The Deadzone: Why marketing is deadby
Marketing as you know it died a slow death between the late 1990s and the early 2010s - a death caused by complications from consumer sophistication, growing media options, and changes in the media delivery system. If your business is trying old-school marketing in the digital world, you are wasting money. If you’re struggling to understand the new ways of reaching, selling to, and retaining customers, you’re not alone.
It’s a brave, new, paradigm-killing world out there. My free book Marketing is Dead gives all the key details for understanding what works best today. For those who need a quicker fix, here is the “Bad, Good, and Ugly” of 21st-century digital marketing and what it means for you.
The bad news here is that you’re almost certainly wasting money. Everybody knows how old-school marketing methods like broadcast media and mass-mailing floods work, which makes most folks reluctant to make the shift over to channels they understand less.
The consumer had changed. Old-school marketing reached passive, unconnected consumers with limited options as to how they viewed or read media. It included television spots that played to a living room full of viewers who watched only what the networks offered at that particular time. It splashed across glossy magazines eagerly anticipated and delivered to the home once a month. Word of mouth spread slowly over dinner conversations and phone calls.
Today’s consumer is active, connected, sophisticated and inundated with options. She watches television on demand, and spends ad time surfing the web on her phone. He doesn’t wait for this month’s issue of Motorcycle Enthusiast because he can find all the articles he wants with a quick Google search. Word of mouth happens instantaneously over social media, and can create viral publicity for the good or benefit of a company faster than overnight.
Any marketing plan that doesn’t address this fundamental change in the consumer is a marketing plan doomed to fail. Because the consumer has changed, your company’s relationship with the consumer must also change. Clear and obvious marketing messages must be replaced with robust content sharing your knowledge. A salesman-buyer relationship has to become a mentor-pupil dynamic where you demonstrate your expertise while simultaneously building trust.
And it all has to be optimised for web search, robustly measured, and tweaked in real time.
What you can do today…
- Change your mindset from “marketing” to “business development” to reflect the differences between what used to work and what you must do to succeed today.
- Audit your website to find all pieces of remarkably educational and useful information already on hand. Do the same for your print, video and audio marketing messages.
- Read the three top books in your field written for laypeople. Compare them to the quality of information you currently provide to your potential clients.
The good news about this paradigm shift is how much less expensive and more reliable the new business development methods are. Where money on TV spots carried a premium price tag and could only deliver a correlation with increased sales rather than a measurable causal relationship, a paid link to your landing page costs pennies on the dollar and tells you exactly how many people clicked that particular link – and in real-time. An inbound content marketing system does the job of half a sales team, 24 hours a day, for the cost of maintaining your server, while reporting to you the details of how well each component is working.
The better news is how few people are doing this right. If you adopt the new business development paradigm before your competitors, you will operate at a serious advantage until they get with the program. Even once they do, the momentum of your thought leadership, social engagement, and referral network will keep you in the lead.
What you can do today…
- Shift your social media strategy from a broadcast platform to a place consumers and potential clients can interact meaningfully with your company.
- Identify the five things you wish you could know about the results of your existing marketing and sales platform.
- Visit your web page and count how many clicks you have to make before you are offered a chance to buy something or sign up for a newsletter.
All paradigm shifts have experienced the same ugly trend. When there’s money to be made in a situation new enough that people understand that it’s important without knowing how it works…charlatans come running to make a payday off the gullible or desperate. Right behind them come well-intentioned people who don’t really understand the new paradigm enough to help people make the shift.
This is happening in digital marketing right now. For every solid, metrics-based, professional and effective online marketing agency or consultant, there are ten sources who will waste your money either intentionally or unintentionally. Although this situation isn’t unique to modern digital marketing, it’s happening right now and could be happening to you.
What you can do today…
- Visit the website of anybody you’re considering bringing on to consult or run your business development system. Ask yourself whether that site is following the paradigms we’ve discussed in this article. If not, ask yourself why.
- Download my free book on modern digital marketing. Use the information there to build up your existing business development, and to rate the claims and value of whoever you put in charge of shifting your paradigm.
Marketing is dead. Long live business development. Making the shift isn’t something you can do overnight, or (in most cases) without bringing in some outside expertise. But between the lower cost per lead, higher sales per close, and better long-term retention, it’s not only worth it for your frugal business… it’s necessary.