The Shifting Paradigm
Written by: Ryan Flannagan
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Chapter 6: The Shifting Paradigm

 

“So, I want to change my marketing spend to match new media and new consumers,” Chuck said. “You’ll show me how?” 

“No.”

“Then what?”

“You’re going to change your marketing spend to match new media and new consumers, just like you said, but you need to make a more fundamental shift in your thinking.”

“You already said that. I’m changing from marketing to business development.”

“But you’re still thinking of it in terms of marketing. This paradigm shift needs you to view your relationship with customers more like dating.”

“Is this a joke about screwing customers?”

“Not today, Chuck. But it’s sort of related. What do you call someone who makes all kinds of romantic gestures just to get someone into bed, then forgets their name and never calls afterward?”

“A jerk.”

“Right. How often do your salespeople treat customers the same way?”

“Uh….”

“Exactly. Because of some of the things we’ve already talked about, you have to be the person who’s sincerely into a relationship. The kind of person who sends flowers the morning after, and again the next week. There are lots of reasons for that…”

It’s time to turn our attention from buyers to the systems that drive your business growth. To do that, we need to talk about the major paradigm shift in B2C and B2B marketing in the digital age.

It used to be that marketing was the biggest part of promoting a business or brand. You let people know what you offered and how to reach you. People who wanted what you had came in the door, relied on your advice, and left the building with the product in hand or services rendered. Broadcast, interruptive marketing worked well for that. Well enough to be the given the lion’s share of thought about and budget for attraction.

But things have changed.

Today, marketing is just one part of a complex system of buyer attraction. It’s not even the most important part. This shift in paradigm represents an immense change in how acquiring and keeping clients works.

A few of the factors that contributed to this shift include:

  • The death of correlation marketing. Before, you spent money on marketing and your phone rang. Hooray! Marketing worked… or not. There’s a reason post hoc ergo proctor hoc is listed among the classical logical fallacies. Your phone might have rung because of the ads, or because of something in the local news, or because of a seasonal surge.
  • The rise of easy data access. Social media, automated sales reports and robust analytical reports mean that even small, independent shops can get real, (reasonably) accurate, meaningful data to drive each phase of business development. That the death of correlation marketing occurred at the same time as the advent of easy access to data is not coincidental.
  • Changes in the sales process. Modern digital buyers have made 57% of their decisions before contacting vendors. They get that far by leveraging easy data access to diagnose, explore and review options.
  • Transparency. Modern consumers have access to every review anyone has written about you, your product and your services at the tip of their fingers. We live in a “Big Town Small Universe” world now. If you engage in shady business practices, your potential customers will find out about it

All of this adds up to needing a new kind of approach to attracting clients. The degree to which you can shift your sales paradigm to match the new customer model is the degree to which your efforts will succeed in this decade and the next.

Changed Thinking on Attraction

The first thing necessary to address this paradigm shift is to stop thinking of what you’re doing as “sales” or “marketing.” Start thinking about it as part of profit engineering, to reflect the comprehensive, top-to-bottom perception you need to deploy with each prospective client.

Second, you must start thinking of customer relationships the same way you would any other relationships. You would never walk up to a new coworker and say “Hi. Wanna become best friends and loan me your power tools?”  You wouldn’t step into a singles bar and shout “Hey! Who wants to come home with me?” Instead, you invest time and energy in creating relationships where you might end up with new best friends or romantic partners…and if it not, you and the other people will still have gotten some kind of value out of the time you spent together.

Third, starting with the first contact, set up ways to delight customers and motivate them to tell others about the experience. Social, connected, mobile consumers are always just ten seconds away from talking about you. Make it easy for them to say nice things.

Fourth, surrender the illusion that you can control any part of the buyer’s journey. Those days are long gone. What’s worse, customers who see you trying to assert control are likely to find competitors who don’t. Instead, you should look for ways to give value at every level, point, or area that customers decide to spend time interacting with.

Fifth, make your primary value to early customers the amount and quality of information you can provide. This is more than implementing a few key action items mentioned earlier. It requires total reassessment of the purposes and delivery of your content, and how well your existing content serves those purposes.

Remember a few paragraphs back when I said this was like a relationship? All successful relationships are based on mutual respect. You must have and show respect for buyers by not running “sales games” or gimmicky, interruptive marketing. You want to gain and keep respect from buyers by presenting yourself as knowledgeable, truthful, relevant, and fair. Inbound marketing is a process that breeds both.

 

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