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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

Back in the 1920s when marketing was “discovered” we lived in “simpler” times. There was no internet, buyers couldn’t go on-line and do their own research. So what you did was interrupt people and told them about your product. If you interrupted them enough they might decide they wanted the product and made a purchase.

As time moved on, we moved to the next phase of Marketing. The mailshot.

When I started in sales (there was no internet or computers) I hand wrote letters and gave them to the typing pool. We pushed out as many letters as we could.  A whole industry was born. How to write the mailshot. There were metrics too, which in summary was, send more letters you get more of a response.

When people stopped opening mailshots we faxed them. In yesterday’s currency this would have been called a growth hack. Let me explain. Companies employed people as “gatekeepers” (even then) they opened letters and answered calls and filtered what could get through to the decision maker. But faxes were important, so the assistant would rip your mailshot of the fax and put it under the nose of the decision maker. Again by interruption and again you told people about your product.

Then things got electronic. The internet hadn’t been invented but email had. When I joined ICL (International Computers Limited) we had this rudimentary email system called Exac. It meant you could write letters and send them to people instantly and saved the cost of the stamp. Don’t forget, email wasn’t used widely in the world. Think of it as like snapchat. Used by some people, but ridiculed by many. What was wrong with a letter and what would happen to the typing pool?  I have a friend who was paid to build a business case for email for a company, when he took it to the board, it was rejected.  Nothing could replace a letter, something you could hold in your hands.  Emails were for kids.

And nothing would replace the typing pool, those word processors were not for us!

Anyway, compuserve, Freeserve came and went and we all have email addresses.

So now we all have email addresses we just bombard people with emails about our products.  It saved the cost of the stamp.

Our eShots (everything had to start with an “e” or “I”.) now told you all about us but with an ROI figure that told you how brilliant we are and a customer quote telling you how brilliant the supplier is.

If you know of a product that has been marketed on how they are mediocre, let me know.

For us customers this has become noise. My inbox tends to go like this; Delete, delete, block, delete, block, as my eye scans for somebody I might trust. Delete, block, delete.

(I’ve started getting emails a style that were used at the start of the century, where a “CEO is in town and they would like to meet me.” I’m guessing I’m supposed to be flattered. It’s a sales pitch. Block.)

Funny seeing the emails coming from expensive marketing automation systems. “You have been on our website.” Delete.

(I went on their website to deselect them, not select them.)

Emails are still about interrupting me, amazing how far we have come technologically, but in the world of marketing it’s still forever 1930 or so it seems.

The fourth generation of Marketing is social media. Social Media is every marketers dream. We can listen to their wants and needs, people tell us everything about their lives. We can build relationships, communities, loyalty. Our conversations can recruit people, make people feel empowered to buy from us and gain referrals from customer champions. Well we could do that.

Was in a meeting recently and the sales lead said, “This is what I get from my social media manager”.

The room swirled and I was 20 again in my first sales job. Here was a load of content that talked about the company and it’s products.

What was the difference between that and the letters I wrote 30 years ago? Little. Just that the company had spent $Ms on IT to sent me the equivalent of 1970s mail shots. But of course it’s on social media.  So that makes it modern.  Digital.  I’m sorry but mail shots are mail shots whether they are delivered on letter or stone tablets or emails.

The sales leader said to me “Are you saying that pumping out corporate content through the sales guys social channels is a bad thing?”

“Yes” was our answer.

Sorry but, nobody cares about your products and company. You are not the most important person in the world. The customer is.

We now have a buyer that have self served all the knowledge they need to about your products and services. They have watched YouTube videos, read reviews, seen your price list and drawn their own conclusions.

Social is not about pumping out mailshots through your salespeople and employees. In fact you will do your brand harm. On Social like email, I can block spammers and corporate spam.  I certainly don’t follow boring corporate robots, neither does anybody else.

When I buy, I will probably buy from somebody in my network, probably from somebody who I trust. Not from the person who pitches me the fastest and greatest, but somebody who looks like they understand my business issues. Somebody I can have a relationship with and somebody who can guide me though the buying process.

Salespeople no longer need to sell, we are empowering people to buy. Our company does not make cold calls, not because of some macho egotistical thing, but because we don’t have to.

We don’t send newsletters, direct mail, pay for click PPC and our SEO pretty much takes care of itself. Why? We use social. And the return?

Daily inbound. People who have already been through a ton of research and they have come to the conclusion that (as the only and biggest social only management consultancy) in the world, and we are getting demonstrable results we are the right people to help them transform their organisation with social.

Social Selling also does not take a long time. Sorry, if anybody tells you this they don’t understand social. We introduce Social into accounts as a “quick win”. Social also allows you to get higher, quicker than cold calling for example.

Don’t believe me? DM me and we can set up a conversation about the benefits (don’t believe the naysayers) and different from the big management consultancies (who offer uplift by stripping out cost) as the benefits are new / incremental business.

People who read this also read these:

Content 2018? You’ll Need Soft Skills and Software to Succeed Next Year

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Networks

Why Some People Seem to Think Social Selling is Like Collecting Conkers

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