Imagine that you could continue to market successfully the same way for ten years. Do you like that thought? Well delete that daydream because it just isn’t so. Welcome to marketing 2008. It’s more threatening, more promising and more exciting. Buckle your seatbelt, take your motion sickness pill and be prepared to be amazing. Because that is what you need to compete today.
 
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What a Difference a Decade makes to Marketing


Imagine that you could continue to market successfully the same way for ten years. Do you like that thought? Well delete that daydream because it just isn't so. Welcome to marketing 2008. It's more threatening, more promising and more exciting. Buckle your seatbelt, take your motion sickness pill and be prepared to be amazing. Because that is what you need to compete today.

Still the Same
Of course some things remained the same. Let's establish our foundation before we venture into the swirl of the Time Tunnel.

The fundamentals are the same. That's what makes them fundamentals. Marketing is still closely intertwined with selling and the purpose of marketing is to help you sell more. Marketing and selling are both strategies to help you make a profit. In fact marketing was and is a fundamental responsibility running through every function of your business.

"Marketing is so basic that it cannot be considered a separate function. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the client's point of view."
Peter Drucker

Strange that even though management guru, Peter Drucker, offered that advice more than a decade ago - many organizations ignored his wisdom. That's why we still see marketing departments and sales departments with little cohesion and cooperation. Why? Perhaps too many marketers see themselves as artists or statisticians while they see sales representatives as slimy. And the sales department labels marketing as a bunch of flakes who don't know about the real world.

The purpose of marketing is to do one or more of the following three things:
     1. Grab attention
     2. Demonstrate value
     3. Build relationships

The world is still round - or is it now flat? How is the "How" of those fundamentals changing?

Grab Attention
Grabbing attention has always been a prime concern for marketers. Your message needed to defeat the noise of all the other marketers.

In 1998, if you had a huge marketing budget, the place to be was TV and the grand dame was the Super Bowl game at $1.3M for a 30 second spot. Of course ad production costs were extra. The top three ads that year were for Tabasco, Pontiac and Doritos. Do you wonder how many Doritos they needed to sell to pay for that ad? Oh yeah, Denver triumphed over Green Bay.

The Super Bowl is still the place for marketers with multimillion dollar budgets costing $2.6M for 30 seconds in 2007. But the holy grail of marketing today might more likely be to appear number one on a Google search. You don't need millions to triumph.

Demonstrate Value
Value was once demonstrated with celebrity endorsements, quality awards and longevity in the business.

Today client testimonials carry more weight than celebrities. Quality awards and certifications are so common that they have become ho-hum. Depending on your industry, a long time in business could be three years. We're more interested in the results that you achieved for your recent clients. If you want to demonstrate value be sure to offer a free trial or money back guarantee - without the weasel word clauses.

Build Relationships
Relationship building is more important today. Prove to your clients why they should buy from you - every time. Brand loyalty was once given blindly to sellers. Loyalty didn't die. It shifted. Loyalty is now bestowed more on our friends and family which is why client testimonials become more convincing. And why networking is so much more powerful.

Changes and Trends
Some trends have been going on for longer than the past decade - but they are easier to notice now. We realize that both selling and marketing are more science than art. Sales representatives are no longer allowed to wing it. Of course both sales and marketing staff were being well trained by successful companies before 1998. But the integration of these activities is more evident in today's training and daily activity. Today you are also more likely to see the large corporations training their sales reps with marketing skills and integrating marketing folks into the front lines. To be competitive small and medium business must convert all staff into marketers. And it will take more than a memo!

Technology
Technology in the form of computers, software and mobile devices has had a huge impact on how we market. The tsunami of influence is the Internet which has presented marketers with new challenges and incredible opportunities.

Mobile Devices
The proliferation of cell phones and Blackberries mean that clients expect to reach you anywhere and any time. In order to compete it seems that you need to be more available and respond faster than your competition. Be careful because that mentality can lead to the worship of instant satisfaction which results in more mistakes, distracted professionals and grumpy people. Too many are adapting their process to suit the tool - instead of using tools to improve the process. Warning Will Robinson!

Database Marketing
The fifth chapter in Secrets of Power Marketing is about using your database. In 1998 small business had access to PC based contact managers including ACT, Maximizer and Goldmine. Today you need to build on those fundamentals with a CRM (client relationship manager) system and integrate your data between your computer, mobile device, email and website forms.

Networking
Building Relationships is explained in the second chapter of Secrets of Power Marketing. Because of our increased emphasis on building relationships networking activity has exploded both offline and online. We see this in the growth of specialized networking groups and events. Business Networking International (BNI) a lead sharing group has over 5,000 chapters in 36 countries. Online enhancements include social networking websites like Facebook.com, MySpace.com and Bebo.com plus the business oriented service Linkedin.com. For more networking tips visit NetworkingExposed.com.

Email
In 1998 folks were exploring the use of email through internet providers AOL and CompuServe. Coincidently the number one movie of 1998 was "You've Got Mail". Today not having email would be like not having a fax machine in 1998. But today it isn't enough just to have email. You must have an email address with a professional domain. Using a free email address is acceptable for your personal life - but not for business. If you are still using Yahoo, MSN, Gmail or AOL for business you are looking amateurish - or stuck in 1998.

