Goodbye Marketing – Hello Social

Marketing 2011Alan 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 PrincipleGreat 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


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  1. Billy Delaney
    June 14, 2011 at 12:08 am

    The New Constant is Social Media.
    Being Social and using the media that delivers this social is a new exchange. People pay for this exchange with their attention. It is very valuable.
    Madmen was and still is just that, madmen spending other peoples money to push soap or anything else.
    I think a great addition to any social currency is Tim Sanders book The Likeability Factor. Herein begins the true worth of being social
    Thanks for a great article and post
    Billy Delaney

  2. Dr Jim Hamill
    June 14, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Thanks Billy for taking the time to comment. I will check out the Sanders book. Look forward to reading your own manuscript when available. Take care. Jim H

  3. Jonathan Gordon
    June 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Fantastic article. Re-educating our bosses that it’s all about supporting and educating our customers rather than pushing our sales messages onto them is something I think a number of marketers are struggling with at the minute. Also agree with the importance of continued content creation. An area I think the American company’s are light years ahead of those of the UK in.

  4. Dr Jim Hamill
    June 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Jonathan – thanks very much for taking the time to post and for your supportive comments. Spread the message:-) There is little doubt that traditional ‘sales’ tactics are declining in effectiveness and new relationship based approaches are required. Good luck in the ‘re-education’ process.

    Take care

    Jim H

  5. I am not a suspect | Energise 2-0 Social Media
    June 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    […] with sales messages. As Michael Stelzner (founder of Social Media Examiner) would say, ‘social and selling just don’t mix’. Please never underestimate or try to abuse the power of our […]

  6. Katerina Loungi
    June 21, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Being a MSc International Marketing graduate myself (Strathclyde University, Class of 1998), I believe that the Social Media revolution makes Marketing much more challenging than ever before. The main principles are more or less the same but the mindset and the associated skills required are definitely different and more demanding. The marketer needs to realise and quickly learn to treat the target groups as “Communities”, since the People have become the “Media”. Although it may sound “sexy & exciting” ;-), in practice it is much more difficult to handle . So far, all it took was a clear Brand Architecture, a single Brand Character and an Integrated Communication Plan for the traditional media. Now, Brand Content is added in the equation and it is far too important to be left solely in the hands of the Advertising Agency. Questions like how to build on a single Brand Character whilst telling different stories with a different tone of voice in multiple Social Media Communities arise. Apparently, Brand Content should be 100% tied up with the Brand Strategy and not only in the short term.
    Moreover, the profile of the Marketer is also evolving. Creativity and a strong social personality becomes a “must have” and a prerequisite as “out of the box” thinking became in the past decade. This is good news, since the tremendous rise of the PL globally indicates that Marketing suffers from lack of talented people who can give real value to their brands.

  7. Dr Jim Hamill
    June 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Katerina – thank you for your very interesting reply to the original post. Can’t believe that it’s been all those years since you graduated. Hope things are good your end.

    Challenging times indeed for marketing – but also lots of new, emerging opportunities for those who ‘get it’.
    Take care and keep in touch.

    Jim H

  8. Energise 2-0 Social Media Digest Vol 1. No. 11 | Energise 2-0 Social Media
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  9. David Stone
    July 20, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Good marketing embraces conveying an engaging convincing story like the famous Hovis tv adverts. Social marketing is no different. The consumer needs to perceive a different perspective of the brand to develop a relationship and an appreciation of the product benefits. The difference with social marketing is one to one immediacy, the ability to virally connect and instantly disseminate values to peers. I visited the Marketing Week show in June, this was evidenced by a presentation given by Sarah Hawkins, Marketing & PR Director for La Senza, where previously the brand had not used social marketing. They gained massive hits and a great sales success. But asked if it was possible corrolate hits, on social sites to sales then this proved more difficult.


    David Stone, MSc. 2008.

  10. Dr Jim Hamill
    July 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    David – thanks for taking the time to comment and for your interesting observations.

    Jim H

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