Saturday, January 21, 2012

Backseat Driving

There has been a fundamental change in the marketing model, brought on by the Internet.  When I sat in my graduate Retail Marketing course 20 years ago, Prof. Robert Eng taught us the four P’s of Marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.  Every marketing diagram began with Product.  The standard formula was: develop a product, price it correctly, place it in the market and promote it like your life depended upon it.  Nowadays, it is hard to find "product" in the diagram of the marketing process.  This change has occurred ever since the consumer buckled up and used the Internet to take over the driver’s seat of the process.

Today, our desire to connect with people, products and brands draws us into the social networking world.  Search engines, Websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter have become the first places we turn to find or learn about a product or to fill a need.  This set of technology is where we seek knowledge, find what we like and discover people and brands we trust.  This set of technology is social media and it is the best thing that has come to small businesses since the dawn of the Internet.

Social media has opened up a whole new world for small businesses.  Social media enables businesses, for very low cost, to reach out to customers and prospects by becoming part of the conversations those buyers are already having.  Rather than broadcasting product facts, features and promotions, social media allows businesses to engage with their customers and to harvest valuable information -- information that can then be used to continue the conversation, strengthening the connections, while gaining access to others.  With the right social media strategy, a business builds an ever-growing community around its product or service.

Social media takes the overload of Internet content, puts it into a context that is useful to the consumer who craves connections, and builds community around people, products and brands.   Enter, the four C’s of modern marketing: Content, Context, Connections and Community.  Many thanks to John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing and his eBook, Let’s Talk Social Media for Small Business, for drawing the comparison between the 4 P’s and the 4 C’s.  It is always healthy to revisit the old, to better understand the new.

The trick is to be the backseat driver, but to do it in a polite, persistent, engaging, entertaining way.  With a deft touch, the backseat driver influences the driver and picks up some friends along the way.

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