Your customers will love you!
Terry Brock is a marketing coach who helps business owners market more effectively leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their busy days using the right rules and tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.