My favourite business book ever is Funky Business. Published over a decade ago it talks about how the internet has enabled people (and businesses) to mine niches much more effectively because we are all selling to a global market.
The same is true of social media, you can be famous…you can be world famous…but you need to pick your niche and you need to remember that the narrower the niche the more likely you are to be number one. This book (which I should read again) was a bestseller and made an indelible impression on my thinking around marketing and social media and I’m sure it made a similar impression on countless other people.
I can’ help thinking that as I look around me today watching the last few weeks of 2018 I might write a spoof tribute to Funky Business about how I see so many organisations market themselves…and I should call it…
Why such a damning title?
Well, because it seems to me that many organisations have become lazy in how their two most fundamental business functions, sales and marketing, operate.
In many cases marketing is still operating in the 1980s – ads, newsletters, events, sampling…and their processes for doing these things are based on trying to do the bare minimum and they pay little attention to two major things that seem to have become quite fashionable.
The Internet and Social Media.
These two technologies have totally changed the way that YOU and I research and buy everything. They shape our belief systems, our understanding of the world and the future, our expectations and our relationships. Now 54% of the people on earth have an internet connection (so that means most people in the developed world, which means pretty much everyone that you and I want to have a conversation with) and 82% of those people are active social media users. This means that of the 54% in the world with an internet connection 4 out of 5 use social and the 1 out of 5 that don’t will largely be represented as the very young or the very old. So everyone we want to engage is there.
However, many companies don’t see this revelation as a catalyst to change from sending out monthly despatches or running events. But that’s not lazy is it?
Well, I think it is. It’s lazy thinking. As things currently stands there are thousands of companies selling the same products and the buyer rarely cares about the difference. You’re “exceptional customer care” is not a USP any more, it is what the customer expects. The incredible functionality your product has makes little or no difference to the user unless they are incredibly sophisticated…which they’re probably not. Your marketing brochure or advert or email looks, to your customer, just the same as all of your competitors.
Yet, despite know this, companies persist in doing the same old stuff, even when they know it isn’t effective.
Here are two excerpts from actual conversations we had:
- Marketing Director: Our email marketing doesn’t seem work any more, neither does our advertising.
- Tim: Why not just stop doing them and do something else?
- Marketing Director: Well, the thing is you have to do the basics don’t you.
- Sales Director: Let me run through our plan for creating pipeline
- Adam: Okay
- Sales Director: We’re going to do…[and they list the activities]. What do you think.
- Adam: To me it smacks of…
- Sales Director interrupts: PANIC
- Adam: Erm yes
In both cases there was a terrible sinking feeling (from us as well as them) that the company would still keep doing these things because they had always done them. They were comfortable with the “investment” in these activities because they had long since given up trying to prove any value and now just saw pointless advertising (and other activities) as a “cost of sale.”
Each year they hand millions of dollars to their agencies because they i) believe what they agency says about “brand building” being crucial and impossible to measure, and ii) because they don’t want to grasp the nettle of actually trying to solve the problem…which is surprisingly easy if you know how. (you can see more about that here).
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