Jay Baer – creator of the popular Convince & Convert blog and author of the forthcoming Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype – follows marketing trends closely. During an interview earlier this year at the New Media Expo, where we were both speakers, he told me about three marketing myths that are harming companies’ bottom line. By taking a different approach, your company can harness a powerful competitive advantage.
Misunderstanding In-Person Sales. Everyone knows a personal connection matters in sales– but few companies have grasped how technology has altered the dynamic. It used to be that salespeople were “the only repository of the information customers needed,” Baer told me. “Nothing was available via self-service, so it was almost a forced relationship.” But just as stockbrokers and travel agents found themselves supplanted by the Internet, salespeople are far less necessary early in the process: customers want to investigate for themselves online. “Salespeople don’t have the keys to knowledge unilaterally the way they used to have,” says Baer, who is also the co-author (with Amber Naslund) of The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social. They’re still important (customers want to know and trust the people they’re buying from), but their role in the sales funnel has shifted. “People call once every other question has been answered,” says Baer, so a rudimentary understanding of your product or industry just won’t suffice. Today’s salespeople need to be experts at building relationships, inspiring trust, and keenly understanding customer needs.
Thinking That More Communication is Better. Thanks to blogs and social media, any company can publish almost limitless amounts of information. But Baer urges businesses to resist the impulse to over-share. “You’ve got to think about the mother test,” he says. “Would your own mother care about this tweet?” If she wouldn’t, it’s time to back off, or you’ll risk alienating your customers. “You’re better off communicating less, but with greater relevance, rather than talking more.”
Not Creating a “Marketing Mix.” Creating great content is essential, says Baer – but it’s not enough if people aren’t already looking for your product or service. You need to think about a “marketing mix” that blends content creation and branding, which drives demand. “It’s not either/or,” he says. “People want a silver bullet, so they abandon the mix.” But the best companies recognize they need a full complement of marketing activities.
What marketing myths do you think most companies still hold? Which ones are most ripe for disruption?
This post originally appeared on the Forbes website on June 17, 2013.
Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.