Monday, May 11, 2009

Dont be the Tree that Doesn't Make a Sound

Un-marketing. What? Yes, un-marketing. Or, for the visual among us, consider Company = A, Consumer = B. Now consider this. Traditional marketing? A -> B.
Hope for an entities' success? B -> A.

Lately I've been doing quite a bit of observation and I am noticing some things "going down." With the opening up of information, there is an ever-increasing shift in power from corporations to consumers. Consumers are gaining an ever-increasing voice, and companies better pay attention.

For pretty much the existence of marketing as we know it, there was a flow in place to move a customer from awareness to adoption. A five-step process, including awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, adoption. The AIETA model. Now, also consider the textbook definition of the marketing process, which includes performing each of the following: situational analysis, marketing strategy, marketing mix decision, and implementation & control. There is something very interesting to all of this which Jason Falls, forward-thinking-marketer, catechizes on so nicely: "do you find it disturbing that the customer isn't mentioned in any of the main tenants of marketing thought? The AIETA flow assumes that consumers are just going to follow along. It lends nothing to their needs, just throws the awareness of the product in their faces. And if 'implementation & control' isn't condescending and presumptuous of a company's target consumer, I don't know what is."

Things are changing. In the past, this method of corporate conjuring and creating, tucked up away until the launch of the product like Santa and his elves working all year in anticipation of Christmas eve doesn't fly anymore. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a little because companies do perform focus groups and surveys, but still, what kind of opinions are they really getting? Consumers are not senseless lemmings. Consumers want to be listened to, engaged, fed (with information) met where they are, and be respected.

Now consider reality as it exists right now. With the help of social media tools and opening up of data, information, conversation, and truths are becoming increasingly more prevalent (I like how Seth Godin discusses the truths point -"multiple channels of information mean that it's almost impossible to live a lie...authentic stories spread and last"). While in the past, a consumers' voice was left to channels such as word of mouth, the suggestion box, and emails to a company, now consumers have a say. And because consumer A + consumer B + consumer C = consumer ZZZ+, consumers ultimately have more than just a say, they ultimately rule the roost.

Now, of course the shift is gradual. We don't have proletariat consumers rising up against bourgeoisie corporations, but rather with the opening up of information, a more natural shift as consumers find more airtime and start conversing. Perhaps the coolest thing with this is that I believe it helps consumers as they begin to have a voice, and I believe it helps the overall marketplace because for the corporations that have a solid product/service, they will be able to get input from the horse's mouth and improve their offerings based on reality vs. theory. This can be hugely opportunistic for businesses that see things in the right light.

How to implement more un-traditional, un-marketing tactics?

*Put on your listening ears! For too long, businesses have pushed products on consumers without consideration of what they want/need/etc. Take a step back and listen to the buzz. The world won’t stop!

*Make it an A+. The best, most, authentic marketing is when your customers see the value/quality your company or product/service provides. If your customers love you because what you provide is quality, they will spread the word authentically and these stories will be recited again and again...

*Participate (and this doesn't mean create everything and try to control everything). Allow things to grow and reinforce the positives of your brand by consistently incorporating positives into the evolution of your offering. As nicely put by Brian Oberkirch "bake your marketing into the experience of the product, not in discussions of it."

Things are changing. And with the right consideration, there is a surplus of opportunity. But adhering unbudgingly to the old ways of thought may result in a company being tuned out, like a tree in the woods that doesn't make a sound when it falls (because no one is around).

"Marketing, even in its newer, social-media enabled forms, is not about tools or technology, but about the way you look at your customers. That regard for your customers has to be in your DNA, such that you face the hard work of getting out in the trenches and embracing the feedback your customers give you to drive your marketing, customer service, and product development."

-Deb Schultz, Social Media Industry Thought Leader

1 comment:

  1. how can you use these ideas in your professional life?