Tag Archives: social networking

Grumpy Old Marketers

This article by Jon DiPietro originally appeared on the Domesticating IT blog and is re-posted here with permission.

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I’ve read a few blog posts recently from a tribe of people I’m going to call the “Grumpy Old Marketers.” Not because they necessarily are actually grumpy, but because their rants remind me of Dana Carvey’s “Grumpy Old Man” character from Saturday night live. Members of this group include grizzled industry veterans who insist that, “In my day, we didn’t have all this social media stuff. We spent 60 hours a week cold calling people who cursed at us and hung up on us until our ears were bleeding. That was the way it was and we liked it!”

If it stopped there, it wouldn’t deserve a rant. But one article recently set me off. The author had a sales and marketing automation system running on a Digital minicomputer back in 1982. He insists that his customers enjoyed the marketing collateral and white papers he sent, lovingly arranging them into three ring binders. In his post, the author wants us to believe that mailing brochures is the same as crafting an e-book, and pressing the flesh at a cocktail party is the same as connecting on LinkedIn. And while I agree with his central point that human behaviors are the same as they have always been, his final conclusion – and thus his advice – is simply dangerous in my opinion.

Permission Marketing

He argues that they did “permission marketing” back in 1982.

How exactly did he know when somebody no longer wanted their propaganda? Does he really think that people took the time to fill out his little postcard and mail them back to stop receiving his junk mail? Doubt it. And today’s permission marketing is all about people opting into the medium as well as the content. He had one tool – direct mail – where now, people can subscribe to email or RSS, fan pages, Tweets, SMS, etc…

Content Marketing

He argues that they did “content marketing” back in 1982.

“They [customers] received high quality, current information about products and the industry free of charge.” While this may be true, it’s like a caveman laughing at a tank saying, “We had artillery back in the stone age too! We called them ‘rocks.'” His brochures and white papers cost his company a fortune in production, printing and mailing costs. Today, I can write my own e-book with free open source software, upload it to a cloud-based host like Scribd for free, register with an affiliate sales channel for free, Tweet it, share it on Facebook and have it downloaded by a million people without spending a nickel. I can record high definition video on a $150 Flip camera and upload it to YouTube where millions more can watch it – for free.

Furthermore, his content was not discoverable. Your name had to end up in his database somehow or a colleague had to give you his/her copy. You couldn’t simply type some keywords into a brochure search engine and have it magically fly onto your desk.

I don’t think today’s low/no cost multimedia environment is anything remotely like what he’s describing.

Social Marketing

He argues that they did “social marketing” using telephones back in 1982.

Again, that version of social marketing was done on a one to one basis, where today’s version is one to thousands to millions. Apples and oranges.

Social Networking

He argues that they did “social networking” at trade shows back in 1982.

This one’s just flat out wrong. The definition of social networks today is a many to many network of producers who are also its own audience. When you’re exhibiting at a tradeshow, you are a producer and the attendees are the consumers. Period. Completely different paradigm.

Marketing “In Enfilade”

Vickers machine gun crew with gas masksHis conclusion is that marketing is “simple” and hasn’t changed at all – only the technology. I strongly disagree. When the machine gun was first introduced into warfare, they tried to use it the same as they would a rifle; head on. It turned out not to be very effective since they were so immobile. But when they figured out that moving them “in enfilade” (flanking the formation shoot along the longest axis), they created interlocking fields of fire that became the death traps in Word War I. The point is that the battle strategies had to change dramatically when they went from single shot rifles to machine guns.

Likewise, just because there are some similarities between direct marketing tactics and social marketing tactics, it doesn’t mean the strategies are the same. In fact, they are very different.

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What is Web 2.0 and Why Should it Change the Way I Do Business?

As a buzz word, you’ve probably heard the term “Web 2.0″ thrown around before. You may even have a good idea about why this is important or how it has helped you engage with B2C companies outside of the workplace. How, then, is this relevant to your business in the industrial sector? You have a company website, isn’t that enough?

Tim O’Reilly first coined the term Web 2.0 at a conference back in 2004. He defined it as a way to ‘harness collective intelligence’ and ‘the wisdom of the crowds’.

Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as:

“A site [which] allows its users to interact with each other as contributors to the website’s content, in contrast to websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them.”

Web 2.0 technologies enable a new generation of interaction on the Internet. Product reviews, forums, social networking sites, and blogs offer communication and collaboration on a new level not previously afforded to online users.

In a world where what we do, where we do it, and who we do it with is so often influenced by those around us, we can now network with peers around the world without leaving our computer. User-generated content means we can step around corporate sales pitches and draw on the opinions of others to help us make decisions instead.

Chris Jones explains the importance of such meaningful engagement:

“Many still don’t realize that the new internet – call it Web 2.0 – offers a radically different proposition: collaborating with others via an open, multi-party exchange.”

Amazon is a great example of this. Not only does the online shopping giant invite you to review items you’ve purchased through the site, but it also allows you to join relevant communities and create your own lists of recommendations for others to view.

The danger is, in our efforts not to step outside the box, we risk being left behind. Web 2.0 is not going to disappear. The Internet increasingly revolves around users and how they share information. Those online no longer solely rely on brands to feed them the information they need.

Businesses which refuse to acknowledge the Web 2.0 era of Internet technologies risk distancing themselves from those they most want to talk to. By not reaching out and affording people an online platform for their voice, companies could end up sending the message that they simply don’t care about the questions, problems, or opinions of their customers.

