“New Marketing” and “Social PR” are Simple. Talk With Me.

I constantly see chatter, blogs, articles and tweets out there about “New marketing” and “How PR works – or if it’s even necessary” now that social media is so mainstream, easy and accessible. Oy, I am so tired of the misconceptions that social media has somehow replaced these important roles in business. But I’m even more tired of everyone over-thinking this whole “new marketing” thing. Is it really that complicated? Here are a few quick “rules” to it that I think anyone can grasp:

- Social media is a tactic tied into a larger communications strategy. Key word: strategy. Have one. Actually, have more than one, because it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there are different communications strategies across different parts of your business. Communicating with customers about a service issue is not the same as trying to sell to a prospect or get the attention of a journalist. Make social media a part of how your business communicates. But don’t tell me your “social media plan” replaces solid marketing and PR.

- Marketing has changed in that marketers (and others, like politicians) now have to talk with their audience, not just at them. One of my favorite quotes on this is from Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff in the book Groundswell: “Marketers don’t understand channels where you have to talk and listen at the same time.” That was in 2009, and I think that while many marketers are now understanding that they need to be on social channels, they still don’t know how to start actual conversations that lead to valuable interactions between their business and its audiences.

- New marketers (and PR execs) make their audiences feel important. You can only do this by building a two-way relationship. That means that you listen as much as you “talk,” even when the “conversation” gets uncomfortable (i.e., complaints about your business or products). Be prepared to handle both your brand champions and your detractors – but always let them know how important they are by talking with them. Ask questions, recognize them, make it clear in your content (Twitter updates, Facebook posts, videos, what have you) that you’ve listened to them. Need an easy example? Think Old Spice. People watched, listened, shared because they were a part of it – feeling important and recognized – even if but for a second.

- Share great content. You’ve heard this a zillion times -  but maybe it’s more important to say share interactive and meaningful content that others will want to share as well. Oh, and it should be relevant to your business, whether it’s meant to be a revenue-generator, a branding campaign or simply an awareness builder. A favorite example of mine is Life is Good Radio. It’s sticky content that ties in perfectly to their culture and company mission. If you don’t know how to build good content, get help. Seriously – without it, you are not marketing in today’s world.

- Remember, it’s not that complicated. It’s just changed. Quite simply, you can’t dance if you don’t stop leaning against the wall hoping someone will talk to you. You have to start the conversation. If you don’t know what this means, you probably shouldn’t be in marketing in the first place.

What are your best tips for “new” marketers and social PR?

The “R” in Marketing – Marketers (and Politicians) Still Missing the Point of MRM

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “R” in marketing lately – the relationship factor, if you will. That word has always been in CRM but what about MRM? Marketing Relationship Management? I’ve been thinking about how the best marketers today really get this – they aren’t just about pushing content or messaging, but about building the right relationships in order to be heard. Marketers have not traditionally been “relationship” focused. They have been “megaphone management” focused.

Then last night I received a long, two-sided paper letter from a local politician’s party, telling me his long tales of woe and determination and why I should vote for him. And I thought, “Wow, this is so lame. How about trying to build a relationship with me all along, not just days or weeks before a vote?” (Note – this has nothing to do with my respect or thoughts on this candidate so please don’t go there – it’s about their tactics, not my political opinions.)

Marketers (and politicians, essentially your lobbying for votes is marketing) – let’s get smarter about the R in marketing. What does the “R” stand for today and how are you implementing it in your campaigns – or, are you? If you’re in marketing, you need to be thinking about the “R factor”:

  • Obviously, the biggest marketing R is RELATIONSHIP. Just look at that word and really think about it. What does it take to build a relationship – and sustain a positive one – with someone? It takes time, effort, consistency, attention. Repeat.
  • RECOGNITION – show me that you know who I am, you care about what I like and that you recognize my purchasing (or voting) power.
  • And that you RESPECT it. Answer me if I ask a question. Ask questions of me. Make an effort to find me and communicate with me where I am – don’t expect me to come to you anymore. Even if you never do anything with my answers other than acknowledge them, I’m likely to feel a special affinity towards you because you listened and cared enough to ask my opinion or feedback.
  • REWARD – marketers are generally used to “rewarding” loyal customers and potential prospects through recognition or special deals. This hasn’t changed. But what has changed is that your rewards – or lack thereof – will be publicly talked about, blogged about, tweeted about. Make ‘em good, make ‘em real and make ‘em consistently – your reward for doing so will be tenfold through positive, public word-of-mouth. (Another topic here big enough for its own blog post is cross-channel recognition and communications with loyal customers – a new CRM challenge.)
  • RELEVANCY – so you’re on Facebook or Twitter. Congratulations. Who are you following? Who are you enticing to follow your brand or politician? Who are you conversing with? What are you talking about? Make sure it’s relevant to me or your time is being wasted. Show me you “know” me – show me you want to talk about things already on my mind. Don’t come at me with your marketing messages but engage me in a dialogue relevant to what I have already made very clear I care about. Then, I will listen to you and your marketing messages – and maybe even try your product or service (or vote for you) – because you made an effort to relate to me as a customer, voter, prospect…but mostly, a person.

