Blogs > Time to Listen?
May 15, 2010 Michael Bickerton
Using Social Media, SEO or any other form of Internet marketing cannot fix a product that sucks. But it can tell you whether or not the target market thinks it sucks. Of course, we must be talking about other products: yours couldn’t possibly suck with the numbers you sell. “The advertising investment and distribution channels are creating plenty of healthy sales. The economic downturn has affected us but it will pass.”
Is this just another economic downturn? What if this economic downturn is combined with a shift to a new age – a whole new mindset in business. At no other time in the history of our world have we seen a Company go from zero to the largest in the world within 10 years. Google is asking “What economic downturn?”. I was in awe when I recently read that Facebook had 200 Million users (April 14, 2009), absolutely shocked on July 10 when they announced 250 Million and scratching my head when on September 19,2009 they announced 300 million! They increased 50 Million users in 75 days, which means they added 670,000 users every single day! At a time when people were starting to speculate that they had peaked.
These numbers are unlike the numbers we have been used to dealing with in business. Google is indexing over a trillion URLs. We have indeed entered The Google Age.
All this to say now that customers can HUNT for our product (as opposed to us spending millions in advertising & promotion HUNTING for customers and hoping they remember us when it comes time to buy), we might want to stop and think about who has the power in the current consumer-to-business relationship. In the past, the only feedback the consumer had access to was how he spent his dollar. And most felt it made no difference so apathy was the order of the day. Big business dominated and big media profited.
In The Google Age they can vote with their dollar AND they can influence millions of their peers online. That is good news and bad. Now they know they can make a difference. Now, in order to do business a brand must learn a whole new marketing mindset: they must learn to be found – at the right time, saying the right thing. They must deal with individuals rather than demographic target groups. It is tempting to treat this medium (the web) like it is just another advertising medium, but early results have been, at best, all over the map. The Internet is dynamic so our marketing strategies and tactics must also be dynamic. They must be based on sound principles and objectives but we must talk with and listen to our customers. Joshua Porter makes a great point about expectations of online marketing in his blog, reinforcing the need to look at the Internet with fresh eyes.
So your brand does not end up with a bloody nose. The first step is LISTEN. Marketing people and Senior Management must pay attention to the communities that their potential consumer is engaged with. DO NOT jump in with offers and promotions grounded in the old mindset. These communities will send you home with your hat in your hand. Just LISTEN for now. When they trust you, they will always give you the keys to the kingdom.
Michael Bickerton, Raven5, 2010