January 17th, 2011 → 4:00 am @ admin
I’m washing dishes at about 7:30. It’s dark outside. Just finished a great dinner with the family. Listening to my favorite music. Feeling good.
A fake-friendly rap at the door interrupts my reverie. (You know the knock — the sing-songey one where they’re trying to sound like your best friend, doing their best to conceal that they’re a complete stranger.)
My son answers the door, says it’s for me. Lo and behold, it’s a salesman.
“My name is Kyle and I’m with such and such power company, blah blah blah, green electricity, blah blah blah. Have you heard of us?”
“I haven’t,” I respond indifferently.
“Wow! Finally someone who hasn’t heard of us!” he exclaims in a scripted voice.
(Can’t you just see their weasely sales managers teaching them that trick? “Show surprise if they haven’t heard of you — that gives the perception that we’re so huge and widespread that everyone knows about us.”)
Then, out of the blue, he stops his canned presentation to make a lame comment about the picture hanging on the wall that he can see over my shoulder. “Hey, that’s a tight picture!”
“Yeah, really tight, like my wallet right now,” I think to myself.
(I’m also thinking of his sales manager bestowing upon him that wonderful tip—“Look for things in their home to talk about. It’s an ‘ice-breaker’!”)
I stop him in his tracks. I’m very happy with my current power company, which, by the way, uses relationship marketing—I was introduced to it from a friend who benefits from me paying my electric bill. The key word is friend.
Honestly, who are these interruptive, obnoxious, fake, manipulative, self-centered salesmen trying to fool? Do they really believe that people don’t see through the act?
This is nothing personal towards Kyle—he seemed like a great guy. It’s the system—the mentality—that’s ridiculous.
When I see people like Kyle at my door, I envision seeing dinosaurs. That system is so far behind the times that it’s laughable.
When I can research 15 power companies in my area—from price to service to customer reviews—at the touch of a few buttons, sales pitches at my front door fall as flat as a ball thrown by my three-year old.
Let me further clarify: I’m not saying that door-to-door sales are entirely ineffective. I’m saying that the sales, churn-and-burn, love ‘em and leave ‘em, transactional mentality is ineffective.
The first business I ever owned was a window cleaning business. I had great success with door-to-door sales—in fact, that was my primary lead generator. But I was never pushy or manipulative.
The offer was simply, “We’re in your neighborhood giving free estimates for window cleaning. It takes five minutes, would you like one?”
Customers were given the estimate and asked politely if they would like to schedule an appointment. We were respectful, transparent, unobtrusive.
Here’s how I would do it today, knowing what I now know: I would carry refrigerator magnets that displayed the company website prominently.
I would explain to everyone that didn’t set an appointment that they can go online and research our company to feel secure about our services.
And I would have a sharp website waiting to embrace them with trust and transparency.
Among other components, the website would have testimonials, links to connect with me on social networks, at least a dozen case studies complete with before and after pictures, a matrix comparing our services and pricing with every other window cleaning company in town, and a money-back guarantee for any dissatisfied customers.
I would even consider a no-risk trial, such as five free windows.
In other words, I would provide a comprehensive venue for potential customers to research and make the decision on their terms, then drive traffic to that website.
I would never try to push them into a decision — I would provide content and tools whereby they would be pulled into making the decision of their own accord.
Furthermore, I would provide a free download, such as “The Professional Secrets of Crystal-Clear Windows.” This would create a permission-based database that could be marketed to over time.
I could possibly offer exclusive monthly deals to this database. But I wouldn’t send out sales-oriented emails all the time.
I would send out useful information on everything from dealing with hard water stains to tricks for washing second- and third-story windows without using a ladder.
75% of my emails would be valuable content, and 25% would be sales-related. They could unsubscribe at any time. I would protect their personal information fiercely.
I would cultivate trust and respect over time and do all I could to make them feel comfortable throughout the entire process.
And I would never, ever stop in the middle of a canned schpiel to make a lame comment about a picture on their wall. I’m just sayin’.
January 14th, 2011 → 4:00 am @ admin
“We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it.” -Chris Locke in The Cluetrain Manifesto (affiliate link)
The primary tool of the old, transactional way of marketing and sales has been a metaphorical gun. Marketing departments and salespersons “zero in” on their target market, strive to hit the “bulls-eye” of responses and sales quotas, and rave about “making a killing.”
