If the buyers wanted information about how the product worked, they needed to come to
me. If they wanted to negotiate a discount, they had to come through me. If they wanted
to speak to a customer to learn about their experience with my company, they had to
come through me. If they wanted to talk to the founder of the company, they had to
come through me. I was involved from the very beginning of the relationship, and most
of the leverage was with me, the sales rep.
But now, because of the wealth of information on the web, the salesperson no longer
controls the relationship. Now, the buyers can check you out themselves. They can find
your customers and read their blog accounts about what you do. They can reach the
founders directly via Twitter and LinkedIn. Buyers actively go around salespeople until
the last possible moment and then come into negotiations armed with lots and lots of
information. Now it's the buyers who have the leverage.
Most sales organizations are built and run as if it were still 1989. The sales model is
The New Rules of Marketing and PR Are Now Widely
Throughout 2005 and into 2006, I saw the patterns clearly and wrote a book that
eventually became The New Rules of Marketing & PR, now an international bestseller in
its fourth edition and available in over 25 languages from Bulgarian to Vietnamese. The
book, which has sold 350,000 copies in English, is about how to use social media, online
video, mobile applications, blogs, real-time media, and viral marketing to reach buyers
directly. I don't say this to brag, but rather to outline how online content has
transformed the way organizations reach buyers. It has made the marketing and PR
functions unrecognizable from those of just a few years before.
Prior to the web, generating attention meant buying expensive advertising or convincing
the media to write or broadcast about us. But now we've got a better way: generating
attention by publishing information on the web so people find it while searching with
Google and other search engines, and discover it when they share on social networks.
Since The New Rules of Marketing & PR was initially published, the biggest challenge to
getting these ideas accepted has been fear. People are reluctant to change. There has
been a huge disconnect between what people actually do as consumers and what they
focus on as marketers and entrepreneurs.
While many companies are doing a good job generating attention via online content, a
number still insist that their target market is “different.” Even though nearly everyone
turns to search engines when researching products and services and consults one's
network of friends, colleagues, and family members for advice through social networks,
the fearful marketers who are resistant to change still invest an inordinate amount of
time and money on traditional interruption advertising. These holdouts still focus on the
traditional method of pitching-based media relations. They are using the old rules to try
to generate attention.
The marketing and public relations functions have started the transformation due
to the advances in real-time technologies of online content and social media; now it
is time for sales and service departments to understand the new realities of growing
Living Real-Time and Mobile Has Changed Everything We
The two most important trends not only for marketers and PR pros but for salespeople
and customer services types alike is to understand the importance of real-time and the
rise of mobile.
Real-time means that news breaks over minutes, not days. It means that ideas percolate,
and then suddenly and unpredictably go viral to a global audience. It's when companies
develop (or refine) products or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or
events in the marketplace. And it's when businesses see an opportunity and are the first
to act upon it. However, too many companies leave themselves fatally exposed by flying
blind through this new media environment.
Real-time engagement is about reacting instantly to what's happening in the market,
following up on opportunities in seconds, and inserting your company into stories being
reported by mainstream media. Those skilled at long-term campaign creation frequently
lack the necessary skills of instant engagement. So an understanding of real-time media
While marketing is the provision of content to many potential customers, sales and
service are now about the provision of content to buyers one at a time based on
You can engage desktop-computer users when they're at their desks. Sometimes you can engage notebook users at Starbucks. But only when users go mobile can you engage all of the people in real time all of the time. That's why mobile devices are the fastest growing and most fascinating field in real-time market engagement. We need to
understand the ramifications of people being constantly plugged in and looking for
information while on the go.
Slowly over nearly a decade, the importance of these ideas has caught on with marketers and public relations people. Today, tens of thousands of organizations around the world have teams who are creating content to publish on their websites, writing blogs, and creating online videos, as well as engaging in social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And many are operating in true real-time fashion and understand mobile. In just a few short years we've gone from skepticism to deployment by many companies, nonprofits, and other outfits.
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