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47 Marketing Is Most Certainly Not Dead

There’s a renewed meme going around these days about marketing being dead somehow. Well, to paraphrase Mark Twain – the reports of the death of marketing are greatly exaggerated.

photo credit: trawets1 via photo pin cc

Look, the landscape in marketing has been rapidly shifting over the last ten years and mostly because consumers now have the ability to better control, block and share the messages they consume. I’ll grant you that bad marketing is dead, lame marketing is dead, one way marketing is dead, broadcast marketing is dead, shouting is dead, and ignoring your customers is dead.

The thing is, these things have always been dead, but it used to be that if you pushed enough money at them you could make them work a little.

Two articles in the last year, both titled Marketing Is Dead, (dead 1 and dead 2) seem to suggest that all of a sudden educating prospects, building communities, and exchanging value is, first and foremost, not marketing and, this is the amusing part, somehow a new concept.

I find it most ironic that dead 1 was written by an executive of a book publishing company – an industry on the brink of extinction due to a seeming unwillingness to keep up with this new world of marketing he describes.

The success of most every business book in the last ten years is due in large part to the author’s platform or ability to use the forms of marketing that this industry executive has now chronicled in his own successful book. So, I’m at a complete loss as to how he concludes marketing is dead.

The second, dead 2, was published in the Harvard Business Review and for proper context on the irony of this one I’ll turn to my friend Mitch Joel.

This is the kind of talk that comes from people that have never really understood what marketing is. They find in social networks where they can generate lots of fans or they can build a readership for their blog, but crossing the chasm to where you turn that tribe into paying customers most certainly takes marketing by the boatload.

In my first book, Duct Tape Marketing, again ironically published by the publishing company I alluded to above, I shared a definition of marketing as – getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you.

That’s what marketing is and always will be.

I meet on a quarterly basis with some of the most brilliant marketers in the world and I’m here to tell you marketing is not dead. These folks understand, and always have, the power of building a tribe, but they further understand how to turn that relationship into millions and millions of dollars of revenue and it’s a science.

There’s no question that marketers still playing the old game with the old tools are now finding their careers and businesses in peril.

But, there’s a strong and vibrant army of marketers that have always learned and adapted to each impending change. These are the people that have long understood the value of blogging, have long understood the value of educational content, have long understood how to integrate social with email, have long understood how to segment and match leads, and have long understood it’s all about the community.

Now, you can use the science and art of marketing for evil or for good, but suggesting that marketing is dead is one of the most naive claims I’ve ever heard.

22 7 Steps To Sure Fire Marketing Success

Here’s my take on business.

Every business is simply a set of systems and marketing just happens to be the most important of these systems.

Few business owners have trouble thinking in terms of business systems for things like building their product, paying the bills, providing a service, hiring an employee – all the operations kind of things.

When it comes to marketing, however, all systems thinking comes to a halt, because “that’s a creative art,” that vexes even the most seasoned entrepreneur types.

Fact is, marketing is indeed a business system and approaching and operating it as such helps to remove any and all mystery about its function in your business and allows you to create consistent, predictable results from the operation of your marketing system.

Below are the seven elements that make the creation of your personalized marketing system a snap.

1) Commit to Strategy Before Tactics

Until you can narrowly define the exact person, business or problem that constitutes your ideal client and uncover a way to communicate a truly unique point of differentiation to said ideal client, your business will fall prey to the marketing tactic of the week syndrome.

When you have a clear sketch of who you must attract and a clear message that allows you to communicate why your product or service produces greater value than every other option, you don’t have a marketing strategy.

Do not pass go until your business possesses an authentic marketing strategy. Once you do, you then must commit to using that strategy as the filter for every marketing decision that follows – including product/service mix, pricing, identity elements, customer service and hiring. You can find more on my approach to marketing strategy here.

2) Map Your Marketing HourglassTM

The marketing funnel approach of loading lots of leads into a marketing process aimed at squeezing a few through the small end is fundamentally broken these days.