In the new marketplace, consumers view these types of businesses as predatorial.
“Salesman” has become a dirty word—and rightfully so.
Everyone has been so pitched, manipulated, hyped, and pressured by typical salespeople that we feel like taking a shower every time we’re approached by them. (When was the last time you had a pleasant, lasting conversation with a telemarketer?)
With information being accessible to the consumer almost anywhere and any time, the role of salesperson is more significant than ever before.
A “hunter” salesperson can send the signal that your company is solely after profit and will pillage at any opportunity made available.
On the other hand, a “farmer” salesperson can be your best advocate. Making sure the salesperson has the right message, along with incredible products, backed by a business culture that supports building a hub is the challenge of this new marketing age.
When possible, all of us avoid salespeople. Ironically, businesses that can’t see this shift to interaction have become more aggressive than ever.
Their sales are down so they’re desperately trying to grab the attention of potential customers. They’re on the prowl for fresh meat—and those potential customers are running for their lives.
January 13th, 2011 → 4:00 am @ admin
Given our focus on online marketing and permission strategies, as opposed to traditional, intrusive media, you may think we’re opposed to traditional media. This isn’t the case at all.
Hub Mentality is less about what you do and more about how you do it. It’s a mindset and philosophy more than a set of rules about which media platforms are best for you.
The key is this: If traditional advertising venues are appropriate for your model, the principles of Hub Mentality still apply.
Scrap the “Buy Now!”, “Last Chance!”, “Deal-of-a-Century!” salesy ads and replace them with intimate conversations among trusted friends.
Be vigilant about cutting all “ad-speak” from your ads—the kind of language and tactics people expect to hear from the companies they no longer trust. (For help with this, try out Tom Wanek’s Ad-Speak Calculator.)
Don’t be an advertising “hunter”—be a farmer instead, which you’ll learn about in the next chapter. Be authentic and transparent. Cultivate trust.
Offer them opportunities to explore more information on their terms. In short, use traditional media for long-term branding, rather than short-term promotions.
Be artful, not obnoxious in your efforts to gain attention.
Don’t view traditional advertising and Hub Mentality as separate and distinct methods. Integrate all your advertising into Hub Mentality and apply the principles of the methodology to tweak how you advertise.
In this new mindset, traditional ads simply become another touch point to pull people into your database.
You’re not just trying to sell them one time; your goal is to make them a member of your community.
January 12th, 2011 → 4:00 am @ admin
Marketing is no longer driven by how many people you can reach. It’s driven by how well you reach people in the right ways.
It’s not about going wide with market saturation; it’s about going deep with quality content.
…now there is a revolution. [The] interruption engine is broken. Not slowed down, but broken. Direct mail, with 1% hit rate, is considered good. But people don’t open junk mail any more. TV ads don’t build brand anymore. In the US not one brand has been built from scratch via TV ads in the last 5 years, maybe more.
“Interruption media is falling apart. 50 million people in the US joined the do not call list within 3 months of it being started in the US. People don’t want to be interrupted anymore.” -Benjamin Ellis
People don’t have to listen to you anymore no matter how much money you have to advertise to them. You’ve got to find new ways to engage potential customers in a dialogue.
They don’t want mere sales transactions; they want interaction. They must experience your value before spending time and money with you.
Most businesses are already at least somewhat aware of this shift. The real failure is not in understanding that things are changing, but how to leverage that change to your advantage.
It all starts with a fundamental shift in perspective and business culture. It starts by shedding the obsolete “Hunter” (transaction) mentality, and incorporating the modern “Farmer” (hub) mentality.
In other words, you’ve got to stop exclusively hunting for fresh meat (selling) and start planting and cultivating seeds (creating a hub, or community).
Even if your business today has incorporated some aspects of farming, you need to look deeper on how to create more quality interaction and experiences. Your future depends on it.
Marketing by interrupting people isn’t cost-effective anymore. You can’t afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing messages, in large groups, and hope that some will send you money.
“Instead, the future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other. Ignite consumer networks and then get out of the way and let them talk.” -Seth Godin in Unleasing the Ideavirus (affiliate link)
January 10th, 2011 → 4:00 am @ admin
Not only has power itself changed, but also who controls it has shifted. In the past, it was business that wielded power to achieve its ends.
Now, the power lies with customers.