Using LinkedIn and Twitter, I asked how Web 2.0 and the new culture of participation have improved peoples’ experiences with businesses as consumers or otherwise. Here are some of the responses I received:

LinkedIn responses

There are lessons here for the B2B sector. Online tools which cultivate an open exchange culture enhance dialogue between companies and customers. Businesses should no longer be pushing their wares onto potentially interested parties. Instead, they must take a step back and offer the tools for people to make their own decisions.

1. Start small

Consider how you could encourage visitors to engage with the information you currently provide online. For example, could you have your website developer implement software to facilitate product reviews?

Alternatively, where are people already talking about you? Could you start a Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook account and join the conversations there?

What about niche industry forums? Don’t jump in and start pushing your product or service. Take the time to ingratiate yourself into the community by offering advice to others instead. Be honest about who you work for.

2. Consider new ways to prompt feedback

Could you start (and maintain) a company blog with comments enabled? What about a forum for your customers to discuss problems or questions? Think outside the box. What are your competitors doing? More importantly, what aren’t they doing? Be innovative.

3. Help, don’t sell

Think in terms of helping people. If you only focus on the bottom line, you’ll miss opportunities to network and engage customers and those who may, one day, become customers.

4. Be prepared for negative feedback

Realize not all the feedback you receive will be positive. Don’t be afraid of this; use it to your advantage. Don’t delete comments from frustrated customers, however tempting. Allow others to see you acknowledge you have room to improve and are doing everything in your power to do so. Be transparent. A good example of this is Domino’s ‘Pizza turnaround’ and how the company used negative feedback to improve both its product and reputation.

5. You can’t stifle the conversation

Don’t forget, whatever you do, people are talking about you anyway. They could be talking about you both offline to their peers, and online – via forums, communities, social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, blogs, and other third party websites. If you can think of ways to embrace these conversations online, you can help position yourself as a trusted source.

The question is: how much do you value what your customers have to say? And are you giving them the tools to say it? Because if you don’t, you can be sure that someone else will.

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Where’s Your Net?

This post originally appeared on Telesian Technology’s “What’s Working in Marketing” blog, which shares business-to-business (B2B) marketing insights for high tech and industrial automation manufacturers.

It’s getting a little crazy out there.  Layoffs have been happening all over the place, and it promises to continue.  Marketer’s across industries are worried about their jobs and their companies, and this usually creates a little cultural paranoia in our every day business lives. 

Everything becomes about revenue, where the dollars are coming from, and how the company can make up pieces of their widening forecast gaps.

Marketing usually gets battered, and if you’ve been in marketing for any period of time, you know the drill. Re-evaluation of budget spending, program reviews and cuts, getting down to bare bones plans that somehow, in some sort of miracle, will help the company meet their goals.   In their dreams, right?  I mean, really, we’ve all been there.  It’s not pretty and the insanity of corporate thinking can drive us marketer’s off the cliff.  Or start drinking on the way home.  One or the other.

So, given that we’ve seen messes like this, it’s time to take steps to prepare for an uncertain future.  This is not just for marketers but for anyone reading this.  I always found it interesting that people “worked” on their networks when they were in crisis, a desperate move that can sometimes come across that way.  You reach out to people you haven’t spoken, connected, or seen in a months, possibly years, and then ask them for something, some sort of help.    Or you attend networking meetings in mass, collect hundreds of business cards, and then by week 2 you are completely confused about who all these people are and what you said to them.

While there is no substitute for meeting people in person, there is something to be said for making quality contacts, and getting to know that person over time.  This allows a conversation to unfold that reveals common interests, as opposed to a “I need your help”/”Here’s how I can help you” conversation that begins and ends in an one email exchange.

It’s time to work smarter, not harder.  As we enter into cold months, we don’t feel as adventurous to experiment with many professional meetings. It’s time to Power Network, and it’s happening, right now at social networking website near you.

You’ve been hearing us talk about Social Media in the past few months, because it’s arrived hard and fast into our business and personal lives.   Social media is not only something to “learn” how it affects your marketing strategies, it’s also a golden key to meeting MANY (hundreds, thousands) people you would never EVER have met, under any circumstance before.  It’s power networking. Networking on steroids.

Expand your network across continents with hundreds (even thousands) of other like-minded folks (or not) who interest you.  And not only that, but you get to know these people a little at a time, discover what they are involved in, understand how your world intersects with theirs, and the end result is it creates a net for you to land when you need help, whenever that is.

Some networks grow organically by your contributions of thoughts and experiences such as Twitter or others like LinkedIn help you connect with colleagues from previous lives who you “been meaning to get in touch with” but lost track of their whereabouts.  These tools are there, ready for you to use.

When you are helpful, show that you care about other people, you tend to attract “followers” of people who want to know more about you.  These people show up, without alot of your direct effort – just by participating in a conversation.  Both Shari and I have been introduced to several local folks through our participation in Twitter.  We’ve then met these folks at in-person professional networking meetings, and it helps overcome those meeting “jitters” because you already know a couple folks of attending.  And you can pick up your conversation from something that happened online, you’re not starting from scratch “So, what do you do?”  … you already know.  You can have more meaningful conversations – the kind that may lead you to your next opportunity.  Fast.

So the message here is, don’t wait until something happens to you to build your network.  It’s time to Power Network, from your chair.

Building your network is important both professionally and personally, and has a positive affect on your ability to make a contribution in your organization.  You have more ideas, more resources to reach out to, and access to brilliant minds who put themselves out there daily.

So, what are you waiting for?

Photo Source: Trapeze School Boston

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