Yes, you still need to get in front of prospects, but the greatest source of lead generation these days is a happy customer. The idea behind the hourglass shape is that as you gain a customer you immediately go about intentionally turning that customer into a referral champion.

You accomplish this by mapping out all the products, services and processes required to move a prospect through the seven phases of the Marketing Hourglass: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.

Simply take a high level look at your business today and map out all of the current and potential touchpoints opportunities your have with prospects and clients and fill the gaps with marketing driven experiences. You can find more on the Marketing Hourglass here.

3) Create a Content Road Map

The term content conjures up a great deal of frustration with business owners, mainly because it’s vague enough to be misinterpreted and cited by experts enough to create exhaustion.

The idea of content in marketing isn’t simply a generic way to refer to your need to blog, it’s a strategic approach to creating the assets your business needs to communicate strategy and facilitate lead generation and conversion.

With that description in mind, you need to view your approach to content creation much like a publisher armed with an annual table of contents, otherwise known as a list of important keyword search phrases.

Your content creation plan must be very intentional and must be installed as an ongoing practice instead of viewed as a one-time event. Your plan must include provisions for content that builds trust, content that educates, customer generated content, other people’s content and content that converts. You can find a deeper discussion of these five types of content here.

4) Build a Total Web Presence

No longer is it enough to build a Website and expect to compete these days. Prospects, even those that are looking to do business locally, turn to search engines to find every kind of business and solve every kind of problem.

Today’s marketers need to approach the Web with an eye on creating the largest presence possible in order to stand out, or merely show up, when a prospect goes hunting for a solution.

Building an online listening station, optimizing brand assets in sharing services, claiming valuable social and local network real estate, participating in ratings and review sites, and maximizing social media activity are the foundational elements of total web presence building.
This is how you begin to make your content strategy pay. This is how you begin to activate the know, like and trust elements of your Marketing Hourglass.

5) Mix and Match Your Lead Generation

Active lead generation comes about through multiple touches initiated through multiple channels.

There is rarely one dependable way to generate all of the leads a business might require to meet objectives. It’s the careful blending of advertising, public relations and systematic referral generation that creates the repetition, credibility and control needed to get a prospect motivated enough to pick up the phone or schedule an appointment.

The key to making this blended approach work, however, is the commitment to valuable, education-based content distribution. Advertising that promotes content gets viewed, a referral made by way of content gets action, and PR generated by way of content gets shared.

6) Orchestrate a Lead Conversion Process

If you’ve followed the steps outlined so far in this system, your prospects aren’t really sold so much as they become ready to buy. In order to continue the experience your marketing has promised to date you must also give intentional marketing driven consideration to the steps in your lead conversion process.

What is your systematic response when a prospect requests more information? What is your systematic method for communicating how you deliver value? What is your plan to nurture leads in your hourglass? How will you orient a new customer? What is your plan for measuring the results a customer actually received?

A fully developed lead conversion process doesn’t consider a sale complete until the customer receives the expected result.

7) Live by the Calendar

The basic premise behind the notion of a system is continuous operation. You can’t build a marketing system and hope to be done at some point.

There are elements that you may build and use continuously, but the fact is that operating your marketing system must become habit.

You must map out a year’s worth of projects, campaigns and processes and break each month into a theme, each project into weekly action steps and each day into right marketing activity.

By creating a marketing vision that is scheduled and calendared you create the framework that allows everyone in the organization to participate and see in very tangible ways the path that the organization, and perhaps more specifically the marketing system, is intended to trod.

1 Know, Like, and Trust – You need them all to make the sale

Too many small business owners focus most of their attention on single event lead generation promotions.

The most effective lead generation comes from the careful combination of many tactics, but I have found that no lead generation strategy is complete until it weaves the use of advertising (know), public relations (like), and referrals (trust) around a unified message or brand.

It is the momentum and cumulative impact of presenting your message in each of these arenas that eventually allows you to cut through the clutter and become the provider of choice to a market.

Each area is equally important to your overall success and each area must receive the attention needed to let your market know you are serious about earning their business.

So, how does your current lead generation system measure up?