Why Traditional Marketing Still Works in the Digital Age

iStock_000009603802SmallAs you know, marketing in one format or another, has been in existence for a long time. It evolved from the simple trade era where raw resources were exchanged, through the mass production and sales eras to the emergence of the marketing department and marketing company era where business realized that they exist to meet the needs of customers and that everyone in the company has a role in delivering value to these customers. This modern era of marketing likely began in the mid-20th century when competition for marketplace share increased and companies had to work harder to sell their products to consumers; and is still very much in play today.

According to Phil Kotler, one of the world’s leading marketing experts and author of over 55 books on the subject, “marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.  It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services”.

He goes on to say, “Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make.  Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value.  It is the art of helping your customers become better off.  The marketer’s watchwords are quality, service, and value.”

He also makes a distinction between marketing and selling. “Selling starts only when you have a product.  Marketing starts before there is a product.  Marketing is the homework the company does to figure out what people need and what the company should make.  Marketing determines how to launch, price, distribute and promote the product/service offering in the marketplace. Marketing then monitors the results and improves the offering over time”.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because the principles of marketing are still very relevant in today’s digitally oriented environment. While communication technologies such as social media have dramatically changed the landscape and how we do things, the core concepts of marketing remain in place; with the tools and communication channels we use constantly evolving.

To illustrate my point, Eric Rasmussen, Vice-President of Consumer Insights at GroupOn summarizes where his priorities lie: “I think it all goes back to really knowing your customer and understanding the intersection of what you can offer and what they want – then delivering that in the best possible way. I think segmentation is the key ingredient to personalization and targeting.” This approach is clearly using marketing to identify core customers and products that will appeal to them.

While I have been discussing the business side of marketing, these concepts hold true in the public and non-profit sectors as well. If you take the above definitions and replace the word profit with impact or generating sustainable revenue or even affecting social change, the principles of marketing very much apply to these sectors. Marketing is clearly taking a foothold in these sectors as organizations of all types adopt a more strategic approach towards their business.

The bottom line is no matter the new technologies and channels marketers have at their disposal, the goal is the same: Understand the customer, figure out who wants what, and give it to them. It`s that simple. An effective marketing strategy lays the groundwork for tactical execution such as social channels, face-to-face marketing or advertising.

This is why events like MARCOM (June 13-15, Ottawa) are so important for the public and non-profit sectors. The learning content at MARCOM combines the traditional principles of marketing with the latest enabling technologies such as social media to give a well-rounded view as to how these sectors can use marketing principles to better meet their objectives and serve their customers.

Marketing has been around for a long time and will continue to offer a powerful set of tools for understanding the markets you serve, segmenting audiences, establishing products or services that people want, delivering these products at the right time and place and at the right price and measuring progress. While tactics might change, the principles of marketing are as sound today as they were 50 years ago.

Later, BC

5 Game Changers in Marketing and Sponsorship…and why you need to pay attention

As a fan of marketing and sponsorship, I’m amazed how quickly these environments (and disciplines) have changed in the last few years. Some of the changes have happened overnight, while others seem like they’ve been more gradual. In any case, we’re working with a new set of rules and if you’re focusing on a marketing or sponsorship model that’s 5 or 6 years old, you’re likely considered “old school” (scary, isn’t it?).

Here are five key “game changers” that are influencing the way we market our organizations or products or the way we recruit sponsors.

Impact of Technology and Social Media

Simply put, social media and other collaborative technologies have changed everything, from the way we connect with colleagues and friends to how we purchase goods and services to how we build our business. Today’s smart marketers realize that to build online awareness and brand equity, your presence needs to go way beyond your web site. As an example, when’s the last time you typed in a web site address? The simple fact is that if you are not building social media and other digital engagement strategies into your marketing or sponsorship plans, you are missing a key ingredient in your marketing mix and one of the main elements that sponsors look for in benefits packages.

The Power of the Customer

The balance of power has shifted from governments, corporations and other organizations to where it belongs – with the customer. As consumers, we have more choices than ever before on almost every aspect of our lives. Just look at the choices you have on where/how to shop, get an education or loan, spend our leisure dollars or even receive health care. What this means for most organizations is that we now have to EARN the business and loyalty of our customers.

The Importance of Branding and Positioning

With all the competition for “mind-share”, every organization needs to stand out favourably from the competition. Articulating what makes you different (positioning) and reinforcing your organization’s or product’s attributes (branding) day-to-day is paramount to your customers finding you and sticking with you. Despite this, many organizations are stuck on “being everything to everyone” and wonder why they don’t appeal to anyone; and many organizations are still stuck on their logo vs. what effective branding is all about. In short, your brand defines you in the market and if you are not being proactive in this area, someone else will influence your brand for you.

The Selling Cycle

In the “old days”, when someone wanted to buy from you, they looked up your name in the phone book (remember?) and called you or visited your place of business to learn more about what you had to offer and you usually started by providing basic information about your program, product or service. Today, they know a lot about you before they contact you. The problem is that you don’t know what they know (or believe) when they initially contact you and this complicates the selling process significantly. For example, if someone contacts your organization about a sponsorship opportunity, chance are that they’ve done their homework through online or social media channels and already have a preconceived notion of what they’re getting into. To be effective, you need to quickly understand where they are in the decision-making process and adapt your presentation to their needs, otherwise you risk losing them.

The Need to Re-Position Sponsorships

All of the above factors have created a need to re-position sponsorships from the traditional “awareness” benefits to a more sophisticated marketing medium. Marketing has changed dramatically and what companies are looking for in a sponsorship environment has also changed. In order to recruit the kinds of sponsors you want or need, you need to help them address the challenges they’re facing in today’s highly competitive and complex marketing environment.This means demonstrating how your sponsorships can help them build brand equity and connect with their customers in real ways.

I’ll be discussing these and other “game changers” in my upcoming fall Sponsorship Workshop Program. Click on Upcoming Workshops at the top of the page for more details.

Later,                                                                                                                                                     BC