The internet changes things. You’re welcome for the breaking news update. To be more specific, the internet has been a complete game changer in the world of marketing. Thanks to technology and the internet, the ad agencies and PR agencies of today are practically unrecognizable from what they were even a decade ago. In recent years, we’ve seen a monumental shift in what marketing is, how it works and the way businesses use it.
With a lower barrier of entry and stiffer competition, technology has succeeded in turning the marketing industry completely on it’s head. In an industry that used to rely solely on disruptive marketing tactics to reach a target audience, suddenly inbound marketing has become the norm.
The question is, is this good news or bad news for businesses and marketers? To answer the question, let's take a more in depth look at the evolution of marketing and PR.
Agencies: Then Vs Now
Ad agencies and PR firms of yesteryear relied heavily on press releases, print advertising and radio. Billboards and advertisements in the Yellowpages were still considered smart marketing tactics 15 years ago. The main agenda for marketers ‘back in the day’ was to get potential customers to pick up the phone and call a business, or better yet, stop in.
Those days are long gone. While the vast majority of business owners know they need to be online, most of them admit to not knowing where to begin. Thus, the main agenda for almost any marketer these days is to drive traffic to a businesses website, with the intent to make a sale, or at minimum, build a relationship.
“Technology gives virtually anyone the ability to operate with a computer and a telephone at a very low cost of entry. It is easier to obtain information more readily on clients, conduct competitive analysis, search for best practices and find news coverage It is the only way now to contact reporters as very few answer their phone,” explained Andrew Lavin, who owns a Communications company.
In decades past, only businesses that had large amounts of capital could afford to hire an agency to do their bidding. So successful businesses got more successful, and the rest typically floundered. With the advent of digital marketing and digital reporting, came a lower barrier of entry for businesses to hire a marketing firm (or even do their own marketing). But with a lower barrier of entry, came a greater sea of noise and a greater number of marketers vying for attention in a crowded marketplace.
Media strategist Gwen Elliot offers this advice, “If you work in PR it's so important to bring creative ideas to the table. Journalists get hundreds of pitches per week (or sometimes per day) so how you can you make your pitch stand-out? Personally, I have invested thousands of dollars every year to learn about creative ways for online marketing and to hone my skills as a digital marketer and media strategist.”
The Rise of the Digital Marketing Agency
One similarity between the marketing of yesterday and the marketing of today is that the marketing arena is still ripe with many different specialties. From social media to SEO, to Media Relations and everything in between, a myriad of options exists for marketing a business online. Welcome to digital marketing 101.
Depending on which digital marketer you consult with, their services might include; blogging, content marketing, viral marketing, web design, social media marketing, mobile marketing, pay-per-click advertising, PR and/or branding. That’s a ton of options; yet I still feel like I’m missing a few. Add to that, some people still want an offline component to their marketing campaign. To sum it up, today’s marketing arena has become very convoluted.
An Integrated Approach to Marketing
To say that the rise of social media and digital reporting has changed consumers would be a massive understatement. Customers of today have completely different wants, needs and expectations than they did a decade ago. Successful marketers of today understand that winning with customers today is equal parts instant gratification and engagement.
According to Hubspot, three out of four businesses prioritize inbound marketing over outbound marketing. Statistics also found that B2B businesses that blog end up with 67% more inbound leads than those that don’t.
Yasmina Yousfi of Cloudswave explains, “ A few years ago, who would've thought that marketing professionals will actually wait for potential customers to come knocking instead of doing everything in their power to bring them? Inbound Marketing strategies involve setting up websites that respect all the search engine guidelines, are user-friendly and mobile-friendly, provide an added value to the user, publish quality content, with all the right buttons in all the right places.”
Customers today don’t want to be interrupted by a TV or radio ad (There’s a reason Tivo and Sirius XM radio are so popular). Consumers don’t want to be bothered with cold calls or unsolicited e-mails. Our increasingly fast paced lifestyle has completely put customers in the driver’s seat as far as when, where and how they get their information, and the bottom line is they get their information online.
The key to winning this game? Getting customers to come to you by inserting yourself into the customer’s conversations. Content marketing is one solution. Native advertising is another. And on-demand, stellar customer service via social media is yet another function of this marketing machine.
Founder & CEO of award winning Digital Marketing agency, Wpromote, Michael Mothner explained it best by saying, "In today's always-connected environment, there is no way to avoid the repercussions of a mishap; a negative review or complaint is bound to find its way online. But, the best marketers work proactively to have positive reviews outweigh any bad, face the crisis head-on, win trust with case studies...and to, of course, avoid the mishaps all together!"
The best solution for connecting with your target market? Take an integrated approach and don’t let customer service fall to the wayside.
How Are Successful Marketing Teams Winning Today?
Are successful marketing agencies of today taking a full service approach or sticking to a specialty? That depends largely on who you ask. There’s no shortage of digital marketing agencies who successfully “do it all”, nor are there a shortage of specialty agencies who stick to one specific area of expertise and leave the rest to their referral partners.
The real key to winning today is in being creative so your message stands out amongst a sea of other marketing messages. Equally important is the ability to keep your organization innovative and constantly evolving with the ever-changing trends and technology.
Leave disruptive marketing squarely where it belongs; in the past. Don’t forget to brand your business because brands have staying power, even when products have a lifecycle. Focus on real relationships and engagement, despite the ever-increasing ease of false connections on social media.
At the end of the day, people are still people; people who want to feel appreciated, connected and valued. If you can meet your customer’s emotional needs, you’ll always be winning at the game of marketing.