It is customers who dictate the creation and disposition of information. It is customers who determine not only what things get produced, but also how they get produced (note the rise in social-oriented and environmentally-friendly businesses).
Customers are firmly planted on the new throne; businesses are their servants. Those that understand and adapt will survive and thrive. Those who don’t will disappear, leaving only a memory.
“The rules have changed and consumers now hold all the power. They can screen calls, sign up for the Do Not Call registry, edit out commercials with DVRs, unsubscribe from e-mails and toss mailers unopened.” -Scott S. Smith
The newspaper industry provides overwhelming evidence of how drastic the power shift is. According to a dismal report from Investor’s Business Daily,
Newspaper readership has been on the wane since the 1970s, when about 80% of the adult population received a daily paper. The trend sped up with the rise of the Web; readership is now below 48%.”
“What’s left is a business model that’s half of what it was 50 years ago,” said Steve Gray, managing director of Newspaper Next. “The pieces that we have that still function are also the most expensive to produce, which is local news.”
The Economist reported that,
Newspapers have not yet started to shut down in large numbers, but it is only a matter of time. Over the next few decades half the rich world’s general papers may fold. Jobs are already disappearing. According to the Newspaper Association of America, the number of people employed in the industry fell by 18% between 1990 and 2004.
“Tumbling shares of listed newspaper firms have prompted fury from investors. In 2005 a group of shareholders in Knight Rider, the owner of several big American dailies, got the firm to sell its papers and thus end a 114-year history.”
It’s not that people aren’t interested in news anymore; it’s that they’re getting their news online. They’re getting it from sources that allow them to search and absorb on their terms.
January 7th, 2011 → 4:00 am @ admin
In the Industrial Age, money and size were power. The 20th Century business model was based on injecting large amounts of cash into advertising campaigns that promoted and sold products to cold contacts.
Traditional advertising models were based on buying eyeballs—in other words, the goal was to interrupt consumers.
Newspapers produced much of their revenue through ad space. Television, if you had the budget for it, was also a proven way toward success, given the right products and services.
Mass mailings, advertising in magazines, tradeshows and events, and telemarketing could also be effective.
Reaching the masses, or quantity, was the goal, rather than quality relationships. Mass production, rather than customization, was the methodology.
In the Information Age, relevant, engaging information is power.
A small business that provides relevant information along with incredible products and services to solve the problems of its customers wields more power than the large corporation that throws big bucks into interruptive ad campaigns that don’t speak to customer desires.
The market has been transformed and it demands a new kind of business, one that markets and communicates differently.
For decades, the only way to spread our ideas was to buy expensive advertising or beg the media to write (or broadcast) about our products and services. But now our organizations have a tremendous opportunity to publish great content online—content that people want to consume and that they are eager to share with their friends, family, and colleagues. Word-of-mouse is the single most empowering tool available to marketers today.” -David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR (affiliate link)
Due to the rise of the web and the ability to leverage technology, effective, customer-centric marketing campaigns with small budgets trump ineffective, yet heavily funded, company-centric campaigns.
Additionally, this new market demands that a significant portion of the money you’ve been spending on getting customers’ attention and selling them product must be shifted to keeping them engaged within your community.
Marketing departments must now focus both on customer acquisition and retention. More precisely, customer retention is not just the responsibility of your marketing department. It’s a product of your entire culture and policies.
Customers stay with you because of who you are and what you do, not just because of what you say.
Blendtec, a producer of powerful blenders, is a company that has made a smooth transition into Information Age marketing.
Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on old broadcast media, they spent $50 producing simple videos and spreading them through new social media outlets such as YouTube.
Their “Will it Blend?” extreme blending videos showcase Tom Dickson taking random items, such as golf balls, marbles, and even cell phones, and throwing them into their blenders.
Viewers are astounded as they chew up unlikely materials such as metal and glass, leaving nothing but a fine powder.
There are no actors, expensive props, or fancy editing. It’s just a nerdy guy having fun blending weird stuff.
Brad Baldwin reports,
Currently YouTube’s #3 most watched video producer, Blendtec has found an amazing ROI for their $50 marketing spend. With over 6 million visitors to their WillitBlend.com web site in just five short days, it’s been like hitting the mother-lode for the typically under-the-radar commercial small appliance manufacturer.
“More interesting than the awareness is Blendtec’s use of blogs, RSS, and comments from watchers/readers to feed future creative. And with over 10,000 comments from prospects in 10 days since their campaign launch, there’s certainly no shortage of ideas.”