None of this may seem new or earth shattering, but I continue to see marketers every day who don’t get it. They keep pushing their news stream or blog posts or special offers without any dialogue or focus. They talk about Twitter numbers but then hesitantly say, “Oh, um, not really” when we ask if they have a strategy around building fans and followers – the relevant and right fans and followers. They don’t answer questions on Twitter unless it’s a customer service issue – which they immediately try to take “offline” – or they post content on Facebook and then don’t engage with fans who comment. This isn’t so much about the use of social media as it is recognizing the power of building stronger relationships – and how social media opens up such a huge opportunity to do so.

And, as I’ve been bantering about on my personal Facebook page this morning, I see a lot of politicians missing an opportunity to put some “Love” in their “Lobbying.” That is, to connect with a younger demographic through social media – and to use it to connect with me, to talk with me, to not just send me two pages about you, but to show me you care to know a little about me – my needs, desires, hopes and dreams as a voter. I want to get to know you as well – but, only pushing content to me – and especially only around election time – is not productive. Even politicians using social media aren’t doing it right yet. Someone stated this morning that most people wouldn’t be open to it because the assumption is that it would be an aide or a junior executive behind the social media communication. But I’m okay with that – as long as it’s clear – if it means I get to know a candidate in a way that I can relate to, that I get to see their activity, hear from them and ask questions throughout the year – on my timetable, not theirs – and if I feel connected to them. Social media is all about a connection that we’ve never had before – politicians (and marketers!) should be embracing that opportunity to build long-lasting, loyal relationships.

Like traditional marketers, I don’t think political parties are building relationships with the masses. Let me say, I hate your ads. I roll my eyes at your sign-holding-picketers over the highway or in front of the grocery store and your recorded phone messages make me want to rip the phone from the wall. I laugh – in disgust – at the money you are throwing out the window on such irrelevant, surface and old-school campaign “strategies.” I don’t want you to touch my baby, let alone kiss him, and your handshake really means nothing to me if you haven’t taken the time to connect with me, relate to me and talk to me in a day and age when there’s no excuse not to. You’re not a celebrity, so stop acting like one – come “down” and talk to me if you want my vote (or my purchase).

Marketers, social media has changed the R in marketing. It’s about relationships – that is, relating between two entities – and yes, those take time to build, cultivate and keep. But like our personal lives, the rewards are well worth it.

What do you think? Are marketers doing a good job building relationships in today’s social business world?

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Christine Perkett interviewed on NewMarketingTV

PerkettPR’s own Christine Perkett talks with BMA President Michael Lewis on NewMarketingTV during the last day of the 2008 New Marketing Summit at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. All of the video interviews that Mike created during the summit can be found on the NewMarketingTV YouTube page.

Meeting of the New Marketing Minds, Part 3

This is Part 3 of my series of takeaways from the 2008 New Marketing Summit at Gillette Stadium. Part 1 focused on the importance of listening, while Part 2 focused on content creation and becoming your own publisher. Today I’ll share some of the ideas mentioned around controlling your brand online.

Lose Control – Heck, you already lost it, but it’s all good

If you can’t beat them, join them. Smart corporations are quickly realizing the value in giving up control of their brands and putting it into the hands of their customers.

I really enjoyed David Meerman Scott’s keynote “World Wide Rave: Creating triggers to get millions of people to spread your ideas and share your stories.” During his presentation, David shared six “Rules of the Rave” from his upcoming book entitled “World Wide Rave” which will be available March 3, 2009.

According to a description from the book’s microsite, a World Wide Rave is when people around the world are talking about you, your company, and your products. Whether you’re located in San Francisco, Dubai, or Reykjavík, it’s when global communities eagerly link to your stuff on the Web. It’s when online buzz drives buyers to your virtual doorstep. And it’s when tons of fans visit your web site and your blog because they genuinely want to be there.

