For many years the traditional methods for building a brand and getting the word out about your products or services consisted of spending a lot of money on advertising campaigns and even more on a public relations firm to pitch the media on your behalf and hope for the best. Well my friend, the rules have changed. Today you have much more control over your message and who you are able to reach.
Consumers appear to have little patience with traditional advertising such as billboards, television commercials, newspaper ads and messages that pop up in taxi cabs, movie theatres and bathroom stalls. But now you have a tremendous opportunity to publish great content and connect with like-minded networks of people online to build your own buzz, establish yourself as an authority in your industry and attract more clients than ever before.
Never has there been a better time to harness the power of the Web and “Word of Mouse” to propel a brand to seemingly instant recognition and success. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you can easily turn into a household name overnight, even though to others it might appear that way. As we know from Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Tipping Point, trends that seem to come out of thin air were actually manufactured in a very strategic manner by people working diligently behind the scenes.
The new rules of marketing put the power back into your hands. You have before you an incredible opportunity to tell your authentic story the way you want it to be told. You have the ability to reach thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or even millions of people who want to hear your message. Understand these new rules and you’ll be well on your way.
1. Static vs. Fluid
The traditional methods of telling your story were static – a marketing brochure or pretty website with information about you and your company. To survive in today’s overcrowded marketplace, your marketing needs to initiate a conversation. Videos, blogs, Q&A’s, interactive tools etc. all get the conversation started between you and your target market. If you aren’t fluid enough to engage your market quickly, you will lose them to others who offer more flexibility, content and interesting options.
2. Print vs. Electronic
Gone are the days when we get all of our news and information from the newspaper and morning show. Everyone has moved online, including all of the media giants. Claim your online space now and make sure people will want to talk about it.
3. Advertising vs. Authenticity
Unless you are Coca Cola or Apple, which have established name recognition and substantial advertising budgets, it doesn’t make sense to allocate your hard-earned dollars to advertising when there are other, more effective ways to get noticed. Today’s consumer is so overwhelmed by information, that the first thing she turns off is the advertising messages. What she’s really looking for is authenticity. If your story is compelling and you are able to touch her in a meaningful way, then you are much more likely to count her among your tribe.
4. Networking vs. Connecting
While you still may be attending a weekly networking breakfast at the Chamber of Commerce and are probably making some great connections through your non-profit board, it’s just as important today to spend time connecting and networking online with groups of people who can help you take your brand and your message viral. New marketing is about moving beyond hundreds of people into the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. Resources like Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo and millions of blogs make this possible.
5. Expert vs. Authority
Anyone can call themselves an expert. However, there has never been a better time to plug into the power of the Web to go beyond the expert realm and establish yourself as an authority with your message. The powerful combination of Web content such as blog entries, videos, article submissions and more, plus a network of people to share and pass along your message, will quickly spread like wildfire to create a viral storm.
6. Word of Mouth vs. Word of Mouse
Having other people tell your story creates a domino effect to success. The power in “Word of Mouse” is in both the sheer volume of people that your message has the capacity to reach as well as the speed in which it can be delivered.
Even though the Web and all of the options available can appear overwhelming, don’t be intimidated. It’s really a matter of just starting somewhere. Pick something that resonates with you, whether it’s blogging, submitting articles online, adding video to your website or setting up a page on one of the social media sites, and just start there. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
©Liz Dennery Sanders 2010