For 150 years mass marketing was about the ONLY economical way to get your message out there. If you had a better mousetrap and could gather up enough money to tell enough people, you could push it on the world and you d probably sell enough to build a good business. But mass marketing is no longer viable for most businesses today, nor is it wanted or trusted by buyers. And I ll explain why. An award winning advert from the 1950 s Let s start by turning the clock back 60 years to an award winning magazine advert. It featured a veteran buyer sitting solemnly in his chair facing the would-be salesperson and declaring:

‡I don t know who you are. ‡I don t know your company. ‡I don t know your company s product. ‡I don t know what your company stands for. ‡I don t know your company s customers. ‡I don t know your company s record. ‡I don t know your company s reputation. ‡Now what was it you wanted to sell me?
The ad concludes: Moral: Sales start before your salesman calls with business publication advertising. That classic advert was created by McGraw-Hill Business Publications, to sell print advertising. The common wisdom at the time was just to get your message out there. But things have now changed. And how.

Print advertising is in steep decline today for reasons I ll explain. But this award-winning 60-year old advert is still a great ad and it still vividly illustrates the tasks and challenges that you and everyone in business face in turning suspects and prospects into loyal customers. Or does it? While the barriers to doing business mentioned in that ad are still as relevant today as they were 50-60 years ago, buyer behavior has changed beyond recognition in recent years, making mass marketing irrelevant for most businesses. Here s why The escalation of commercial clutter The first big change was the escalation of commercial clutter. That s when we all started to be bombarded with sales and marketing messages at every turn. Where for years there were only three television channels, suddenly there were hundreds. And a similar proliferation has occurred in just about every area of the media. In his book Data Smog, Surviving the information glut, David Shenk states that the average American encountered 560 daily marketing messages in 1971. By 1996 it was estimated that the number had increased to over 3,000 messages a day, with each of us seeing more ads in a single year than people of 50 years earlier saw in an entire lifetime. Today the numbers are believed to be somewhat greater still. This continual assault of advertising and marketing messages has had a pronounced effect on buyers: There are so many messages out there that most people have become extremely adept at blocking them, tuning out all messages that aren t highly relevant; or those which take extra effort to process. They also remember ads and marketing messages less and less, if at all. And even when buyers DO remember advertising and marketing materials, their retention is scarred by cynicism or, at best, indifference. Take emails for example. The average email opening rate in early 2010 was 11%, a figure that has been falling for years. That implies that 89% of all mails are never even opened or looked at. Why? Because most of them just aren t important enough to devote any time to. And email, of course, is just one of many message delivery mediums. In other words billions of dollars, Euros, pounds and other currencies worth of marketing spend just disappears down the plug hole unseen, unwanted and unappreciated every single day. Because of this deluge of advertising and marketing messages, people are increasingly skeptical and distrustful of what they read or see. They automatically apply a discount factor to the sales and marketing messages they see and they re far more likely to make decisions based on what they hear directly from other people friends, experts, their own online research, or even salespeople. While mass advertising still has a role, it should be one of the last parts of a marketing strategy today, not the first.

