Why is my marketing not working?
A question frustrated marketing managers ask when things are not going to plan - and nowadays we are getting asked this question more and more frequently. The internet, technology and overcrowded advertising "noise" is hindering previous marketing methods. There is also something deeper and more cultural that it outside of specific market trends. Some companies are waking up to the fact that something significant has changed how effective their marketing efforts are. Knowing what this is could make all the difference. Do you want to discover what has changed? Read on...
Why old marketing methods no longer work
Before the internet, things were much simpler. If you had a product or service to sell, the chances are you and your team would know much more about it than your target audience. You would know what the benefits of using the product were, the value your audience would place on the offer, how much your competition were charging, and much more. Your audience would not have a huge amount of knowledge of these key things and would mostly be in the dark. Therefore all you had to do was push your message out to attract curiosity and then leverage the knowledge you had once anyone showed an interest. You’d use things like TV and radio adverts, print advertising, trade-shows and cold calling/email blasts to purchased lists. You got contacts, established relationships with anyone who responded, and your sales team closed on a deal.
This idea of pushing your message out has been retrospectively called “Outbound Marketing”. It is a maze of jargon where the loudest are rewarded with the attention of their audience. As time went on instead of being the loudest, being clever became the currency which got you attention. However as the advertising spaces became crowded, costs spiralled and competition increased. Marketers began to attract audiences using the lowest common denominator to maximise their conversions. We were left with brash adverts which appealed to base human instincts trying to get our attention.
Outbound Marketing is based on the concept of interruption - of attracting and competing for attention. Its basis is to find a commodity with a large audience which follows it (such as a television show). Once found, Outbound looks to interrupt this following with adverts. They might be nothing to do with the television show the audience was watching but Outbound does not care. Outbound is working on the premise that in the huge audience which watches this show, 2% might just be interested in what it has to say. What about the other 98% you ask? They don’t matter. Outbound is in the game for the few relevant potential customers.
This is the case with another favourite of Outbound’s tactics - that of cold calling. I’m not sure about you but how many times have you been cold called in an attempt to be sold something completely irrelevant to your situation? How does this happen? Outbound. Outbound has bought a list of thousands of leads and you have been on the list. Outbound calls you in the hope you will be one of the 2%. The poor Outbound salesperson is put under pressure to sell sell sell. In turn they turn into a sales monster to pressure you into buying double glazing. Onetime offers that can’t be missed. Shake hands today and you get a free giveaway. Buy some double glazing now. You have only just done yours last week? It doesn’t matter, you just go into a bucket marked “call in 5 years”. Goodbye.
The huge investment made in these and other forms of Outbound Marketing used to be worth the conversions. However this is changing. This has changed. The huge investments made do not render the same results.
With the advent of (and access to) the internet this has all changed.
Over the last 15-20 years consumers have become smarter. They can connect with huge amounts of information. They can review hundreds of similar products or service offers from the comfort of their armchairs. The modern buyer is educated and has done their research.
According to an article by the Consumer Executive Board (CEB) the average purchase decision is 57% complete before a prospect even makes contact.
Consumers today know all about the benefits of the product or service you offer. They will understand the value in what you are presenting to them. They will know what your competition is charging. No longer are they in the dark. The revolution we have witnessed over the last 15-20 years is a revolution in customer enlightenment.
This is why the old methods no longer work. The power is not in the hands of the seller any more. They do not have the right to interrupt what we are doing with their adverts targeting the 2%. We are now irritated by the inconvenience. If we don’t recognise a phone number we leave it for voicemail. If we dislike that email we mark it as SPAM so we no longer have to be interrupted by another such irritating Outbound email.
Technology is allowing us to not only be educated about the purchase decisions we make, it is also allowing us to filter out irritating interruptions. These two components of interruption and education are what the old pre-internet techniques are built upon.
It's as simple as that. Although consumers have changed, business has not. As a business we still need to seek to sell our product or service. Therefore a new methodology is needed. We need to understand the modern buyer. We need to adapt to their habits. The businesses which do adapt will survive. Those who do not recognise the change in how people buy will not. Adapt or die.