Having just wrapped up my exit from the agency I founded 12 years ago and moved into the consulting world, I’ve had a little time for reflection recently.
As I was recalling some of the clients I’ve worked with over the 25 odd years since I set up my first agency, and how marketing has changed so dramatically in so many ways, and yet in others, nothing’s really changed at all.
There was no such thing as digital marketing – no SEO, PPC, social media etc. – so you could be forgiven for thinking that everything is now totally and utterly different. And in some ways, of course, you’d be right. The Internet, social media and a million different marketing technology solutions have revolutionised the way we do things.
But in other ways – i.e. the fundamental principles of marketing – things really never change. And I think that, as marketers in a digital age, we sometimes need reminding of the basics. We’re very quick to jump on new and shiny things but, occasionally, we’re just as quick to forget the fundamentals.
Ignoring my pet subject of ‘content marketing’ and when it was invented – I’m pretty sure people have been doing it for a very long time before digital came along – here are a few quick examples to get you thinking…
It’s not rocket science… break down your audience into segments or personas and understand what makes them tick. Identify the right messages for each target group, and present it to that audience via a channel they actually use at the best time.
Back in the days before digital, how did we put together a marketing strategy? Well here’s what we didn’t do… start with a list of popular magazines, newspapers, radio and TV stations, throw in some outdoor advertising close to busy roads, and scatter the budget evenly between them (please tell me that’s not how you did it!).
But essentially that’s exactly what some companies do with the digital channels that are available today. Just because we have more ‘cool stuff’ available to us, doesn’t mean we have to use it all!
The advancement of technology is relentless. But, again, just because they’ve built it, doesn’t mean you have to find a way to use it! Over the years I’ve witnessed a repeating theme of companies embracing new technology because they saw something cool, got over excited and didn’t properly evaluate their actual requirements, and what benefit they would derive from the tech.
I’ve met several companies recently who have signed up to one of the all-singing, all-dancing inbound marketing software solutions or social media planning/scheduling tools at substantial cost to their business, only to realise that the platform relies on content to feed the entire process – something they’d overlooked completely – so they find themselves grinding to a halt.
One of my first clients owned a massive multi-storey department store in a pretty dodgy part of town which sold everything under the sun, from furniture to clothes and any other random job lots he’d picked up from the back of a lorry, I suspect.
At a time when authenticity (especially in the context of social and influencer marketing) is on everyone’s lips, it’s never been more important to understand your brand, and what it actually is, rather than what you’d like it to be, and carefully match your communications to your audience. You’ve worked so hard to get them to interact in some way with you – don’t let them down.
Recommendations and reviews weren’t invented for the Internet. Testimonials have always been powerful in marketing. Before the Internet, if you needed a plumber, or the roof fixing, what did you do? You may have used a directory like Yellow Pages, but you’d probably also ask around. Has a neighbour, friend or family member used someone that they can recommend?
Building in testimonials and proactively driving recommendations and referrals has always been one of the first things I’ve tried to introduce into my clients’ marketing material.
Back in 1994 we engaged a well-known cricketer to be a brand ambassador for a client. He turned up at events, and we produced a range of marketing material which featured him and the client’s product in ways that felt less like an advert and more educational. We leveraged his large fan base and trusted position to introduce our client’s product to a wider audience and make it instantly credible by association. Sound familiar?
Another buzzword hijacked by digital/content marketing in recent years is ‘storytelling’. I read an article last week in a reputable marketing publication, which started with this sentence: ‘Brand storytelling is gaining momentum in the marketing world, and with good reason.’
The same article then went on to define brand storytelling as: “Using a narrative to connect your brand to customers, with a focus on linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers.”
Um… correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that marketing principle isn’t just starting to ‘gain momentum’ in 2018!
I’m a former agency owner, strategist and head of marketing with over 25 years experience, I now work with ambitious agencies and businesses, using my experiences on both sides of the agency – client relationship to support them on their journ...