To say that marketing has evolved over the past few decades would be an understatement. The pendulum of marketing has swung wildly from one opposite to the other, and is now pointing to a previously unheard-of combination of the two.
For centuries, marketing meant pushing your company's message out to the masses. Think billboards, print ads, and TV commercials.
But then, along came the internet, and with it, social media. Suddenly, inbound marketing became the name of the game, attracting consumers through strategic content posted on blogs and social media sites. This new type of marketing was incredibly successful - and I should know, because that's exactly how I built my marketing agency from the ground up.
Today, however, the marketing ecosystem has changed once again, and the most effective marketing strategies now take an integrated approach.
I'm so thrilled to be speaking at Inc 5000 and below are some nuggets of wisdom I'll be sharing here at the conference belonging to this integrated approach, that when implemented together, can drive innovation and growth.
1. Agility through Analytics
Agility is still a buzzword, and with good reason - the ability to pivot quickly to take advantage of sudden opportunities and trends is vital in this new digital landscape. By keeping an eye on analytics - from both digital and traditional marketing campaigns - businesses can uncover such opportunities in real-time, and pivot to take advantage of them while they are still available.
2. Customer Focus
Contrary to popular belief, social media marketing should not be brand-centric. The focus should be 100% on the customer. In today's online ecosystem, a brand is valued for the image-enhancing effect it has on its customers - in other words, consumers use and promote brands that contribute to the image of themselves that they want to project to others. Businesses should craft their messaging accordingly. In addition, a focus on the customer takes on added meaning in the new millennial marketplace. Millennials demand authenticity, transparency, and meaningful relationships from the brands they do business with, so companies should be careful to cultivate that relationship by being open and honest.
As common as it is for businesses to have separate departments for their online marketing and traditional marketing efforts, the new digital landscape demands a fully integrated approach to marketing. And it's not just a matter of social media and TV commercials anymore - brands are beginning to bake marketing into every aspect of their business, from the design of their offices and stores to the way they use technology. Intertwining all forms of marketing, so that the message and branding is consistent throughout, is the way to reach customers effectively today.
4. Content Curation
Content is so ubiquitous today that consumers can often find themselves confused as to where to look for truly valuable resources. Businesses can become that go-to industry authority by curating content - not just sharing relevant articles, but sharing their own unique wisdom along with that content, giving their audience a frame of reference for understanding it, and showcasing their expertise in the process.
I mentioned an integrated approach to marketing above, but cross-pollination takes integration to the next level. Cross-pollination means making use of every tool, every connection at a company's disposal to help in its marketing efforts. That can mean partnering with well-known industry influencers to broaden your reach to include their audiences, on social media or on their site. It can even mean reaching out to vendors to help promote a new service, or asking employees to share social media posts with their own personal networks. Just as digital and traditional marketing should be blended seamlessly together, so should marketing as a whole be woven into the tapestry of your business, touching every aspect.
Companies that embrace this new attitude towards marketing can reach the heights of success much more quickly than they might once have. By pulling all resources together into one tightly focused, integrated, transparent branding message, and then distributing that message via every channel and means possible, focusing on the customer and remaining agile enough to take advantage of opportunities, businesses large and small can achieve true innovation and meaningful growth.