Lost in the new world of advertising

By Stephen Rhodes

More and more, I hear clients talk about being lost when it comes to the latest trends in marketing, meaning, of course, social media.

It reminds me of the mid 90s when many small businesses migrated to the Internet because…well because they thought they had to be hip. Many jumped on board without much consideration for why they were among the newly converted or how it would help their business. “We gotta be there,” was the mantra in many boardrooms. Some are still trying to figure it out.

The same thing is happening today with social media. Businesses are setting up Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn, Flickr and even YouTube accounts without so much as a …how will this help our business grow?  “We gotta be there” is still the clarion call.

Advertising hasn’t changed much in 100 years. It’s still about  attracting attention, engaging minds, triggering  emotions, and changing the way people think. If you can do that you will generate sales.

What has changed is the delivery methodology.

If you want to influence behavior there is a spectrum of tools including direct mail, newspaper and magazine ads, commercial websites, radio and TV, and, of course, social media – the new darling of marketing.

The key is knowing which tool(s) works best for you. And not all tools will be effective for your business. I have a client who can track new sales every time we deliver a direct mail piece to a group of targeted clients. The key word here is targeted, often lost among the “I gotta be hip” crowd. But the point is, direct mail works for him, and he can see (measure) the return on his investment.

First and foremost is understanding your customers. Who are they and how can you reach them is the pivotal question. What do you have that they want. (the what’s in it for me question) Can I build an ongoing relationship and how can I capitalize on that to build an even bigger customer base.

These are questions you should ask every day.

Don’t get me wrong. Social Media is the future of marketing and communications. Building your own group of followers, a community of customers, all engaged and part of your business is a powerful opportunity to communicate a targeted message.

But take a measured approach. Who is your customer, what message do you want to deliver and what is the best way to get it there? Some things never change.

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