Is the wise man on top of the mountain lonely? Do you remember how people searched for information 10 years ago? Are you resisting the urge to enter this in the search bar above?
If you answered YES to all the above, then you are probably over 30 and a bona-fide searchaholic. On the other hand, if you couldn’t possibly do your homework, stay current or find Mr. Taco without Google—then you could easily be 13. Archetypes may not exist on a results page, but our actions in relation to our environment do.
Search is the root of discovery, but a purchase decision is still a few clicks away. And because marketers are smart people it is not a matter of if, but when will eCommerce merge with search to become irreplaceable?
“I don’t think I could survive without Google.” ~ my Wife
Is anyone else tired of talking about this Marketing Land of Oz? Social Media is communication phenomenon, but it’s not the yellow brick road to success and clicking three times will not get you home.
Why? Because if you need a social media strategy to be authentic, maybe you have a brand disorder?
The lofty new authors of “Social Media or Die” are not talking to the real people that are on these channels. If they stopped to have this conversation, they would discover a growing discontent for advertising on Facebook. The low entry cost and viral potential makes it attractive to marketers, but consider what your profile would look like if every brand in the world was marketing on social media… a big, noisy NASCAR page.
How marketing showed up and ruined the social media party…
Of course there are case studies and success stories out there, but the percentage of replicable success is low. The bell curve (something we all learned in grade school) remains true, and the early adopters that failed quickly and refined their strategy are winning. Unfortunately, a big wave of newbies is coming. This will over-saturate the medium and leave a mess in the wake.
What if the best social media channel for marketing is yet to come?
I’m not discouraging social media marketing, but a simpler theory is you don’t need a strategy to be on social media—just be real, build a healthy presence, and have a relevant and compelling word of mouth message. Your fans will do the rest.
If you’re out there already, then keep playing. Trying to catch up on strategy is about as effective as worrying about the next thing. What will you do then?
Casual Thought Friday… you can’t have everything, so why not find the one thing?
This holiday season, the winning retail strategy will be helping people gift their loved ones with something they really want.
Last year it was easy to predict that companies like Ebay and Overstock.com were going to be runaway favorites. This year people will be looking for a deal, but even more savvy about how to find that special something vs. settling for anything.
The relevance of social media in our lives will be a game changer in the lingering economic aftershock this Christmas. If you are paying attention to the signals like Facebook’s “How well do you know Me?” and what I’m assuming will come to pass as the Xmas List app for the iPhone, then you know exactly what to get that special someone.
It’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts. But why can’t you have both plus the shopping experience?
As I’m searching online or wandering out into the cold this December, don’t pitch me what’s on sale—help me find the one thing I’m looking for… getting it down the chimney is negotiable.
The Human Resource Company (ex: Zappos, New Seasons)
Now is a great time to be selling change to the Human Resource Company because their framework opens many needs to be addressed. The behavioral traits of this business culture:
• Central Concepts: individuality, needs, skills, relationships
• Decision Process: empowerment
This type of company is much like a big co-op, where individual contributions add up to customer service success. There is a willingness to hear new ideas—especially fighting through a recession. The solution you pitch must address their core challenge: align organizational goals and human needs.
The sales cycle will be a bit longer than the RFP methodology of the Structural Company because you will need to build a base of influencers. The big decisions are made by committee. But the upside to this is Human Resource Companies have a great brand following, and working with them will be good for business.
Part Five: Selling Change to the Political Company
Structural companies perform well to task, but rarely see risk as an opportunity. They are typically public companies that have multiple channels and layers to their mix, and there are two ways you can pitch them: RFP or Non-RFP.
Getting on the RFP list is all about positioning and only half the battle. Any more than 8 respondents drops your odds of winning to less than 20%, providing the company is unhappy with the incumbent. And don’t shy away from the skeptics in the conference room, they can be your greatest influencers if you win them over.
The (fun) aggressive approach is to make a connection, help them recognize a need for change and bypass the RFP process. Either road you take should be relevant to the team making the decision and honor these 3 rules for alignment:
needs to solutions
innovation to task
cost to ROI
A common sales mistake, especially in this new economy, is hitting your next prospective client with your wish list of services. Social media marketing can help you have conversations with customers to discover their pains, and success with the Structured company will come with patience and flexibility.
Bottom line: Don’t sell a cost effective solution when you can sell the best solution. If your company leads in an area of expertise, then go directly after that piece of business from the customer’s perspective—and negotiate money over terms of agreement and deliverables.
Part Four: Selling Change to the Human Resource Company
We are all wired differently, and we are all influenced by different media, cultures and relationships. If the premise of marketing in a 2.0 World is to have a conversation with the mass of niches, then it makes sense to have variable levels of creativity in your marketing (depending on which audience you are speaking with and why).