Six million visitors in five days. 10,000 comments from community members. All this with $50 videos.
Even more interesting is the fact that when you watch the videos, no one is selling you anything. There is never a direct call to action.
They simply engage you with something fascinating and you’re left thinking, “Oh my gosh, I want a Blendtec!”
January 6th, 2011 → 4:00 am @ admin
Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” -David Packard, Co-Founder of Hewlett-Packard
Marketing used to be about advertising, and advertising is expensive. Today, marketing is about engaging with the tribe and delivering products and services with stories that spread.”
“A tribe that communicates more quickly, with alacrity and emotion, is a tribe that thrives.” -Seth Godin in Tribes (affiliate link)
News flash to Information Age businesses: You’re not in the driver’s seat anymore. There has been a drastic power shift that will either make you or break you, depending on how well you adapt.
Unlike the past, you can’t steer people where you want them to go using interruptive, intrusive marketing and sales tactics.
Now, your job is to build the car (i.e. provide the products and services) that your customers want to drive. If you grab the steering wheel and force the direction, they’ll hop out and leave you in the dust.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to catch the eyes of the consumer. Once you have them you have to keep them. Technology has transformed relationships between businesses and customers.
Now, your job isn’t just to transact sales. Your job is to cultivate trust, build community, and interact with your customers on an ongoing basis.
Your job is to become a hub, a center of influence that creates value for your customers on their terms.
Sales and profit are the result of fulfilling customer desires through educational, valuable content and remarkable products and services. Do this and your loyal community members become your advocates and evangelists.
But do you know why? More importantly, do you know the day-to-day logistics of how to do it?
Your ability to implement and sustain Hub Mentality will determine your level of success in the 21st Century. Those who do not make the transition will fail.
Civilization has completed two life-changing shifts: first, from hunting and gathering to agriculture, and second, from agriculture to industry.
We’re currently in the throes of an upheaval that dwarfs the first two, which is the shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. Nothing is immune to its effects, including and especially business and marketing.
In his classic “study of tomorrow,” The Third Wave (affiliate link), futurist Alvin Toffler writes:
So profoundly revolutionary is this new civilization that it challenges all our old assumptions. Old ways of thinking, old formulas, dogmas, and ideologies, no matter how cherished or how useful in the past, no longer fit the facts.
“The world that is fast emerging from the clash of new values and technologies, new geopolitical relationships, new lifestyles and modes of communication, demands wholly new ideas and analogies, classifications and concepts.
“We cannot cram the embryonic world of tomorrow into yesterday’s conventional cubbyholes. Nor are the orthodox attitudes or moods appropriate.”
The profound shift in business is one of power. The transformed nature of business power is changing all the rules.
October 22nd, 2010 → 10:43 am @ admin
The choice is this: Your business can follow the outdated and ineffective transaction mentality, or you can adapt to new marketplace realities and make the shift to Hub Mentality.
Hub Mentality will increase your profits, make your sales process more effective, retain your customers better, increase word-of-mouth referrals, and facilitate creating and leading a tribe.
You can under-utilize your marketing dollars interrupting cold ears and eyeballs to get them to buy one time from you (transactional), or you can leverage your marketing budget building a community of people who choose to be exposed to your message on a regular basis, and who then become loyal customers (interactional).
If you choose the first option, understand the following:
The nature of marketing has fundamentally transformed to favor buyers over sellers. Smart companies must embrace new methodologies to take advantage of this shift.
Interestingly, for those who do, it’s actually never been easier and cheaper to reach potential customers—you just have to do it the right way.
The right way is to think like a farmer, rather than a hunter. You must pull customers into your business through trust, rather than pushing them through sales tactics and gimmicks.
You must cultivate authentic relationships and create a sense of community among your buyers. You must be real and transparent.
You must consistently deliver valuable and relevant content to your community. And you must do all this by leveraging the power of new marketing technologies.
It also means harnessing other technologies, such as blogs and RSS feeds, social media, online videos, podcasting, and others to increase your inbound marketing (affiliate link) and widen your sphere of influence.
A database is your “golden goose” that must be protected at all costs and cultivated wisely over time.
This is Hub Mentality. Execute Hub Mentality correctly and you’ll prosper in the Information Age. Ignore it and you’ll wither on the vine.