These powerful pocketable computers are now the norm, not the exception. And they have made a huge difference to what can be shared. Phones, ironically, are now used less and less for phone calls and more and more for emailing, texting, searching, browsing the web, taking and sharing photographs and videos, playing games, taking notes and connecting to one another via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Your buyers can now find whatever information they want in a few seconds, wherever they are, and whenever it suits them. And that has changed their behavior yet again. We re now in an age of mass empowerment Fueled by the internet, broadband, sophisticated online search, social media, wi-fi and smartphones, we ve now entered an age of mass empowerment, where your buyers (whether you sell to consumers or B2B), are in the driving seat. You can tell them whatever you like, but they no longer accept at face value what you tell them. They can easily and instantly draw on a variety of sources for their information, balancing what they see, read and hear from multiple sources and making whatever decisions they feel are most appropriate to them. And they don t like, welcome or want unsolicited messages from you. Uninvited messages pushed out to the world may have been the norm for 150 years. But now that there are better, more personal, and more effective ways of communicating, uninvited messages are considered to be spam, and tolerance for them has plummeted. What was the norm is now unwelcome and even creates hostility. Your buyers delete irrelevant emails, block popups, filter or report spam, and surf away from sites they dislike. They just don t need these things because it s so easy today to obtain relevant information from multiple trusted sources wherever and whenever it is needed. In other words buyers are no longer at the whim of marketers. And they don t want to be. In today s age of mass empowerment your buyers decide for themselves who they re willing to listen to; speak to; or believe. They also decide if, what and when they buy. They can easily locate and speak to people who already have experience of your product or service. And if they ever have a bad experience they can tell 10,000 (or 10 million) people in an instant at the push of a button. It s a game changer of epic proportions. In a few short years these new dynamics have entirely changed both your buyers habits and the way they do business. What works today is very different to what worked only 10 years ago. And with the pace of change accelerating as never before you no longer have the option of doing business the way it used to be done. That s because with unlimited information at their fingertips wherever they are, your buyers no longer consume information or make decisions the way they did even 10 years ago. And if that doesn t already describe your current buyers, it soon will.

The barriers have multiplied If the McGraw-Hill ad at the start of this article were rewritten today, it could easily be re-stated as follows:

‡You re good at what you do ‡You take good care of your customers ‡They love and recommend what you do ‡You just need more of them ‡But your prospects don t know who you are ‡They don t know your company ‡They don t know your product or service ‡They don t know what you stand for ‡They don t know your customers ‡They don t know your record ‡They don t know your reputation ‡They re surrounded by sales and marketing messages at every turn ‡They re deluged by people who want to part them from their money ‡They re cynical or indifferent to your claims ‡They re resistant to new purchase opportunities ‡They re more and more demanding ‡They probably already have a relationship with your competitors ‡They re working harder than ever but still falling behind ‡They don t need another relationship ‡They don t have time to listen to you ‡They don t read or respond to your emails ‡They don t return your calls for months ‡THEY decide who they ll speak to, and what and when they ll buy
Now what was it you wanted to sell them?

These barriers to doing business are very real today. They also destroy the economics of mass marketing for most people in business. In addition, your best customers and clients are also your competitors most sought-after prospects this very minute and they re everywhere just waiting for you to slip up.

Marketing used to be defined in terms of 4Ps. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. But with the rise of social media there is now a 5th P, People. Good marketing today is NOT about interrupting people or blasting them with unwanted messages. Instead it is about building relationships, peer influence, trust and engagement with a self-selecting audience. That entails precise targeting; finding and focusing only on high potential prospects rather than mediocre suspects; positioning your product or service effectively in the minds of your prospects, which includes telling your story; and building sufficient trust for prospects to elect to hear what you have to say; let you into their space; and, in time, share your story with their contacts. It s no longer about sending messages to your potential clients where 98% don t want to know, but instead, as Internet Psychologist Graham Jones says, it s about encouraging them to send messages to you. Do that and you ll know precisely what s on their mind and can respond with a targeted message that s much more likely to connect giving you a dramatically greater response rate, and no redundancy. Instead of wasting time on marketing campaigns that are 98% ineffective, it s about encouraging your prospects and customers to connect with you and ask you questions so that you can respond with the exact answers they need. It wasn t easy or economical to do this on any scale in the past. But today s social media tools make it both easy and inexpensive. It s not hard to do. But it does requires a large shift in mindset, which can itself be hard. You also need to know what you re doing, and where you can combine the old ways with the new, because one slip up in what you say or how you deliver your product or service can cost you dear. Doing your best may have been enough to keep you in business in the past. But in today s age of mass empowerment you have to embrace new ways of doing things and adapt the way you do business. Then do your best. And if you don t, then I m sorry, but your competitors will eat you alive as industry after industry can already testify.

By Robert Clay, Founder and President of Marketing Wizdom, Milton Keynes, U.K. Brought to you by JD Anderson Strategic Relations

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