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I have been eulogizing the traditional marketing efforts for the last two weeks. I’ve had amazing comments online and offline. It seems that most people feel the same, traditional marketing is dying a slow and painful death – but are wondering – if I can no longer advertise on the radio or TV or in the newspaper – then what?

Well. The simple answer is. You’re going to have to pay attention to details and build business the old-fashioned way – by earning it.

The future of marketing is word-of-mouth. It’s not there yet. Not by a long shot. But it will be. Marketing had a great run. About 80 years to be exact. But for the thousands of years before the media, all products and services were marketed via word-of-mouth. It is – has been – and always will be the most effective and trusted form of advertising.

I’m taking the month of December off to re-brand myself. You’ll see a new look on my website and see a central theme emerging on this blog. I believe the future of marketing is to become the catalyst for:

Managing Moments of Truth and
Measuring Moments of Truth

Our product is service. It’s manufactured with the member/customer present.

Case in point. I have a car loan with Bank of America. I just moved from New York to Washington state. I was told by the lovely people at DMV that in order to get license plates for Washington I must contact B of A and ask them to fax a copy of the original title directly to the DMV office.

Sounds simple, right? You would be wrong. I’m not a big B of A fan to begin with and only have my car loan there because the dealer put me in that financing. I know. My bad.

First time I called B of A I tried to pay attention to the plethora of recorded options that greeted me – but when I selected from two menus and the recording continued “Press 1 for a blue car, Press 2 for a red car….” I just started hitting the “O” button and hoped. It worked. I was placed on hold for 10 minutes, got a person, a fax number – I’m golden.

Not so fast. When I tried to fax – the number just rang and rang and rang.

I called again. Having cracked the code I immediately hit the “O” button and was placed in the hold loop. Only about a 21 minute wait (I was told). In the meantime I was flipping through their site (as their on-hold message encouraged me repeatedly to do) to see if maybe I could find the right number.

Ah Ha! There’s an online chat button. Sweet. Here’s our conversation:

Bank of America has a giant marketing budget. Especially today as they try to rebuild their tarnished-greedy-tax-payer-bail-out-Kenneth-Lewis-egomaniac-management reputation. Some might think them successful because of their size. Too big to fail has changed the landscape. When it hits home – the taxpayer’s pocketbook – the rules have changed. I believe that consumers are getting ALL the power back in these relationships.

Social media is a communication tool that is shifting the power. Social media is not a marketing campaign. It’s no longer about you and your me-too products – it’s about them. Your members. They have a voice and they will use it. Some are using it as a weapon, while others are allowing their owners to speak for them.

It’s a tricky transition but one I truly feel marketing professionals need to make to stay relevant.

Stay tuned and thanks so much for reading and commenting. This is big scary stuff – we need to navigate these waters together. Otherwise it’s gonna be “Iceberg dead ahead!”

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December 2009