A husband once asked his wife, “Why do you cut the ends off of a roast before cooking it?”
“Because my mother did it that way,” she replied.
Curious, the husband called his mother-in-law and asked her the same question, and she gave an identical answer. More intrigued than ever, the man contacted his wife’s grandmother and posed the same quandary, after explaining the answer he had received from the previous women. The elderly woman chuckled and said, “I don’t know why they cut off the ends of the roast, but I did it that way because all I had was a small pan that a full roast wouldn’t fit into.”
It’s an amusing story, but it serves to illustrate an important point when it comes to marketing for your business. If you are taking actions and spending money from your marketing budget on line items solely because “we always allocate money to that; it’s always been part of the budget,” you might want to consider a new way of thinking.
The moral of the story is clear. Some practices are initiated with a purpose, but over time, even the best practice can lose its usefulness.
The Status Quo Must Go
A good business must know when to reevaluate and make changes. What was a good idea in its day can become an exercise in status-quo behavior, a financial drain and a time-waster—none of which can be afforded in this day and age. I have frequently told potential clients that when it comes to more effective marketing, it is not a question of spending more than what has been budgeted as much as it is reallocating those funds into ideas, campaigns and actions that work. Sometimes you have to cut loose of marketing tools that may have brought return five, 10 or 15 years ago, but are now bringing in next to nothing in terms of new business and increased revenue.
The pan has changed. It now includes an increasingly effective way to reach your target audience, whether B2B or B2C, through a term you have likely heard before: “new media.” At its most basic level, new media represents online and digital ways of receiving information, often in an interactive and personal way. It encompasses, but is not limited to: websites, social media, mobile apps, email blasts, personalized URL mailings…the list could go on for quite awhile!
New media is moving marketing away from generalized, massive shotgun blasts of advertising, in which we tell our target market what to think about our brand, to personalized, focused portals in which we invite prospects to interact with—and in some cases, even help define—our brand, so that we might better meet their specific needs. We then ask them to share their (hopefully) good experiences with our companies naturally and conversationally through digital means, such as social media outlets, which have become the next generation of “word-of-mouth” marketing.
Increasingly, the foundation of most business’ marketing has become their website. Over 70 percent of goods and services purchased locally are done so after people conduct research online. This is fed by the fact that essentially every traditional form of media inevitably points back to the website. If you run a TV ad or radio commercial or place a print ad, right after your company name and phone number there better be a mention of your website! Long before your prospect picks up the phone to call you, they have already checked you out and made a decision about who you are and whether it is even worth their time to make the call in the first place!
The vast world of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and corporate blogs, and the rise of mobile devices, smart phones and tablet computers have a tendency to scare the small to mid-sized business because of the demand for consistent, creative administration in order to be effective. Larger companies have created whole new positions within their marketing departments, with titles like Social Media Director or Internet Sales Manager, but many businesses cannot find an employee that isn’t already wearing 10 different hats, or they have launched into the new media world without a strategy relevant to a new and changing pan (marketplace), only to see their efforts fall flat with disappointing ROI.
Here’s a question for you: When was the last time you really looked at your marketing strategies to see if you had a good mix of traditional and new media efforts?
Maybe 10 to 15 years ago, running newspaper and yellow page ads were your primary tools for getting the word out about your services, but now your target market has migrated to the web. Maybe five years ago, your website was a basic brochure-style site, but now your clients want to be able to interact more conveniently with you 24 hours a day, and you lack the functionality. Maybe a year ago, you scoffed at why on earth any business would waste time dabbling in Facebook, and now the new marketplace for your product resides squarely in that very community.
Adding New Media to the Mix
As you consider adding new media into your marketing mix, remember the following basic strategic thoughts:
- Google searches from mobile devices grew 130 percent over the last year. That trend will continue to increase as people increasingly view their mobile devices as a means for “value exchange.” (If you don’t have a mobile marketing strategy for your company, you need to start looking into it!)
- The typical net user accesses web pages through an average of 109 searches per month, as opposed to direct page entry, which is just two to six pages per month. (SEO is still important!)
- Companies with corporate blogs generate 67 percent more leads than companies who don’t. (Doesn’t matter if you are B2B or B2C.)
- Among sources that people are most likely to trust for recommendations, social media contacts are far and away the highest at 47.5 percent. (Social media isn’t a fad, it can be a game changer.)
- Make sure your website is “mobile-friendly.” This is increasingly how your prospects will interact with your company. (Have you ever brought your own company website up on a mobile browser?)
Ultimately, with regard to new media, experiment now; don’t wait to get into the game, realizing there is still a big learning curve. It’s changing how we are interfacing with the world, and if you aren’t in the game in the future, you won’t be in the game at all.
It’s a lot to think about, but thinking about it is exactly what needs to be done, and on a regular basis!
Don’t get caught in a rut. Your business deserves to be on the cutting edge, with methods that get your brand out there, not stuck trying to talk to the prospects of 15, five or even one year ago that may not even be around anymore…or whose needs have changed. Your prospective clients keep changing with the times. Why plant a flag in the past and dig your heels in when it comes to reaching them?
Reviewing your marketing options, directions and motions should be a regular process, as should the analysis of your results. That way, course corrections can be made and new revenue streams can be navigated, whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a local mom and pop shop.
The pan has changed…maybe your marketing plan should, too. iBi