Believe It Or Not, Marketing Expertise Still Matters
Sometimes, when you do a lot of reading, different works by different people come together in a way that makes you see the world with a new perspective.
Such has been the case for me lately. It started with Mitch Joel’s Ctrl Alt Delete. Then I tuned into Jeremiah Owyang’s work on the Collaboration Economy. The third piece in the puzzle was Jay Baer’s Youtility, his newest book.
All three of these works bear similarities to each other. They all hammer home the point that the business world has changed forever, and it is not just a matter of the social media revolution.
Mitch Joel talks about companies can be created by one individual with a single computer in a small apartment. Jay Baer talks about how companies must now be useful to their customers rather than simply a broadcast station of promotion.
Perhaps the most revolutionary of the three works is Owyang’s research on what he calls the Collaborative Economy, defined as, “An economic model where ownership and access are shared between corporations, startups, and people This results in market efficiencies that bear new products, services, and business growth.”
In the world that these authors present, marketing as it has existed until now plays a very small role, if any. Owyang notes that in the Collaborative economy, customers actually co-create the marketing message by sharing information and opinions on their own terms (and perhaps even on their own platforms). Baer does talk about marketing in Youtility, but primarily in reference to promoting the new services he advises companies to create. All three to some extent renounce older forms of marketing as static, one-way, overbearing means of communication.
Given all of this, it might be easy to assume that your company’s CMO should be involved in something other than marketing.
Perhaps they should be working on the types of apps that Baer talks about in Youtility (for example, the often-mentioned app from Charmin called “Sit or Squat, “ which allows users to rate bathrooms everywhere). Perhaps your company is toying with the concept of moving your CMO more into the realm of customer service. Maybe you’re even thinking that the CMO position will not exist in five years.
Marketing Expertise is Still Needed
The world is changing, and quickly. This is undeniably true. I would posit, however, that marketing expertise – yes, even knowledge pertaining to “traditional” marketing – is still highly relevant. Consider the following questions:
1. If your company has traditionally advertised 6-12 times with full-page spreads in key industry publications and then suddenly ceases that advertising campaign altogether, what message does that send to your industry?
Such a sudden pivot would likely signal that your company no longer has the budget to continue such an aggressive approach. Your shift to other means of marketing must be handled carefully, and there must be a person who can handle that transition efficiently and effectively.
2. What is your brand? Who is your company? Before creating the kinds of services Baer recommends or before allowing your customers to grab the torch from your company, you must know who your company is and what you stand for.
This corporate brand should infuse itself into everything you do, traditional or not. While everyone within a company should be on board with how the company’s brand is defined, it is the marketing department that can often breathe life into what has been sketched out in meetings.
3. How will you respond within the framework of the Collaborative Economy? If you see customers sharing views or information about your products or services, how will you handle those scenarios, whether they are good or bad for your company?
How will you capitalize on successes? How will you smooth over difficulties? Yes, a truly successful company today will assign tasks like these not just to one department but to everyone, but someone with marketing expertise can still be an invaluable player in these conversations.
4. How will you make sure your messaging remains consistent as you transition from one marketing methodology to the next? Even if you are a passionate believer in Youtility, in rebooting, or in the Collaborative Economy, your company cannot make this shift in a 24-hour period.
How can you ease your way from perhaps more traditional marketing to these new ways of doing things? How can you maintain your status as an industry expert while simultaneously giving more power to your customers?
Often in the world of social media one sees a lack of nuance. “You are on Twitter so you should stop your print advertising campaign.” “You are on Facebook, therefore you should not go to trade shows anymore.”
In the real world, these kinds of “this or that” scenarios should not exist.
Rather, eras, marketing methodologies, departments, and approaches should all melt together to create something newer and stronger, something that pulls the best from everyone and everywhere.
While Joel, Baer, and Owyang all give a glimpse of what the future holds for business, do not assume that you have been dropped into the middle of the ocean with no lifeboat. You can still function in your harbor of the known while you explore all that is new.
Don’t you agree?
Image: Un ragazzo chiamato b (Creative Commons)
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