Technology changes, and marketing technology has been changing dramatically for 15 years. That doesn’t change the goals that have always been in place. Help people find you and give them a predictable, great experience with your company, product, and service.
Marketing has changed more in the last five years than in the last four decades. Get ready, because we are in the throes of a revolution.
When it comes to running your business, the only area that has changed as much as information technology (IT) is marketing. It turns out that they share a common driver that is spurring on their change. That common driver is technology.
You market where people consume media. You market using technologies that people use. It is not that we hate technologies like the Yellow Pages, it is that we just don’t use them anymore, or we use them differently.
People now use Google ubiquitously. People also spend a great deal of time online in general. Email, shopping, sharing pictures, social media, quick lookups, and research are all happening online through any Internet-enabled device.
In Spite of Change, the Same Fundamental Rules Apply
While it is easy to focus on changes in technology and communication, they are not the driving force for your business. They are a means to an end.
Here are two rules that can help you maintain direction and perspective. Using these rules as a guide, much of the rest can fall in place despite the massive changes going on around you.
Rule 1: People Need to be Able to Find You
You do have to stay current. People change. Societies change. The way we access information and communicate changes. Today that means having a website, optimizing your site for search engines, and having a presence on social media, at a minimum.
Many traditional marketing methods still apply as well. Having an article in a newspaper, magazine, or journal still has great impact. However, being in yellow page directories has lost its impact now that people choose to use Google, often from the convenience of their smartphones.
If you are not current, then people will not be able to find you or learn about your business.
Rule 2: People Need to Have a Good Experience with Your Company, Product, and/or Services
Finding your business has always been a first step to business success, and that has not changed. But, once people find you, then what? You can make use of the latest and greatest technologies and advertising to get people to your door or to your website, but if they have a bad experience then it was all for naught.
Focusing on the customer experience has always been critical to business success. Customer experience should be predictable It should be at the heart of all of your evaluation practices; that includes the people behind your counter as well as the website or digital media representing your company 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. A website that looks pretty and works on a smartphone means nothing if it does nothing. Everything representing your business, from a logo, to a business card, to a phone call, to a social post, should move the customer “conversation” forward. Customers need to be educated, guided, and empowered to better understand your company, product, and service on their terms, not just yours.
The best businesses fold this ideology into their company cultures. The best marketing companies understand this rule and use it to great advantage.
The World Changes. But, Not All of It.
Marketing your company is clearly different today than it has been for decades. Today, we do not use phone directories or libraries like we have in the past. We use websites, email, mobile apps, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, and a host of other methods to communicate and advocate our businesses. Today, we have to be able to be found on Google “to be found.” But, we still read magazines, and we still watch billboards as we drive down the road. Televisions still have dedicated spaces in our homes. The quality of your product and service is still fundamental. The way you interact with your clients and customers matters.
While the technologies and practices that are required in marketing are vastly more involved and complicated than they were ten years ago, the costs have not risen in step. Because of the technology, you can get a lot more bang for your dollar, in many ways, than you could in the past.
As has always been the case, you need to be current to be relevant. Someone in your company, or someone helping your company, must have the expertise to achieve the same goals of connecting with your customers and providing a great customer experience. Great leaders recognize the goal and enable the execution. Don’t be afraid of, or intimidated by, change. Guide it. Use the same good business principles you have used for decades, only apply them to today’s marketing environment. Your company will be in good stead as long as good business acumen leads the way.
Bryan Carter is president of Think Webstore, a media production and integrated marketing agency, based in Ridgeland, Mississippi, dedicated to helping companies realize marketing, branding, social, and online strategies. Prior to founding Think Webstore, Carter worked for IBM, AT&T, and NCR in multimedia, interactive learning, and organization development, and has consulted with multiple Fortune 500 companies, including Home Depot, ETS, and Citigroup in the areas of e-commerce, e-learning, and e-business transformation. A recognized industry author, Carter is an invited speaker on a range of topics including intrinsic motivation, interactive media strategies, user experience engineering, organization development, marketing, and advertising.