Old marketing was transactional in nature. One would organise a direct mail, telemarketing or advertising campaign, and one would measure the results obtained. If it achieved a return on investment, the campaign was deemed successful. If not, it failed.
As soon as activities were undertaken — phone calls were made or letters landed on the doormat of prospects — one could hope to receive some sort of response. Therefore, using this old model there was always a possibility of some quick wins.
There was also a lot of wastage. For example, a mailer could be sent to 5,000 households. For a good campaign, a company might receive 150 responses, but nothing would happen with the other 4,850 letters to which there was no response. Of course, today, response rates from traditional channels of marketing are in decline as consumers find less value in this type of communications. So, the days of that kind of response, in the main, are over. Consequently, companies are looking to new ways of marketing to attract customers to their business.
However, new marketing doesn’t rely on campaigns. New marketing relies on providing value to potential customers. This leads to engagement with a prospect, and a share (however small) of their attention. When they are then ready to buy, you will then be one of the suppliers they consider. Marketing cannot guarantee you the business. However, if your marketing activity ensures you get a seat at the table, when someone wants to buy, your marketing is working.
You do not engage with prospects and customers by campaign. It is an ongoing process. By having good Customer Relationship Management software, using web analytics and monitoring responses received through other social media platforms, you will be able to assess where customers find value in your communications. In this way, you will be able to enrich the experience they have when interacting with you. This, in turn, makes it more likely they will want to engage again, in the future.
Not only, therefore, are one-off campaigns no longer relevant, but the nature of marketing has also changed. When a company sent out a direct mail piece or launched a billboard advertising campaign, there was no lasting value in the communications. Once the campaign was over, the company had no residual value from the activity other than the new business it may have generated. Of course, there were legendary campaigns that remained in the minds of consumers for years, but these few hits were relatively few and far between. Today, however, this is not so.
Whether a company posts videos on YouTube, podcasts on iTunes, starts a forum for people to ask questions or creates a game for users to share and play, there is inherent value in these communications. In other words, the shelf life of a good video can be many years, as can a good series of podcasts and articles. The tools used to engage an audience over the long term provide value to the company. Moreover, the engaged user base that is created, and the data this provides, also becomes an asset of the business in a way that was never achieved in traditional marketing.
So for example, a small firm of independent financial advisers starts producing regular monthly videos on its website with the latest economic picture and what it means to its clientele. These videos have a shelf life of several months and even when out of date, they keep working for the business. This is because they provide an impressive amount of content on the site, which in turn helps make the IFA look credible and an expert in their field.
Moreover, as word spreads about the videos, the content gets carried by other websites and blogs. With more people subscribing to receive them, the IFA ends up with an engaged database of ever increasing prospects. These are people who are regularly watching the videos on a monthly basis. The database becomes an asset to the company in its own right as well as bringing in regular leads and opportunities to the business. Of course, it took a while for the channel to start working and build momentum. When there were only two videos and ten viewers, it wasn’t bringing in leads.
This is just one example of how new marketing works. The bad news is it takes time to build. There are no quick wins. The good news, however, is that for the first time, marketing is now not only responsible for generating new business opportunities, but it can also add real value to a business, over the long term, by building tangible assets for a company.
It is time for the message to reach small business owners and corporate boardrooms alike. Marketing should no longer be seen as a net cost to a business. Today, marketing can create real value in its own right.