Whether you’re a DSL, ISDN or cable subscriber, you’re online. The Internet has become an integral, ubiquitous part of our private and working lives. These days, we think of the Internet almost like the dial tone — not as a means, but as an end to a means. Not the technology itself,
but what you can do with it.
With the incorporation of another communication device into our lives came a whole realm of previously unrevealed information and opportunity. An incredible volume of information, contributing to an increasingly complex world in which people are already strapped for time. The Internet represents an awesome resource, yet so many people are seeking to escape the noise, just get what they want quickly and efficiently, and move on to the next task in their busy day. People can’t possibly take in and absorb all of the opportunities out there – they actually want less information! And because the population is savvy, and know what they want, they will filter and organize and define, until the Internet is a tool that works for their particular needs.
The same trend can be seen in marketing. The Internet has revolutionized the way people react to messaging. More than ever, prospects demand that marketing communications be specifically targeted to their needs. They would prefer honest and meaningful dialogue to bombardment.
Relationships have in fact been an important driver of business for many years. The Internet has just spurred an updated version. An old-fashioned way of doing business, using updated tools. Targeted touch points, informed call centres, ongoing communications. A return to an honest and forthright approach, with humans as the focus. An advance to individuality.
In the past, advertising was the key marketing application, a campaign with a start and an end date, and hopefully, a big bang in between. This approach was a visual blitz; positioned in the places the right audience would see it. But over time, this cacophony of visuals became so thunderous, people started to condition themselves not to listen. Word of mouth had more impact than an extensive ad campaign, because there was a starting point from which to engage in dialogue — a trust factor. The industry is finding that words, not just visuals, are the key to motivating a sale. Targeted messages that register and build over time.
Marketing in the post-Internet age is a living breathing entity. One component of the dialogue will lead to another, the elements developing over time based on climate, need and response. It’s an evolution that doesn’t happen overnight, a sustainable progression of messages reinforcing each other. Rather than reach everyone as advertising aims to do, today’s marketing aims to reach someone who’s listening and who is relevant to your cause.
How to Connect with your Prospects and Customers
Start by communicating a message to an appropriate audience. Select a smaller, more manageable audience rather than a casting a wide broadcast net, with which you may be able to track impressions but not impact on the individual. Listen to their reaction and respond accordingly. Learn who they are, and what their needs are. You may choose to incorporate a technology facet to your customer relationship strategy, this can help you with a common view that ensures that the customer never has to tell you the same thing twice, and that your offering to them is targeted, based on their own input. By no means should the technology be left to manage the campaign alone. The human element, the proof that you are listening and responding, is what will build trust, and garner results.
If you plan to automate some aspects of the delivery, don’t move too quickly. Technology must be a piece-by-piece integration to the program; otherwise you might risk alienating your customers. The integration must also take into account the company’s positioning and brand. Be sure the automated approach represents the company’s unique personality. Remember, there is no suite of technology available to replace a sound strategy, nothing that can be simply installed and provide instant gratification. This is an ongoing discipline, and a commitment. The most successful implementers don’t just use the technology aspect to promote efficiency and productivity; they use the tools to enable them to form more personal relationships with their customers.
To motivate a purchase decision in your audience, marketers must first build credibility. Over time, this credibility will grow to mean loyalty in your customers. Which of course will make a major impact on your bottom line — as everyone can agree, it costs a lot more to obtain a new customer, than to retain an existing one. The Internet has provided an amazing resource to us, and has led us to a new way of communicating with our prospects. The marketer’s response it to eschew the noise, get down to the nitty gritty, and do it honestly and diligently — building a rapport with our customers that will allow us to deliver what they want, when they want it, and eliminate the frustration from their hectic and demanding lives.