Gone are the days of brands telling people what to think. The consumers of today want their voices heard loud and clear – and are using the Internet as their platform.
Marketing has “changed tremendously” says Shelly Kramer, a marketing and brand strategist and founder of V3 Integrated Marketing, a Kansas City-based social media agency.
“It used to be that brands stood up on a hill and broadcast to their audience,” says Kramer, citing billboards, TV, radio, newspaper, print and magazine advertising.
“(Brands) told people what they wanted to know and they told people what they should do.”
That idea went the way of the dinosaurs.
“(The Internet) has become a place to learn and connect and engage and grow and opine and lament –and everything else,” says Kramer.
As a result, “people have said, I want a voice because my voice matters and I am going to use my voice, whether you like it or not.”
Today’s brands coming out on top are “actively listening to what their customers are saying and acting on what their customers are saying and engaging with their customers,” says Kramer.
That idea of engaging with customers is exactly what Scott Stratten, marketing expert and president of Un-Marketing.com, is all about. Stratten’s book about his marketing philosophy comes out in the fall 2010.
His Ontario-based company is devoted to authentic marketing and features the tagline, “stop marketing and start engaging.”
“The whole Un-Marketing world is about building relationships,” explains Stratten.
Stratten, like Kramer, has seen marketing evolve. He explains that particularly in the past few years, marketing has changed from press releases or cold-calling to a venue where voices are heard, loud and clear.
“Your market has been given a voice and a platform,” says Stratten.
“With blogs and Facebook and Twitter, with social media in general, it creates two things in the market place: immediacy and relevancy.
“Everybody’s voice is relevant. You can no longer ignore unhappy customers or your competition.”
Kramer says consumers want a personal connection.
“They want the brands that they work with to acknowledge their voice. They want to be involved. They like to be listened to.”
The days of brands telling consumers what they should do has been replaced. Today’s generation of consumers tells brands what they think. So how can MOMeos take advantage of the online world of marketing?
“The same rules apply to small business that applies to a big business,” says Kramer.
“Social media isn’t the answer. Marketing is the answer.”
Kramer says having a strategic marketing plan and asking yourself important questions are vital for any business.
Those questions include: what do I stand for? What is my product? Where are my prospective customers? Who’s my target audience? And where can I find them?
“Those are the questions that you ask yourself, big brand or small brand,” says Kramer, who has over 20 years of marketing experience.
“Then you create a strategic marketing plan based on the answers to those questions.”
Kramer says there is no strategy that fits every business – while some companies may find their audience on Facebook, others simply won’t.
For those whose businesses will benefit from social media, Kramer has an 80/20 per cent rule.
“Eighty per cent of what you do in the social media world should be about other people – reading blogs, sharing links, answering questions,” explains Kramer.
“Twenty per cent should be talking about you.”
Stratten also has similar tips for MOMeos eager to take advantage of social media:
“I think one of the biggest mistakes is (people) always push messages out and they don’t take anything in. They do a lot of talking and no listening. They use social media as a dictation platform, rather than an engagement platform.”
Lisa Nelson is a MOMeo who’s used social networking to market her online health business, eNutrition Services. She’s seen first-hand the benefits of engaging with customers.
“I have gained many new subscribers/clients from social networking, so it is integral part of my overall marketing plan,” explains Nelson, a registered dietician and mother of two.
“(A) plus to social networking is it allows potential clients to get to know me outside a professional setting. (It) helps provide credibility that I’m a real and trustworthy source when we may never actually meet face-to-face.”
Stratten says in today’s world of social media and marketing, moms have a built-in advantage.
“I think moms probably have one of the greatest tool kits for the new way to market because it’s all about community and relationships,” says Stratten.
“It doesn’t take a huge budget to do it; it just takes the understanding of how to build relationships.”