What Makes Great Marketing Great?

It’s no longer about finding, but about being found.

Your grandparents – even your parents, for that matter – wouldn’t recognize much of what defines today’s most successful marketing.  Back in the day, a small number of media or advertising gatekeepers pushed out marketing messages and content to huge groups of people who may or may not even have been prospects.

Things changed when those media gatekeepers were disintermediated by the internet and exponential changes brought on by technology. The sweeping change made it necessary for marketing to recreate itself. Here’s what makes marketing great today.

It is more targeted

Marketer Janet Kyle Altman tells Business News Daily that to market successfully, your customer can’t be “everyone.” Altman uses the example of sneakers. Even if you think everybody needs them, successful marketers like Nike courts consumers who want to win (Just Do It). Converse speaks to consumers who want to emulate icons and make a fashion statement (Shoes Are Boring. Wear Sneakers.).

Today, marketers aren’t interested in quantity. They want quality engagements with specific groups of people, and they speak to them using their respective lexicon. Sometimes that’s even possible by using an emoji.

What is it, then?

Inc. magazine asked Schwab CEO David Pottruck what marketing is. Pottruck is also a best-selling author on the subject and creator of one of the Wharton School’s most popular courses on the subject.

Pottruck believes that today’s most successful marketers can’t just push out promotion – or as he puts it, “packaging and pitching.” Sound like the old days? He says there’s a crucial “eyeball to eyeball” component where a brand must connect with prospects to understand hopes, dreams, unmet needs, and dissatisfactions. Then, Pottruck says, it’s time to start storytelling.

The need to absorb first makes it important to find professionals who share certain traits. Among them are extreme curiosity, the ability to observe behavior, and an eternal desire to learn new things.

When it’s time to tell the story

When you take the time to observe your prospects’ behavior and engage them to understand their motives, you’ll know how to speak directly to them and in ways that resonate. You’ll help them put your brand in their worldview. As a result, the marketing you’ll create for them will be more about helping them understand their problem rather than simply promoting your solution.

How do we gain perspective as a consumer? We search for examples.  We’re searching for stories which show the benefit of finding a solution to our problem. If you define the concept of customer-centric as revolving around the customer, then you understand why your storytelling has to feature specific and actual examples of how a prospect can solve their problem by using your solution.

Many flavors

Meaningful examples employ relevant formats. What’s the best way to tell the story of why your brand understands a problem, knows how to solve it, and has the best solution? Successful marketing in today’s on-demand multimedia world means that your delivery vehicle can range from blog posts and videos to infographics and interactive calculators.  You have to put your content out there so that your prospects intersect with it on their journey looking for a solution to their problem.

All the formats used to deliver marketing today have a common element. They are storytelling vehicles. That story will remain the same, even as it’s produced in different mediums. Taken together, these formats are known as content. As a marketing tool, content’s objective is to be found.

The hunter gets captured by the game

Yes, it’s been carefully crafted to resonate to an exclusive group of people who are at a certain point on the continuum of the buying cycle for your product or service. However, it’s not like before. You’re not broadcasting it. You’re making it discoverable.

In many respects, things have been turned upside down. Content marketing, also known as inbound marketing, makes your prospects the hunter while you become the game. Today’s consumer gets to decide who can engage with them. They want the bragging rights to say they found you.

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