I am giving a talk this afternoon at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston and here is the essence of the message I plan to deliver.
For the past 10 years or so I’ve been using this definition of marketing – Marketing is – getting someone who has a need to know, like, and trust you. With each passing year, I’ve found this non textbook definition to become more relevant. Trust is now accepted in all circles as the most important asset a brand can earn.
The Internet has so dramatically changed the game of marketing in last few years that I’ve begun to tweak my definition to make room for the significant emergence of technology and social media. And so perhaps today’s definition might start to read something more like – the targeted use of technology to co-create know, like, and trust.
In 1982, fresh out of college, I read a book by John Nesbitt called Megatrends. One of the books core points hit me like a ton of bricks and just keep coming back to me anytime I think about marketing strategy.
Consider this quote from the book (remember, this is 1982 – no commercial Internet, no PCs) – â€œThe more technology we introduce into our lives, the more we seek a hi touch balance, a human ballast.â€ Nesbitt was talking about typewriters and answering machines, but wow, the need to balance hi tech with hi touch is out of control today and presents an incredible opportunity for the marketer.
Today, trust is built when value is co-created at the intersection of hi tech and hi touch.
If that sentence above sounds like some pie in the sky, social media hugging consultant theory, understand that I’m not talking about some tactic you can use today to get more traffic to your website. I’m suggesting a fundamental shift in the way you view every strategic element of your marketing and perhaps your business.
The formula is this – determine a marketing wish, something like “I wish I could create an innovation that clearly made my business stand out.” Then as you develop your strategy ask yourself this – how can I use technology to make my engagement deeper. So, instead of using technology as a barrier or automater, you’re going to use it as a way to help your customers get more of you and more of what they want.
Here’s an example using my innovation question above. Innovation by the way is easy, help people to not have to do something they hate and you will on the right track to innovating your industry.
Joanna Van Vleck a 20 something image consultant in Bend, OR applied this strategy brilliantly, albeit perhaps, accidentally. Van Vleck consults with men on their overall look and style – clothes, hair, you name it. I can’t image a higher touch kind of business. Telling someone what color makes them look fat takes some engagement I’m thinking.
Van Vleck also bemoaned the fact that men couldn’t stand shopping for clothes. A big part of her service was to drag her customers into a clothing store and help them pick out and accessorize clothes. One day a client suggested another option. He would go get a bunch of stuff and they could meet via video chat and go over what worked and what didn’t. At first she was reluctant, but somewhere along the way the light bulb went on and the Trunk Club was born.
The Trunk Club uses web cam technology to initiate style interviews, sends clothing directly to the client, and then once again uses the web camera meetings for consultations. The technology sparked an innovation that help Van Vleck and her consultants co-create value and still maintain engagement. Oh, and in its first year the business did a little over 3 million dollars. (Look for an interview with Van Vleck on an upcoming episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast.)
Moral of the story today is this – start looking for the strategic intersections of hi tech and hi touch in every aspect of your business, apply them tactically, and prepare to blow your competition away.