Marketing is about ideas

Michael Mendenhall, CMO of Hewlett-Packard, sees there’s an evolution going on in marketing. He talks about how his organization looks at brand building, “Many companies continue to look at marketing in conventional ways — from a mass-market point of view. Branding today is not about the media; it’s about the idea. You need to dismiss the conventional way of thinking and start with an understanding of the value of each communication channel and how — or whether — it will ‘engage’ people. The idea should be the organizing principle, and it should inform everything you do to help consumers grasp your brand promise in whatever channel you’re reaching them: the television, the blogs, the banner ads or the word of mouth.”

Mr. Mendenhall makes a critical point, without a good grasp of who your customers are and what appeals to them about your product and/or service you will never be able to generate the ideas that will make your brand successful/profitable.  Why is it then that few companies want to devote the resources for the research and time to create the ideas?  Is it that they are clinging to the “old way of marketing”?  Much like the drowning man clings to the sinking ship?

Are you a 2.0 Marketer?

Do you Brand Your Brand?
Creating a brand experience has moved to the top of today’s marketers’ priority lists. The American Institute of Graphic Design defines brand as “a person’s perception of a product, service, or company.” That definition has nothing to do with your mission statement, logo or tag line, or the design of your website. Instead, a brand is defined by the perception, good or bad, that your customers or prospects have about you and your business.
Your brand experience is made up of the cumulative impressions your current and potential customers take from their visual and verbal encounters with your business and staff. Some experiences are controlled, such as your office environment, how you answer the phone, your advertising, the services you deliver and your Web site. An uncontrolled – but just as important – experience is the word-of-mouth about your business. Strong brands come from consistently delivering a consistent experience. Savvy marketers will look at every impression in the context of and their overall brand experience.
In the new 2.0 world, marketing is less about what you say and more about what your prospect actually hears. It has become essential that you learn the needs and aspirations of your customers and provide value through each communication.
Most inexperienced marketers are unsure of their competitive difference and place a lot of attention on features instead of benefits. So what’s the difference? Features talk about your business and the services you deliver. They talk about the details, such products, services, hours, etc. Most people don’t care about features. Benefits tell customers what results they can expect from buying from you. They explain how customers will feel and about the time and money they’ll save from you compared to your competitors. For your marketing to be effective, you must be sure that every message you craft and send is benefits-focused.
Do You Effectively Get the Word Out?
Once you have established your message, you need to get the word out. The following marketing channels should be used to get people talking about your business and the services you provide:
Mobile: President Obama’s election campaign was one of the most talked about in history, not only because of the barriers it broke down in terms of race, but also because of the innovative ways in which it engaged with the electorate. In many ways, it was a turning point for mobile messaging, employing the most coordinated text-messaging, get-out-the-vote campaign in U.S. history. Mobile marketing delivers highly personalized and useful information when and where it is needed. More than 90 percent of text messages are read by the recipient, which creates the opportunity for an instant link between you and your customers.
Social Media: Not just for kids any more, 35 percent of adult Internet users now have a profile on at least one social networking site. Wise marketers will capitalize on the growing appeal of social networks like MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook. According to USA Today, social networking grew 93 percent from 2006 to 2008. During that time, Facebook grew 500 percent.
The key term here is networking; give and take. Social networking success stories have one thing in common: they’re all about the ping-pong effect. It’s you sharing information about yourself and your business with dozens, and then perhaps hundreds, of potential customers. In turn, those people mention you to their friends. Like all worthwhile business relationships, online networks must be nurtured. Make the effort to do so, and you will reap the rewards over time.

Video: How we communicate has changed. With the Web evolving to also include richer media channels, the savvy marketer must learn how to listen, understand and use the same media. Broadband penetration is 70 percent in the U.S., making streaming video a “must” marketing tool for your business. According to eMarketer, an estimated 154 million Americans watched at least one video in 2008, and three-quarters of those told a friend about one.  Video provides you with an enormous opportunity to engage, educate and entertain your customers – the “Three E’s” of successful marketing.
Gaming: Gaming now permeates just about all of society, creating a fresh way to connect with customers. Millions of non-skiers are hitting the virtual trails in Nintendo’s Wii and playing guitar in virtual rock bands on PlayStations. Senior-citizen centers are buying Wii to entertain guests and connect with grandkids. Having fun in the workplace seems like an oxymoron. However, having fun at your business is not only good for team-building, but also makes for more productivity. People learn best by doing, and the opportunity for group interaction provided by gaming’s virtual environment can make the office a bit more enjoyable. It can also be used to show appreciation for work well-done. Work doesn’t have to be one big party, but a little bit can make the work day go more smoothly.
Take Action
The successful 2.0 marketer not only will craft a targeted message, but will also keep customers happy by finding out the best ways to engage them.  Now is not the time to take a “wait and see” attitude.  With the marketing trends moving at lightening speed, 2.0 marketers should work at being early adopters and finding the right marketing mix to take them into marketing 3.0.

Jump on my marketing bandwagon

Marketing is critical! Anyone that doesn’t believe it should look at the reduction in ski resorts over the last ten years. I fully believe that many of the resorts that are now gone were due to either cutting their marketing or not moving with the times to use new marketing channels.

I know of two cases where the marketing department’s were eliminated and within just a few years, the resorts’ had lost more than half of their business. Clear Fork, OH (now gone) and Snow Valley, CA (still struggling to regain the level of visits they had in the 80’s).

I fully believe it is the CEO’s job to find ways to cut expenses. Marketing is seen as an expense most times instead of an investment. That’s too bad. Because, the CEO’s that support marketing tend to run successful companies. I once had a Ski Resort CEO say to me that he saw marketing as critical as snow machines. He must know something, since he’s with Peak Resorts (which is still one of the more solid ski companies right now).

I also fully believe that it is the marketers job to fight for marketing. Yes, we hear “no” constantly. That’s the nature of what we do. It’s what happens after we hear the word “no” that makes the difference.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a marketing bandwagon. I have carted it around with me for the last 13 years I have worked in the ski industry. In good times and bad it is where I go to find the fight needed sometimes to keep marketing relevant and forefront in resort management’s decisions.

Why not jump on?