Categories for marketing

Last week I was presenting the idea that everything is marketing now to a group of business people in the Nashville area. After the presentation a man came up to me and said, “so basically if I just keep trying to do the right thing by my customers and keep on delivering great services, that’s a big part of my marketing?”

Yes. Absolutely.

If you play out the idea that everything is marketing now to its fullest extent you realize that it brings us full circle to a world in which people used to do business with people they knew and people they trusted. Many years ago that’s the way it was because that was the only option you had. There was only one place to buy certain things in your town or village. Today we’ve come all the way back to that concept but not by necessity but by choice.

Today I can choose a better company that is easier to work with or more friendly or operates in a way that appeals to my conscience. Acting like marketing still operates within a disconnected mass production world is the wrong way to think about it. The world is looking less and less like that.

So yes, the better you make your business, the better marketing you’re doing. People will talk about the experiences they have with your business from the way you answer the phone to the quality of your products or services. When they talk about you, will it be a story you want people to tell? It’s up to you.

Photo credit: “Oahu Explored” by Nancynance on Flickr via Creative Commons license. 

We’re a quarter of the way through 2015 and it’s beginning to look like one of the emerging (reemerging?) technologies for the year will be live stream apps. Live stream apps have been around for years but two new apps have recently launched that push live streaming in new directions.

Meerkat and Periscope have launched apps that allow for social live streaming via mobile phones. They let anyone start live streaming videos with realtime feedback from people they know and people they don’t.

Periscope Rises Above

Of the two, Periscope is the better option by far in my opinion. It’s more user friendly and has some interesting features that Meerkat doesn’t seem to have. Also, it’s now owned by Twitter so you can expect it to be more tightly integrated within Twitter down the road as its popularity rises. That will be good for any business interested in trying to use live streaming smartly. 

Periscope seems to have figured out that some people will be active observers with comments and hearts but they also allow for the passive lurkers who just want to see what’s going on at any given time. Meerkat doesn’t function that way. There’s nothing to do until someone you’re connected to decides to start streaming. There’s no discovery opportunity and that’s a big difference in the two. If you’re going to try one, try Periscope.

Why These Apps Matter

The bigger deal here is not Periscope versus Meerkat, but the fact that live mobile streaming seems to have the first solid opportunity for mainstream adoption that it’s ever had...and that’s where businesses should sit up and take notice. Your customer may soon be live streaming the experience they have at your store or unboxing your product or talking to your service technicians.

It’s really just more of the same though. Right? If we live in a world in which everything is marketing now (and I would argue we do) it’s no different than the customer posting to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram…except this time it’s via live video. Does live video change anything? Do companies respond differently with live streams than with recorded video or photos? We’ll see.

Three Things To Do Today

This is all very new so it’s wide open right now. The rules are being written today. Here are three things you can do today as you consider how live streaming apps may impact your business.

1. Download Periscope and Meerkat. You need to know what these look like, how they function and how people are using the apps. Download them both today and spend some time with them. You’ll inevitably do more with Periscope than Meerkat, but get them both anyway.

2. Notify Your Team. Your employees need to know this exists. They need to be aware of it…particularly if they deal with customers in real life. I know this may be a massive undertaking depending upon the size of your team but Periscope, in particular, is already one of the most popular new apps in iTunes in less than a week and you can expect a lot of new users trying it out. Your team should know this exists and not be surprised if (and when) they find themselves broadcasting to the Internet via a customer’s smart phone.

3. Reveal Something. As you consider how you might use live streaming apps, start with a behind the scenes view of something your business does. Don’t try to sell anything. Give a peek behind the curtain. Talk to the people who comment on your stream. This is a revelatory medium. Use it as such.

Last year I started writing about the concept that everything is marketing now. I even wrote a poem about it. As I’ve been hinging out of social media work and into the broader scope of marketing, I have realized one thing: we must expand our definition of marketing. That’s the only way you’re going to make it.

Marketing is no longer merely a series of tactics. It’s no longer a department for a few employees. It’s no longer the responsibility of a handful of people who have “marketing” on their business cards. It’s for everyone in your company because everything your company does tells a story.

Stories We Tell

For instance: if your customer service reps can’t resolve a simple issue because it’s against policy, you are telling the customer that your policy is more important than their business. Is that a story you want to tell?

If you sell a high quality product but the packaging looks terrible and cheap because you hired someone who was cheap (and terrible) to design it, you’re telling every buyer that you’re willing to cut corners for the sake of saving some money. Is that a story you want to tell?

Have you considered the stories your company tells in the multitude of areas that fall outside the jurisdiction of your marketing department?

These Stories Matter

You may be tempted to say that these seemingly non-marketing stories don’t matter much. You might be inclined to think most people don’t think like this and those who do are too picky or too snooty or expect too much from you. And perhaps they do, but these people also have power. Your customer has more power than she’s ever had. Not all of them of course, but plenty of do…and what makes it more interesting (or scary depending on your perspective) is that you can’t tell who does and who doesn’t have very easily.

The power comes from the reach of their relationships. You should assume that there are no one-on-one interactions with customers anymore. Everything has the potential to be shared. Assume it will be. It will save you some headaches and you may even decide (as I hope you will) that it’s an opportunity waiting on you.

It will also change the way you work because you’ll realize that everything your company does has a marketing implication from the way you develop your products and the experience your service provides to the way you treat your employees. The world is smaller now. It’s time to expand your definition of marketing.

7 Factors For Expanding Your Definition of Marketing

In the coming weeks I’m going to be unpacking this idea. There are seven elements that go into understanding that everything is marketing now. Here are the categories:

  1. Customers
  2. Employees
  3. Products/Services
  4. Experiences
  5. Interactions
  6. Insights
  7. Tactics

With a proper perspective of these seven categories, you will expand your definition of marketing and see where adjustments need to be made within the things you call marketing now and all the areas you probably don’t call marketing currently. It will change your marketing. It will change your business. It will be good.

Photo credit: “a new life” by Paul Moody via Flickr. Creative Commons license.