This is very much a topic that has been top of the mind with all types of industries lately, no wonder the Internet Consumer Behavior professor asked us to write about it this week. In a nutshell, I wrote that I believe marketers of these industries are learning a whole new approach to getting brand awareness out. Those that know how to do it, are killing it! Those that tinker a little…well…not so much. To summarize it, today’s marketers have the task of strategic persuasion. I talk about this with my Boomer clients all the time. The goal is now to get the public to ‘pull’ their marketing message down into the trenches vs. the prior ‘pushing’ of one’s message from 5,000 ft. What does this mean in regards to control over that message? A lot of getting comfortable with ‘losing control’…fingers crossed. Basically if the word that gets around throughout ground zero trenches where the people eat, sleep and live does not have the power of persuasion, that company’s marketing message has just failed. And the days of throwing a little bit of money at it no longer exist. Even search engines are subscribing to the fever that social media is creating. Basically, if it’s not viral, it’s dead.
I especially enjoy this climate of strategy…maybe it’s the little evil side of me rearing its face. It totally lends fair playing ground to all who wish to enter the race of brand awareness. Call it rooting for the underdogs or just plain competitive nature, I see it as a simple fundamental: All is fair in love and war. In the spirit of brand loyalty and killing the competition, my opinion is that marketing is both love and war. Earlier this year, I picked up a book called: Dirty little secrets of Buzz by David Seaman. The book is wittily written with lots of references about how to get the media to pay attention to one’s message; however, my favorite parts are especially in chapters four and five. If one is going to ever become a buzz whore, these two chapters are a must read. Not digressing I hope, just want to share some context as to where I’m going with all this. You see the name of this new game is to build it fast and dirty. The days of minding one’s p’s and q’s by romancing the press and worshiping the the budget gods are no longer necessary. If properly designed and executed, a marketing message can not only wipe out the largest contender, it can create world known fame out of thin air.
Social media has given the power back to the people. That means that no matter how high the building, plush the marble floors or padded the budget, if the people down on ground zero don’t like it, no one’s going to move that block of steel and metal. Even the precious news sources are losing leverage to the power of sophisticated village gossip. Brandrepublic.com just reported on March 10th that the most prestige news sources such as CNN and Fox are fiercely competing with news spreading across social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. People are sourcing social media outlets to learn what their sphere says before an unknown reporter breaks the news through the talking box. This alone creates a large shift for a marketer that has been accustomed to reporter attention in meeting their client’s pr needs.
The search engine game, one that was thought to be conquered and owned by the large budget conglomerates of the corporate world, is now turning a deaf ear to the high rise gods. Instead, search engines like Google and Yahoo are coming down to ground zero, observing and listening to the people. They are understanding that selling giant banner ads or key word placement is no longer the formula to maintaining interest, traffic or delivering relevant information. Instead, these popular search engines are developing added value intelligence that caters to user search patterns, offers side wikis where users can comment and discuss a website, brand, even an entire company’s culture! Search engines pay special attention to the number of times a company or brand is linked, referenced and talked about. Specialized link sharing websites such as Furl.net and Propeller.com only feed the frenzy more. Search engines are all in the name of invigorating traffic and now creating more reason for social activity ‘on their turf’. They’re buying into this new format of marketing and for those that understand the power of it then use it, it’s working.
In conclusion, I’m not out to bash or reprimand traditional marketing practices. I’ve been in this industry long enough to have great respect for the way marketing/pr protocol was organized and followed. I’m just very much a change agent that understands that without change, there is simply no growth. Like the rest of participants in the circle of life, corporate entities will need to adhere to these new growth patterns, understand that the good ol days of ‘word of mouth’ advertising are alive and well and get a major strategy in place before their competition does. And in the name of this new game of love and war, competition might be as small as a stay-at-home mom with a cool idea and lots of time on her hands. You’ve been warned.