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World War M

Kiwi popsicle

The end of Marketing as we know it

B2B Marketing is a nightmare. No one gives a hoot about your sales message and it’s not surprising; we’re all suffering under a deluge of “please listen to me!” information from the web, social media and email.

We call this World War M – marketing warring against our attention barriers.

The good old days

There was a time when life was a lot more uncluttered. We did not realise it then because we didn’t know what we know today. In those days we were still more inclined to listen to someone’s sales pitch and although advertising squeezed itself into every available space we did not experience those channels as all that interruptive.

Life was simple for the marketer too. It was a simple numbers game. All you had to do was create an advert, get it showing up enough times in the right places and statistical probability did the rest.

Clutter unleashed

This all changed with the introduction of multi-channel TV and the web. As we migrated to the web for most of our information and communication, marketers saw a golden opportunity to push their messages through an ever increasing spread of available channels. Websites, social media channels and our email inboxes filled with a deluge of clutter.

The mind has a natural coping mechanism to deal with such clutter – it ignores the information as background noise. We stopped noticing banner ads and stopped reading anything that offers even a hint of trying to sell us something. Marketers don’t like to be ignored so they employ tactics such as those terribly annoying You Tube Pre-Roll Adds. However, the only thing I notice of those ads is the countdown number that allows me to press “skip ad” when it reaches zero.

When marketing messages do get through we employ software to help us root them out. Over 200 million people have already installed the free browsers extensionAdblock Plus to block banners, pop-ups and video ads (even from Facebook and YouTube). That says something about our annoyance with advertising. Our spam filters work ceaselessly to protect us from overload. Of the 144 billion emails that are sent each day 68.8% is spam – that’s almost 99 billion spam emails per day!

This is why we call it World War M.

Redemption for the Marketer

The problem for today’s marketer is this: unless people know about your brand and you can get them interested in finding out what you have to offer you are not going to sell anything and you will go bust. The saving grace for a lot of companies is their referral network and sphere of influence but that’s does not give you a lot of control over your lead generation if you want to grow the business or expand into new market sectors.

Some new rules of marketing and sales have emerged from this messy clutter in which we find ourselves.The target audience has been empowered. They call the shots now. They are informed, they share information among themselves and they can easily hunt around and compare solutions. In other words, they don’t want to be sold to.

What is the marketer’s role in all this? It’s simple: offer information that help the target audience solve their problems – and NO, you do not solve their problem by offering them your product. You solve their problem by giving them information, ideas, facts, statistics, tips, how-to instructions, etc. It is about building relationships as a trusted source of valuable information. It’s even about sharing entertainment content that create emotional connections.

And here is the crux of the new rules of marketing: given enough time you will build a relationship of trust and respect and when the person you hope to gain as a client is ready, he or she will ask you about your product. It is then that you’re given permission to sell.

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