The world it is changing. Technology has brought about break-neck speed changes in business. Marketing hasn’t escaped these changes. In fact, because it’s on the front line of customer experience it is one of the first functions in business to undergo major changes in the last five years. Many of the techniques that marketers used 5 or 10 years ago are not as useful today. Waterfall product development, telemarketing, fax promotions, face to face focus groups, TV and radio advertising, are only a few examples of marketing techniques less used or heading to the graveyard.
What are the major changes in the marketing function?
The vast majority of changes can be traced back to the internet of course. Using the internet as a distribution channel has brought about some of the most significant changes. One of the former Ps of marketing, distribution (place) is now an entire business on its own. In many traditional businesses it is becoming the major source of revenue for the entire company. Businesses in general have not yet decided what parts marketing should play in this new business segment. Whatever role they are given, marketers now need to have at least basic knowledge of shopping cart applications, how to manage them, web analytics, online promotion (including email promotion) and advertising, social media and online community management.
Even if your business is not selling online, you most likely have a website and chances are you need to publish online content, use social media and the web for promotion, advertising and possibly your customer service. Again, your marketing team will be required to have basic to full knowledge of online content management, social media and online community management, online promotion and advertising and web analytics. This includes knowing which applications to use and how to use them to accomplish all of these tasks.
The internet also affects how you develop your products. You now have access to tools that can bring you fast and valuable feedback while you are still developing.
Online selling can not only enable you to gather data that will provide you with insight to optimise your prices and pricing model, it can also, with the use of an application, adapt your prices to customer types for the same product.
Your customers ‘experience is also impacted at some, if not all points, by your web presence
Finally, the internet applications have brought about a higher level of integration of sales, marketing, communication, order fulfilment and customer service.
These new realities mean that the plate of your marketing team is overflowing to say the least.
What can small companies do to facilitate the change?
First, you need to have marketing staff that is open and willing to put in the efforts to learn all these new disciplines. Learning about all the necessary applications, how to work with them, getting the results you are expecting while doing your other work is no small feat. If your marketing team is backing into this monumental task it’s simply not going to happen.
As a business owner you are responsible for ensuring that your marketing team has the appropriate environment and tools to make this transition. Small companies can use different strategies to get their marketing team up to speed as quickly as possible.
The most obvious approach is to require your resources to get some training either online or in classes. This method is great but may not be the fastest way if used by itself.
Supplementing training with the use of an outside resource (consultant or knowledgeable new full or part-time employee) that will come into your company and execute specific tasks for the first time, while training/coaching your own marketing resources, will enable you to achieve faster results.
It is also important to remember that although your marketing team may have been aces at their job before, they are now apprentices in many respects. Hence, they won’t be able initially to deliver as much as they use to. Acknowledging this will go a long way in encouraging the necessary changes to take place.
Finally, as the conductor, you will need to make sure your marketing team works closely with your other resources such as IT, production and customer service to ensure as seamless a process as possible. This means fostering a collaborative approach with a common goal of better answering the needs of your customers. It also means creating an environment in which change can happen on a daily basis.
The world it is changing. You and your organisation need to change along with it.