Nobody reads your brochure – The rules of engagement have changed

by Ron on March 27, 2013

If you haven’t noticed, social media has changed the rules of customer engagement. Instead of writing that carefully crafted marketing brochure and selling ads and other forms of interrupt marketing, you need to be engaging more directly with your customers on social media.

As author David Meerman Scott wrote on Twitter this week, “When news breaks about your organization, silence implies you are either totally out of touch or simply don’t care.” It’s probably not the message you want to be sending.

That means if your midmarket business doesn’t have an online presence, it absolutely should because the rules have changed and your customers are talking to one another and you have to be involved in the conversation (in a non-creepy way).

The days of interrupt marketing over. You need to be online. The days of interrupt marketing over. You need to be online.

If you stick your head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening when that bad news Scott talked about breaks, you are letting other people control the conversation without your input. But it’s important that you have a presence online before the trouble starts. You can’t just jump right in or people won’t take you seriously.

As a writer, I use social channels to promote my work, but I don’t just use it for that or it would be the modern equivalent of an advertisement, and interrupt marketing simply doesn’t work in today’s world. People aren’t interested in your brochure.

As Seth Godin, who gave a keynote address at the recently completed AIIM conference in New Orleans put it, ” You can’t get someone in your company to read your email, never mind the rest of the world.”

Godin said we are now in a world where we must create networks of people. He believes the industrial economy is going away and it is being replaced by a connection economy.  “The underpinnings of connection economy are not a good billboard. Value is created by coordinating a group of people.”

In the old model, Godin explained you hired a sales force, launched an ad campaign and interrupted as many people as possible as often as possible. “Every brand you ever heard of this grew this way up until 10 years ago,” he said.

As Godin said, the idea of Mad Men wasn’t that they were so super creative at developing ads, they just had a captive audience and generated a lot of them.

Today, the internet has changed all that, and you cannot continue to play by the old rules because in this world you are looking to engage, to interact and to differentiate yourself from the competition in some key way.

When the source of ad space was scarce, and you had three or four television stations, you could afford to play this way. Today, as Godin explained, there is the opposite situation. With the internet, there is now an abundance of sources of entertainment and information and you can’t possibly break through that with traditional marketing methods.

That’s why you have to count on your customers to work on your behalf, to tell their friends on Facebook and Twitter how much they love you because you have quality products and good customer service and you’re worth their loyalty.

That committed group of users, what Godin calls a Tribe, can drive your business forward today. A million dollar commercial even during the Super Bowl, isn’t likely to give you the same bang you are likely to get from your most passionate fans

It’s time to rethink how you interact with your customers and leave the brochures behind. Nobody read them anyway.

Photo Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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