I have written about human nature before. But I keep seeing the repeating patterns of people espousing the virtues of “the old ways”. Not because they think the old ways are good, but because they so desperately hope that if they keep saying how effective those ways still are they will somehow become effective again.
We have seen this for some time from people saying the “cold calling” is still the way to generate business. This clearly isn’t the case as the caller needs to make 10 times as many calls to get a meeting as they needed to a few years ago. But nevertheless, this argument rages on.
However, the underlying head-in-the-sand belief is that if you “plough-on regardless” things will improve. Well they won’t. And there are lots of “new marketing” techniques which are shortly about to be invalidated and the world for businesses that rely on these is about to get a whole lot more difficult. I’ll tell you why.
Businesses look for increases in efficiency (as opposed to increases in sales) because often businesses are run by accountants rather than by entrepreneurs. So, management consultancies advise on how ERP systems or EMP platforms, or BI tools will help increase efficiency, and therefore profits by 5 or 10 or 15%. They certainly used to be able to do so (less so now, but they still do provide a benefit).
This relentless drive for efficiency filtered down from the “business” to the various departments. And this increase in efficiency (the idea that it’s possible to do more with less) included the company attitude towards work. Nowhere better is this illustrated than in the marketing department. Marketing automation tools promise an increase in efficiency. This seems too good to be true as the delivery or messages can be optimised for each of the customer personas and then largely the process can run itself.
What business wouldn’t want that? Well, all businesses would, but the fundamental problem is that this automated process is only for the benefit of the company and not for the benefit of the customer. If you are a company who has a marketing automation tool you’re probably about to shout that this isn’t true. But deep down you know it is. Marketing automation doesn’t personalise communication to customers and prospects. It simply gives the impression of personalisation to the prospect. And that’s why you use it. It allows you to do less work and make the customer think that you are in fact doing more work.
Things are about to change.
Customers don’t want to be treated like sheep, they want true personalisation. Hence the rise of spam filters and, more tellingly, ad blockers. They don’t not want to be fooled in to thinking they are receiving personalised communication. They actually want personalised communication!
Customers do not want to be re-marketed to as they browse around the internet. Hence the latest versions of Apple’s Safari browser don’t let cookies track the visitor from website to website.
Most tellingly though, the advent of GDPR legislation means that not only will you be able to do much less with your database than you once did, the penalties for flouting the rules are very much more severe. For both the company and you the individual.
So, what does this mean? Are you a corporate that has spent a small fortune on marketing automation software and a DMP (data management platform)? Or an organisation with a large database of customers built up over many years? A company that spends a large amount on creating content and buying (either email addresses or ppc advertising, re-marketing and banner ads) to generate your sales?
If the answer is yes, then you are going to need to radically rethink how you create opportunities because the marketing automation ship has sailed (or is sailing).
You should be putting in place your strategy for the future and you should be putting it in place. Pretty soon all of those old techniques on which you rely will be about as much use as a telephone directory as a business development tool.
Clearly, I have a solution and clearly the solution is social! But if you think I’m just saying that because it suits me to do it (which of course it does) consider this:
- People employ spam filters, ad blockers and voicemail so that they can avoid you and your messages. However, they go to social media of their own freewill to enjoy themselves.
- Storing customer data is becoming more and more difficult with successive legislative increases. But on social channels you store nothing. All of the communication is conducted on a customer-led basis.
- Even if you can find a way to use your database it’s largely out of date. On social media every connection is a current one so this challenge simply doesn’t exist.
The good news and the bad news.
The bad news is that you need to radically rethink how you generate sales and how your marketing (and sales) organisations work. Although you might have seen this coming for a while, time is pressing and in reality, the future holds only one vehicle for engaging your prospects and customers. And that is social media.
The good news is that there is a great opportunity because despite the fact that social media has been around for over a decade, most businesses haven’t grasped social media in a way which is meaningful and turned it in to the sales and revenue engine that it could be. You really can have first mover advantage.
Embrace social properly. Social media is something that humans are very good at using so don’t fight against it. You need strategic vision to “socialise” your organisation. Marketing, selling, internal communications, brand – everything, as this infographic shows. Over to you!
Digital Leadership Associates: We are Global Social Media Management Consultancy. We do three things: Social Media Strategy, Social Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email or call one of our founders on 00 44 7823 534 557 and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.