The Internet Changed Everything… and Nothing
Bill Gates said, “A fundamental new rule for business is that the Internet changes everything.” Is this true for marketing? 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 group of activities required to bring a product from manufacture to the marketplace. Historically, those activities included advertising, direct mail, promotion, public relations, branding, packaging, and distribution. They were referred to as the four P’s: product, price, place, and promotion. And then the concept of “positioning,” was popularized by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their 1981 book, Positioning: The Battle for your Mind. In the book they explained that positioning begins with a product and the idea is really about positioning the product in consumer’s mind.
From the standpoint of marketing tactics, the internet certainly offers us better tools: the ease with which we can access information, automated CRM (customer relationship management) techniques, on-line distribution channels and their respective advertising opportunities, e-commerce, viral marketing, social marketing, and the general speed and breadth of communications offered on the internet. Let’s face it though, marketing’s two basic goals: Producing high quality sales leads and positioning your company as a problem-solver in the marketplace are more important today than ever before.
To industrial and technical B2B companies, lead generation and product positioning are critically important. Many engineers, in particular, assume that if somebody needs a widget, they’ll “Google” it and, therefore, they think that all they need is 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 publicize for one of my clients, a manufacturer of shaft collars, “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 real 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 communicate with two tin cans and a string or you’re on the internet, you still need to demonstrate 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. You need to be perceived in your prospect’s mind (positioned) as a company that can solve problems.
The marketing challenge today, therefore, is to be recognized through all the noise and clutter on the web and in our mailboxes; both electronic and postal. And the best way to accomplish this is through product publicity because editors select the “content” which they believe will interest their readers and present it to them as news. As such, there is an implied “third party endorsement.” One thing has not changed [in this internet age] and that is: publicity is still “news and information” or “content” selected by editors and web hosts and published to inform their readers. Consequently it has more value than an advertisement or a sponsored message. It always has! 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 as well as illustrating how the product can solve a problem.
A huge bonus to product publicity in the internet age is the fact that getting your products featured as news content in quality Web sites and publications will generate Web traffic, produce sales leads, and enhance your search engine placement on Google. This is because their page rank technology is based on the number of Web sites linking to a document, rather than simply the characteristics of the document.
In conclusion, with respect to the basics of marketing, the internet has not changed the fact that product publicity is still the best tool for positioning your company as a problem-solver, getting news about your products in front of your prospective customers when sales opportunities arise, and also helping to move your products to the top of the search engine rankings.
© Copyright 2011- Steven M. Stroum
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.” venmarkint.wpengine.com