– “So, tell me, do we have any cool new marketing campaigns upcoming?”, a fellow European colleague asked me, while we were getting ready to board our ride from San Francisco back to Amsterdam earlier today. He is one of our best technical sales engineers.
– “What do you mean when you say ‘marketing campaign’?”, I asked in return.
– “Well, you know,” he replied, “with solid price promotions, lots of advertising, events, online banners, emails, that kind of stuff – marketing campaigns!”
– “I don’t think we’ll have those types of marketing campaigns ever again,” I said.
– He: “Are you serious? So what’s marketing doing to get new customers signed up, and develop them into loyal, frequently spending accounts – if not by running cool campaigns?”
– I: “Well for one, we’ll stop shouting at them, pushing them around, pulling them in by the hair kicking and screaming. We’ll be talking to them where they are, when they’re ready to engage, delivering the right messages for that very specific person, place, time, business challenge, and conversation. To show them we understand their world, and that we’re the ones best suited to help them solve their problems.”
– “Okay! But how will they ever know that you’re the one to talk to about their pains and itches? You’d still need a conversation starter, wouldn’t you? Something to get the engagement going, like an event, email, or telephone call? Isn’t that what marketing is?
– “No, that’s not what marketing is, that’s what marketing has been turned into by people who think customers are cash cows with short memory spans. Marketing proper represents markets, customers and prospects within the company, making sure the right products and services are created, delivered, supported, and constantly improved in order to create maximum customer value and brand equity.”
– “You see, Marketing proper drives and advocates business focus, high quality content and engagements, two way communications, and actual listening to customers and prospects. That has little to do with fancy events, bulky billboards, and unsollicited emails, don’t you agree?”
– “Uh, yeah sure, if you say so. But I bet the sales guys would disagree. They love fancy events!”
– “By no means. They’re sales guys, so this is core to their everyday reality. They grasp the value of a good conversation. They understand that high quality engagements eventually result in extended customer life cycles, deeper investment, and greater customer loyalty. They know this approach will pay off. And apropos: The days that high value conversations where taking place at industry events, have long gone. Event marketing in the B2B segment has become a business in and of its own, one which is delivering ever lower show rates and returns on investment. It’s an old school, zero conversion marketing tactic, and smart sales guys know this. Even they stopped showing up to man our stand!”
This is where we boarded our plane, and I started writing this entry.
What do you think Marketing should aspire to?