New marketing tools and huge market changes are dramatically influencing the way we do marketing today; but the effect has not always been positive to customers and marketing in general.
The problem is that many of the new marketing channels are inexpensive to use and very easy for anyone in the market place to access. Also, many companies might not be hiring the right resources to better plan and implement their marketing strategies today. Marketers today require a different set of skills, experience and DNA. Even though a lot has changed in our marketplace, one thing that has not is the fundamentals of marketing and communication.
The challenge is to find the marketers who can implement these fundamentals in a very different, saturated and competitive marketplace. Replacing inexperienced and careless marketers with good, sensitive and helpful ones is a must. This is the only way customers will appreciate marketers, giving the art of good marketing the sustainable opportunity they will always need and want.
It is scary that bad marketing is disturbing the fundamentals of communication. Calling someone by name is the basic standard of good communication. Even so, today people will not listen when being called by name. Customers have always appreciated receiving relevant information, but often today they are not interested in listening, even when marketers have something helpful to say.
I am worried that the art of good marketing and sales, which has always been appreciated by customers, might vanish due to bad marketing. Marketing itself might, in a strange way, become more of a commodity, and the art of promoting and selling one-to-one—as has been done for decades—might become almost impossible. Customers then will have even more control, and may not give marketers a chance to sell to them.
I clearly remember the days when customers wanted to be sold to, and therefore helped marketers. I feel that we might be heading towards an era where marketers will only be able to upload content into a marketing pool to be searched by customers.
Customers are becoming more and more fed up with marketing, but the truth is that they are just tired and annoyed by bad marketing. Customers will appreciate good marketing because it is the only way to be updated and informed about what is relevant and interesting to them. Marketing has always been, and it will always be about being caring, helpful and even entertaining its consumers.
It starts with identifying the individuals you can truly help, care or even entertain. Then you get to know them and profile them based on that knowledge, so you can help and entertain in a more personal way.
Customers today are more different from each other; they buy for different reasons, want to hear different things and be incentive in different ways. We have the technologies to help marketers be more personal and relevant, but these technologies can't guarantee success by themselves. Being helpful to customers requires investing more time on the strategy and basics of communication.
Marketers often feel that they can't afford the extra time, but what they really can't afford is to keep annoying customers.
Historically, marketers have thought that the more people they can contact, the greater the response, and therefore the sales. This was somewhat true in the past, when the market was less saturated, customers had more time to listen, and media channels were more interesting to them. Today customers don't listen, not only because there are more marketers trying to capture their attention or because they have less time, but also because many marketers aren't caring, helpful or entertaining enough. Unnecessarily annoying consumers is making it harder for everyone else, including you. Those customers will become more reluctant to engage with marketing.
It is bad enough that so many brands compete for the same customers, but it makes it even worse when others that have nothing helpful to offer or say simply join the noise. Thoroughly describing a target based on what marketers sell (not just products, but unique selling points) and where it is sold will help marketers be more focused, and therefore helpful.
Part of the problem is that marketers today don't have enough resources, relevant information and time to do a good job at trying to target so many potential customers. It's important to estimate how much you have to invest per customer to have a good chance at selling something by being helpful; then, by dividing the marketing budget by that number, you will come up with how many customers you can afford to target. It is far more effective to be helpful to a few than annoying to many. This way, we will all reduce the number of unnecessary contacts so everyone has a better chance to succeed and customers will be respected and helped.
In order for marketers to maintain their influential role in consumers' decisions and behavior, we have to do a much better job of only contacting the right targets with helpful, caring and entertaining information. Personal marketing is more difficult to plan and execute, but it is the only way to convince customers that today is the day they should buy from you.
One of the biggest mistakes in marketing is to think that marketers are the experts when the truth is that customers are. The customer tells us if we are right or wrong. Still, in most cases we don't listen to them.
German Sacristan is a return on marketing investment consultant for Rochester, NY-based printing manufacturer Kodak, and the author of "The Digital & Direct Marketing Goose." Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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