Just to start spark a fire, I introduced tweepoll to Twitter today. The hash is a daily question just to gauge the relevance of a topic in twitterspace. Let’s see what happens…
I am not a consumer.I am a husband, father and a hard working guy – but I could be your next loyal customer.
Do you know what I have in common with your other customers regardless of my race or demographic?
Behavior is making a comeback in the relevance of marketing. In our online (social) media diluted society, understanding my behavioral “why” will be an opportunity for your marketable “what” to meet my changing needs and the demands of this new economy.
There are 3 online behaviors that could lead me to you.
1)Direct – keying in the direct path to your site
2)Research and Shopping – hopefully finding your site through Google
3)Social – discovering your site through my “friends”
Promotions can drive traffic, and a good SEO/SEM strategy is important. But understanding how to reach me when I’m just hanging out is more valuable than why I’m on Facebook or how often I Twitter?
This isn’t the year to execute the same marketing strategy with less money. You have to try something different to get different results. Better results.
Mission Possible: Build a diverse online presence based on why I am online. Talk to me. Keep it relevant to what motivates me, and then encourage me to go one step further with you.
Casual Thought Friday… is Google replacing the institution of Public Relations?
A recent conversation with a thought leader in SEM (search engine marketing) started an argument that touched on this premise – is Google replacing PR firms as the third party specialist for reputation repair and recovery? How do customers interpret the top search results, and what is the lasting impression?
Take everything you know about SEM, mash it up and look at the influence Google has on our perception. If we enter a keyword in the search box, and anything negative is the first or second result in the query, then that business / service / product has a serious brand marketing issue. And paying a PR firm to damage control the situation with relevant press releases and case study band aids could take months (or even years) to fix the problem.
Why? Because Google operates on a protocol platform, and it doesn’t respond well to being told how to rank search results. Bottom line: don’t play with fire if you can’t control it. You could risk compounding the problem and the last thing you want is to be black listed.
The relevance of SEMPR is growing, and smart marketers are already integrating SEMPR into their 2009 strategy. Because they understand one of the 10 Commandments of building a brand relationship… you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
The recession is here and consumer confidence is down, but you can turn that frown upside down. Analyzing the list of retailers closing their stores stirs these three arguments:
1. Are these stores closing because of the recession, growth boundary expansion and over-saturation, or failure to compete online? All of the above.
Let’s take the recession out of the argument for a moment and look at gross expansion. New malls are opening in the suburbs while urban malls are declining. How is this healthy growth? How many GAP stores do we need in one suburban / urban community, and how many will thrive in that same community when they’re selling ‘nice to have’ products vs. ‘need to have’ essentials?
Other stores have failed to competitively market their online customer experience. Linens & Things did not do enough to distinguish itself from Bed Bath & Beyond, and they failed to connect with their target audience online. Without a compelling strategy, they were unable to carve a niche against the other wolves in the home furnishings market like Wal-Mart, Target, Fred Meyer, Macy’s and Pottery Barn.
2. Will thinning the herd be the rise of Overstock.com?
Any liquidated merchandise won’t be sitting in limbo for long. It will be sold for pennies on the dollar to slash retailers and outlet malls to make room for new merchandise… and new stores.
Retailers like Overstock.com could rise to the top of the food chain in 2009. Bargain hunters will be happy to get last year’s model next spring. And maybe Circuit City waited too long to get into the game, while companies like Comp USA went exclusively online to sell directly from their warehouse.
3. If you don’t like the game – then don’t play by the conventional rules!
Even the banking industry – boring – has evolved. They reward online bill paying and ATM banking, and charge fees to speak to a teller. Human resources and retail space are big expenses to retailers looking to reduce their margins.
The online retailers that survived 8 years ago had brick & mortar stores, but that’s no longer necessary. And other businesses like IKEA can offer competitive pricing online and with low overhead stores because they are warehouse showrooms employing their customers to do some of the work.
The marketable relevance of your business can make you the leader in your industry, or leave you playing catch up. This economy presents a challenge, but the sunny side of a recession is the reduction in non-adapters. Market share is on the table and up for grabs – if the remaining players are smart enough to realize they’re still in the game and do something about it!
It is time to accept a few simple truths heading into Q4 2008:
This November, the United States will have a new President.
The US economy is hurting and will need time to recover.
Market competition will be fierce whether your business is growing or at risk.
Your marketing strategy may be subject to change.
This is a collective progression of events that will certainly have an impact on your business. Are you ready for this change? And how will your business adapt to this new environment?
This may be the best time for this piece of advice: if you can’t get out of it… get into it. Going with the flow instead of fighting the inevitable requires less resources and it will allow you to embrace change as the life cycle of business.
Change creates a challenge – which creates problems – which create a need for solutions – which create business. Successful companies see change as the catalyst for growth plus a new story to tell.
Whatever the remainder of 2008 throws at you, it is always a good time to anayze the situation and/or create a new marketing strategy. And the best part of change is that it is always starting… now.