Websites
My first website www.Torok.com launched in 1999 when very few small businesses had websites. In those days you were special if you "had" a website. Websites looked like your printed brochure - hence the name "brochure sites".

It is no longer remarkable to have a website. In fact you must have a website and it must be remarkable just to compete. It's as necessary as a phone or business card even if you don't sell on the Internet. Why? Because clients want to check your site before they call or visit you. Your website needs to grab them, identify what you sell in the first five seconds - or they will leave your website. Then you need to engage them, offer them what they seek, do it quickly and capture their contact information for your database. Read my article "Is your website working hard enough for you?" originally published in the April 2006 issue of Enterprise magazine. Today the question is not "Should you have a website?" The question is "How many websites should you have?"

Informing your clients
A decade ago the way to train, educate and inform your clients was to hold seminars or mail them a printed newsletter. Both still work but are expensive compared to the new alternatives. Today you might inform them with an opt-in email newsletter, articles and FAQs on your website, posting on your blog, and holding teleseminars and/or webinars.

Today everyone on the Internet can be a publisher via their own websites, blogs, article sites and forums. You need to be out-communicating your competition. You might expect your competition to compete with your message but also watch for damaging exposure from disgruntled clients or employees.

Marketing Research
Gathering Market Intelligence is easier for you, your competition and your clients. You might want to reread that last sentence and think about the implications. Take advantage of the opportunity. Using search engines you can learn about your competition and their offerings. Use "Google Alerts" to stay informed of daily mentions on websites, blogs and news sites of your name, your product name, your industry and your competition. If you are not yet receiving these Google Alerts - you might be missing news about what others are saying about you and your industry. Go to Google and register for this free service. Ignorance is no excuse.

Test opinion by visiting groups and forums on major sites such as Google and Yahoo or on industry websites. Conduct polls on your website or hold a survey with SurveyMonkey.com.

Client Service
Lots of opportunity here. We still seem to be struggling with customer service. Some shine while others annoy. I experienced a good example of good customer service today when I bought a coffee from Starbucks. I ordered my "small regular coffee". I refuse to speak their language - no 'tall latté" for me. The staff still smile at me, deliver what I want and thank me as they give me my change. Compare that to the hordes of sales staff that seem to expect you to thank them for giving them your money. And they don't thank you for your business. So I pay the $1.75 for the Starbucks coffee and feel good because of the friendly service. I don't get that consistently from Tim Hortons.

Advertising
The traditional mass marketing avenues - print, radio, TV and signage are suffering from a lot of competition from Internet marketing. Take note of how many TV ads attempt to drive viewers to websites. When you are advertising with those traditional media be sure to enquire about how they will support you on the web. Get them to republish your ad or listing on their website with a live link to your website. At a recent presentation I noticed that the front of the lectern not only displayed the name of the facility but their website address as well. Today any marketing you do must be integrated across the delivery channels.

Media Exposure
Don't give up on the traditional media for your advertising or media exposure. Chapter three of Secrets of Power Marketing explains how to get and leverage your media exposure. Use Google Alerts to stay on top of breaking news and media opportunities. A decade ago you could fax or mail your news release. Today all editors are reachable by email for "letters to the editor" (read "Dear Editor" in the January 2007 issue of Enterprise) and news releases. Use online new release services. PRBuzz.com is a free service. Or register with PRLeads.com to be informed of media needs for experts. There is no excuse for you and your business not to be featured in the media regularly.

Ebay
There's a new sheriff in town. As a marketer you better be aware of the biggest consumer market in the world - Ebay. Every day Ebay transacts over $100 M. Over 730,000 people earn their primary or secondary income on Ebay. It went public in 1998 and this 10 year old has grown. You can't ignore an elephant that big. It might move into your market or perhaps it already has. This is entirely new territory for marketers - so new that my best advice at this time is to watch it, study it and be prepared to jump on opportunities. When was the last time you searched Ebay for your product? Or threats to your product, your market or your clients?

Search Engine Marketing
This is a completely new side to marketing that did not exist a decade ago. If you want your website to be found by people you must rank high in the search engines - specifically Google, Yahoo and MSN. The two approaches are pay-per-click and natural listings. Pay-per-click means that you buy a paid ranking and you pay when someone clicks on your ad. It is a simple way to pay for leads. Or you apply Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make your website naturally show up high in the search engines.

As you can see it is an exciting time for marketing. There are both new threats and opportunities. Are you reviewing your marketing strategy and tactics to better prepare yourself for the year ahead? Are you equipped to be amazing?

© PM12 George Torok is the coauthor of the national bestseller, Secrets of Power Marketing. You can read an excerpt from the book at www.PowerMarketing.ca. Get your free Marketing Tune-up at www.MarketingTuneUp.ca. Marketing expert, George Torok is available for speaking engagements and media interviews at www.Torok.com

PS: This article was originally published in the January 2008 10th anniversary issue of Enterprise Magazine. George Torok was featured on the cover of that special issue.


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© George Torok is co-author of the bestseller, "Secrets of Power Marketing: Promote Brand You". He is author of the ebook, "Your Guide to Networking Success". To order your copy of this networking guide or learn more visit www.NetworkingExposed.com. To receive your free copy of "50 Power Marketing Ideas" visit www.PowerMarketing.ca.