Yes, it’s once again time for March Madness, which this year reminds me of … marketing.
Why? The marketing game has changed. Traditionally, sales and marketing ran a relay-race, with marketing doing the promotion, advertising, research and lead qualification, and then passing the baton–sales leads–to salespeople. Between marketing and sales, it was a race to the customer, and the salesperson was always the one breaking the tape.
Now, thanks to new media, marketing and sales looks a lot less “linear” and a lot more like a basketball game. Champion salespeople can still make the slam dunks, but the marketing people are right at their side, passing information and prospects back and forth, running the ball down the court and, at times, making scores of their own.
It’s new media that’s changed the game. Thanks to digital and social media, buyers are no longer the passive recipients of carefully packaged sales information. Instead, they now make, on average, 70% of their buying decisions during the marketing stage. A consumer decides she needs a new camera lens, and her handy tablet can hook her up with about a bazillion websites, blogs, chats, tweets and articles to answer her every question, along with every question she didn’t think to ask.
In other words, the line between sales and marketing blurs every day. Sure, top salespeople–like star players–are still golden investments. But now successful companies need top marketing investments as well. They must meet the consumer where he is, wherever he is, and “pull” him further down the sales funnel.
This paradigm shift, by the way, is good news for media companies. What we sell are marketing tools. Who better than media companies to offer high quality-and quantity-of content, community and commerce?
For media salespeople, however, the shift can be challenging. These days, many advertisers think it’s better to bypass the middleman (us) and go straight to the buyer via their own digital and social media. We, therefore, have to show that our marketing tools can give them both return on objective and return on investment. This requires us to have a deeper understanding and a fresh look at why and how people buy, and why and how they use our marketing tools to do it. In short, we salespeople need to become marketing-subject experts.
Think of this blog, then, as a way of short-cutting through business school. Keep your eye on this space for future guidance in navigating the mixed-up marketing/media/sales world.
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