I’ve seen a lot of analogies lately (as there always is) about what marketing is now. Here are some of my favorites:
- Marketing is listening
- Marketing is a conversation
- Marketing is interaction
- Marketing is like Legos for your brain (one of my favorites)
These are all good and viable in their own rite. My opinion that they make up the larger category of education. Someone has to come away enlightened. There is always a need to educate a client as to how to best utilize the marketing landscape and this is now true more than ever. Web 2.0, for all practical purposes is dead, in that it is now simply the Internet. The online landscape is now, more than ever, changing in ways that we never conceived years ago while waiting for dial-up to connect.
When I interviewed Donald McMillan of Schmap we shared ideas of how some of the emerging technologies could be used to create online business models. We both agreed that technology, for the most part is no longer the limitation; it was business people knowing what was possible. There is of course the issue in regards to the timing of the market and right now, with so many things pushing online expansion (iPhone, mobile Internet, social media, cloud computing, etc) businesses need to be educated as to what is possible. Let me reiterate, just to be sure. Currently technology is not the limitation when it comes to business models; it’s business people’s understanding of technology.
The other side of the marketing equation that needs to be educated as to what marketing is now, are consumers. There is a general disdain for marketing with the annoyance of advertising seen as the prime example of what not to do. (Trent Reznor when asked about his marketing strategy for Year Zero, was quick to say that is wasn’t “f*#king marketing”.) This sentiment is also apparent in consumer’s love for DVRs.
Jason Fried of 37 Signals has a lot to say about the power of education when it comes to business in general. I agree and collaboration can’t truly happen if the playing field is not level and all contributors understand the business from their individual perspective.
So how does a marketer educate those around them? The first step is to make sure that you know who you’re talking to. For C-level people they are interested in the deeper business impact (brand equity, etc). Middle management will be fixated on ROI. Right-brainers will want metaphors while left-brainers will want numbers. Good educators are like chameleons and educating is not easy due to different learning styles but if you aren’t educating B2B/B2C customers you’re missing out on building deep relationships.