Marketing has always been a one-sided affair – much like a mother telling her kids what to eat. The companies decide what to make, they decide how to sell it. They sit around a table and dissect the population into homogeneous groups called target audiences. Enter a bunch a of sharp-witted Wordsmiths and they craft the “messages” to suit each target audience and voila! We have a marketing campaign. All very well, this is a proven method that has earned business a lot of money in the past. It was simple, you listed and categorised all the “features” and “benefits” of your product and communicated those to the target audience. In a nutshell, the formula worked like this:
COMPANY A makes PRODUCT >>> COMPANY A finds CUSTOMERS for IT’S PRODUCT >>> COMPANY A tells customers WHY product is good for them!
In my opinion, this was a very flawed model. Enter into the media fray the Social Media platforms and the whole playing field changed. You see, traditionally, customers could only give feedback or their opinions on products via tedious Customer Surveys that had to be initiated by the company and through cumbersome Customer Care Lines (which I believe should have been more aptly named Damage Control Lines) where you would be given the bureaucratic run around until you ran out of steam and simple lost interest, or you were given some token pacifier.
Social Media is a media platform that was not created for business and while it has created many opportunities for responsive business to engage with it’s customers, those that fail to adapt are faced with increasing difficulty in implementing their product-centric marketing strategies. Add to that the wealth of information freely available on the internet, we now have an informed and empowered Customer who can challenge the company on what is being put to him. What most businesses view as a “problem” created by Social Media is in reality an advantage because it takes away the risk of creating unwanted products. The paradigm changes to:
COMPANY A engages with it’s CUSTOMERS >>> COMPANY A creates PRODUCTS to address needs of CUSTOMERS.
When creating a marketing strategy for your business / product, you have to realise that marketing is no longer about creating a narrative about YOUR product and convincing people that they need it, but rather, engaging with your customers and imparting your passion about your area of expertise in order to CREATE products FOR your customers. The days when business “knew what’s best for the customer” are over. Whatever you sell, strategise to ENGAGE and LISTEN. You may EDUCATE but never MANIPULATE or DECEIVE!
Seth Godin, one of my favourite marketing gurus, has a very simple way of putting it. He says “Think like an artist”. See infographic below:
– Entrepreneur, marketer, strategist, speaker, creative.
Founder & CEO of Stratsmith Marketing Solutions
Follow him on Twitter: @msalili