Internet Changes Everything… and Nothing
Bill Gates said, “A fundamental new rule for business is that the Internet changes everything.” There’s no doubt about that! And when you relate his statement to marketing, you’ve got to understand what marketing is. According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”
In practical terms, marketing involves a series of activities required to bring a product from manufacture to the marketplace. Historically, they included advertising, direct mail, promotion, public relations, branding, packaging, and distribution. They were often referred to as the four P’s: product, price, place, and promotion.
Mr. Gates was right. The internet changes everything. And it changes nothing! Everything includes the ease with which we can access information today, the new on-line distribution channels and their respective advertising opportunities, e-commerce, social marketing, viral videos, and the general speed and breadth of communications offered on the world wide web. In short, technology. The “nothing changes” involves the fundamentals of marketing. Getting high quality sales leads, brand development, and presenting your company as a problem-solver in the marketplace are more important today than ever before. Product differentiation and credibility are critical.
The fundamentals are most critical to industrial and technical B2B marketers. Many engineers, especially, assume that if somebody needs a widget, they’ll “Google” it and, therefore, all you have to do is have a strong internet presence with SEO (search engine optimization). Partially true, but, as Peter Nielsen of Sail Magazine wrote about a product he chose to feature for one of our clients, “This is one of those handy little gizmos you never knew you needed before you saw it.” That says it all! Effective marketing stimulates and preconditions prospective customers to recognize that your company offers solutions to their problems. Even problems they never knew they had!
What caught Mr. Nielsen’s attention in Sail Magazine is that we illustrated how a mounting shaft collar, typically used in an industrial setting, can also solve a problem on a yacht. He recognized the value and chose to present it to his readers. So whether you’re communicating with two tin cans and a string or you’re on the internet, you still need to illustrate how your products can benefit your prospective customers. As every industrial and technical business owner knows, the key to marketing and sales success is problem-solving.
The challenge today is to be recognized through all the noise and clutter on the web and in our mailboxes; both electronic and postal. The best way to accomplish this is through product publicity because editors select the information which they believe will interest their readers and present it to them as news. As such, there is an implied “third party endorsement” which is key to establishing credibility. Part of the “nothing has changed” aspect of the marketing paradigm [in this internet age] is that publicity is still “news content” selected by editors and web hosts and published to inform their readers. Consequently it has more value than a sponsored message. It always has! That said, the lines are getting “blurred” more than ever before with terms like “sponsored content” being used to describe a paid-for press release.
The job of a product publicist today is more challenging and important than ever before because of “cyber-clutter.” He or she must be ever more creative in describing a product’s features and benefits as well as communicating how the product can solve a problem.
© Copyright 2009-2013 Steven M. Stroum [all rights reserved]
Steven M. Stroum is the founder and president of Venmark International, an industrial and technical product publicity firm located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He was appointed one of 18 Small Business Advisors to the Governor of Massachusetts, toured South Korea as an Ambassador for the International Rotary Foundation, was a member of the Norbert Weiner Forum at Tufts University to study the impact of technology on society, and was listed in “Who’s Who in the East.”