One of his six “Rules of the Rave” and a key theme from the conference was “Lose Control.” According to Scott, the new rules of marketing mean you have to give up control to reach your customers. Don’t require people to give up their information to get information because it’s not working. If you make your information totally free to the public then you are likely to get a better response.

Sometimes you have to give a little to get a lot – and it works. David offered the example of how the Grateful Dead was the first band to allow its audience to record live concerts. This practice ultimately made them the most popular touring band in history.

Another great example was the Cadbury Gorilla video. Cadbury created a video of a drum-playing gorilla set to Phil Collins’ – In the Air Tonight. Now Gorilla’s have nothing to do with the Cadbury brand and the viewer didn’t even know it was Cadbury behind the video until the end when its logo appeared. What was even cooler than this video concept was that people actually took the content (content creation again) and made mash-ups of the same video to different music and released their own version. And within each and every one, the Cadbury brand appeared at the end. That didn’t cost them a dime for that additional exposure – excellent!

This isn’t your grandfather’s marketing

While the concept of new marketing is really exciting, we need to remember, as Christopher S. Penn pointed out, that new marketing is not a shiny new object so don’t treat it as such. Instead, look at it as another tool in your toolbox. There are ideas that have been done way before the internet existed that you can incorporate into new media. It’s a balance of finding what will work best for your organization.

So before you decide to jump in and incorporate some new media into your organization be prepared to stop, listen, create and let go. Visit www.GoNewMarketing.com for more information on upcoming New Marketing Summit events throughout 2009.

Meeting of the New Marketing Minds, Part 1

Last week I was fortunate to have attended the New Marketing Summit at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. There was certainly no shortage of information and knowledge sharing going on during the two day event. A wide-variety of non-stop sessions and panels filled each day, while keynotes from hosts Chris Brogan, Paul Gillin and David Meerman Scott sweetened the experience even more. Our very own Christine Perkett spoke on a panel that discussed “PR 2.0” with Tony Sapienza (Topaz Partners) and Bobbie Carlton (Beacon Street Girls) towards the end of day two. And if the sessions weren’t enough there was always plenty to learn from the 300+ attendees who made the journey to the conference.

New Marketing Summit 2008Photo Credit: Steve Garfield

After reflecting on the experience and all the information absorbed during the two days, I’ve selected three common themes that resonated throughout.

  • Listen, Listen, Listen
  • Content Creation – Be the Publisher
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Lose Control

In order to keep the size of this recap in check, I’ll be breaking each of the take-aways into separate (“snackable”) posts.

Your Customers Are Talking About You – LISTEN!

Mike Lewis, President of the Business Marketing Association of Boston kicked off the conference with a video of him at Quincy Market in Boston asking random people what they thought “New Marketing” was. Surprisingly, what he found was that most people actually got it. The old form of marketing, according to Lewis, was to talk “at” people – one way communication. New Marketing is about listening and engaging with your customers.

The “Listening in a Blizzard – Social Media Monitoring, and the Future” panel with David Alston (Radian6), Candace Fleming (Crimson Hexagon), Todd Parsons (BuzzLogic), Tony Priore (Biz360) and Mike Spartaro (Visible Technologies) continued the discussion on the importance of listening. They really hit the nail on the head when they said “…your customers are out there talking about you on the Web. They are blogging, commenting, making videos, etc. about the brands they either love or they hate (probably more about the ones they hate).”

Alston, during another discussion he presented at the Social Media Breakfast (#smb9) on October 16th expanded on the theme by asking the question “if someone was outside your place of business shouting about how much your company sucked, how long would it take for someone to run out to them to get them to fix the situation?” The same philosophy applies to relationships online.

When people are talking about you, take the time to listen and engage with them. If it is a positive comment, take the time to thank them and be sure to save that comment, retweet it (if you are using Twitter) and favorite it! If the comment is negative, reach out to that person directly and help them. Taking that extra step can turn a bad situation into a very positive one.

At PerkettPR we work with several of our clients on their social media initiatives to help them listen and engage in online discussions. The results have been incredible, and customers that might have, at one time, left the company, are now happy again and talking about their positive experiences with their social media spheres.

New Marketing means using today’s many social media resources to better listen, understand the issues, and get directly involved with your customers to make a positive difference in their experience with your brand.

Stay tuned for the next part of the New Marketing wrap-up series coming up tomorrow.