The demise of direct mail, e-mail marketing, print advertising, brochures, newsletters—I can’t even remember all of those doomed traditional marketing devices—has been announced for a long time. Even marketing itself has been declared dead.
A wake-up call, folks: none of these is dead, not even close.
To start from the top, marketing is not dead. BAD marketing is dead. That’s a good thing. When I started my career at Anderson & Lembke (yes, those who were in the end swallowed by Chiat/Day in the US) in the mid-1980s, we already knew what was good marketing and what was bad marketing. It amazes me no end that these at least 30-year-old truths are now being rehashed and offered as something only the holy New Technologies or revered Social Network Gurus have been able to bring about.
In those days, we didn’t have social networks in today’s sense. A social network was the circle of people someone was in frequent touch with, just as today, but it was done face-to-face.
Today, the face-to-face is more like screen-to-screen. That’s also a good thing. We can now all be in touch with a far wider circle of people through our computers.
Yet, the marketing truths of time immemorial (in the internet/social media sense) still hold.
1. Provide value to your audience
One of the things I remember vividly from almost day one is the axiom “The seller doesn’t sell, the buyer buys.” Amazing, isn’t it? This almost 30 years ago and in a remote northern corner of Europe some people still haven’t even heard about. In marketing, you have to provide a solution to your prospect’s problem, not sell something you have your warehouse full of.
2. Talk to the right audience
Find your prospect’s pain point (although in those faraway days, it was called a “problem” or “need”). Find the industries who might have that problem. Find companies within that industry who do have the problem. Find the people within the companies who are responsible for getting the problem to go away. No rocket science. Some people make a living out of this so-called revelation today, but alas, it was invented a long time ago…
3. Be timely, don’t pester
Ah yes, we didn’t talk about “customer touchpoints” or “sales funnel” back then—how old-fashioned. But we knew we had to create content… oops, now I’m again getting ahead of myself… ads and brochures and direct-mail pieces separately for potential buyers who were in search of a solution, had pinpointed a solution but were unsure of whom to buy it from, wanted our solution but wanted to make sure it was a good one and didn’t get them fired. We also knew we couldn’t send DM (that’s not a Direct Message, in those days it referred to Direct Mail) pieces to these people 7 days a week unless we wanted to totally alienate them from our company.
There’s no denying that social media are a huge addition to a marketer’s arsenal. Still, they are just that: an addition to the arsenal. Just as the invention of ballistic missiles didn’t make artillery obsolete overnight, the traditional marketing devices are still as valuable as they’ve always been.
Of course, social media are the newest “shiny thing”, so everybody is rushing to adopt them. However, if you’re a marketer, or selling services to marketers, you shouldn’t be blinded by the shine. By all means, add new things to your marketing strategy and mix, but only if they add to the outcome, not at the cost of something that’s been proven to work for decades, if not centuries.