Alan and I spent a most enjoyable evening on Saturday (11th June) attending the Celebratory Dinner commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Department of Marketing, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Alan graduated from the Department in 2000 with a Master’s Degree in International Marketing. Prior to taking early retirement in June of last year, I had spent 27 enjoyable (eventful :-)) years teaching in the Department, initially Export Marketing and International Business, and from 1996 e-Marketing and Customer Management.
Established in 1971, under the leadership of Emeritus Professor Michael Baker, the Department has long been recognised as a Centre of Excellence in marketing learning and research. Thousands of graduates from the Department have made, and are making, excellent professional contributions in organisations around the world – see http://www.marketing2011.org/
The theme of the evening was ‘40 Years of Pioneering Leadership’. This got us thinking what ‘pioneering leadership’ in marketing would be like over the next 40 years. Given that social media years are like dog years, this translates into the next 40 weeks in a SM environment
We were just about to prepare a blog post on this when we came across an excellent and very recent article by Michael Stelzner (founder of Social Media Examiner). The article, entitled ‘Rest In Peace Marketing: I Never Really Liked You Anyway’ offers a number of perceptive insights.
A key point summary is presented below:
- Social and selling just don’t mix – The last thing anyone wants in a social context is a commercial or to be sold to
- It’s time for change – Marketing needs to transform itself from ‘promoting’ products and services to more of a relationship based approach. Marketing should no longer be about making an offer that attracts people by delivering the right message to the right people at the right time using the right channel. This, according to the author, is the equivalent of treating people like fish – ‘cast the right bait and they will bite’. There are strong factors working against this type of approach. Factors that require people to be treated like humans not fish.
- People are tuning out – Due to channel overload, people are ‘tuning out’. Fewer than one in three people trust marketing messages yet building trust is more important than delivering great products and services. Do your prospects and customers trust you?
- Focus on people – If great products alone won’t gain the trust of consumers, what will? If no one is paying attention to sales messages what can your business do to gain the attention and respect of people? The answer is to connect and engage with customers. Focus on people, meet their needs, solve their problems, provide insight that delivers real customer value.
- Content as the enabler – Engaging content is the key to achieving rapid growth. The author explains this in more detail using his Elevation Principle – Great content PLUS other people MINUS marketing messages EQUALS growth! The original article provides a detailed explanation of the Elevation Principle, together with a very useful graphic well worth viewing
- Change the question from “What can we sell you?” to “How can we help you?” Instead of investing in advertising, invest in creating content, experiences, gathering places and communities where people who need help can find it. Instead of relying on traditional marketing channels, become the center of your industry, niche or local market. When that happens, according to the author, you launch an unstoppable growth trajectory.
The sentiments expressed in Michael’s article (and we would strongly recommend reading the full version) match exactly our own thinking about social media. During our numerous workshops, we spend a good deal of time covering the ‘Key Things to Remember about Social Media’. Even although many of our participants arrive wanting to know 'how to build a successful facebook, twitter etc channel', we never apologise for spending time making sure that they are in the right ‘mindset’ for social media success. 'Be social before doing social'.
The key points we make are as follows:
- It’s called social media because its social
- Social media represents a major power shift to customers, to the network. Recognizing and accepting this power shift is the cornerstone of future success
- Traditional approaches to sales, marketing and PR are much less effective in a social media environment. Does anyone listen to sales/brand messages anymore?
- In social media, the customer decides what information they wish to access
- New ‘mindsets’ are required where marketing is seen as a two-way conversation with your customers/your network– dialogue not broadcasting. This is something that most of us are not very good at doing. We prefer ‘telling’ people how good we are
- There will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in social media. ‘Winners’ will be those companies who fully utilise the interactive power of social media for engaging with and energising customer and network relationships
- In a social media era, new business performance measures are required. Measures that focus on the quality of your network and relationship strength as important drivers of future success
All of the points discussed above raise important implications for marketing academics, course content and development. Does the existing marketing curriculum in our Business Schools adequately provide our young people with the skills and knowledge for another 40 years of pioneering leadership in marketing? We think NOT!
Jim and Alan