From panic to profit – Part 2 – The world has changed.

Marketers have one single challenge, and that is to influence the buyer at the moment when they are most likely to buy. Yet according the 2014 Summit, companies face another more important challenge, and that is how will they keep up with their customers?

In part 1 I showed what has happened in the world of marketing in the past 10 years, and the challenges companies face as they follow their customers into this new world of online. In part 2 I show what it is that has changed to create this new world of online.

The more some things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

Let’s go back in time to a world that was much simpler. In that world the challenge was to connect a willing buyer, to a willing seller. Let’s say you had an apple, and you wanted to sell the apple, all you had to do was go the town square which was the local market. Everyone knew where the town square was, and if they wanted to buy an apple, they could meet you at that place.

Things have changed with time, but the concept remains the same. Now the town square is called a shopping complex, yet the challenge is the same, to connect a willing buyer to a willing seller.

One day no one came to town any more.

Using the example mentioned above, imagine what would happen, if you were selling your apples on the town square, when one day, no one comes to town any more. You’d panic a bit right? You’d panic because something doesn’t feel right? What is happening, you would ask?

The following figure changes often, but around 69% of all consumers do research online and decide on a purchase before they initiate contact with a company.

Most companies have experienced that feeling in some form in the past five years, when they noticed no one was coming to town any more. The marketing they usually did, didn’t give them the same results. What they failed to notice was that this new world of online, became a part of their reality. It became their town square, yet they still focussed their push marketing on offline activities, whilst their customers had moved online.

Their customers started doing searches and research online, yet those companies were nowhere to be found. Yes they may have had a website, but they had no online presence. That’s why it felt to them, as if no one was coming to the town square anymore.

Marketing has a single challenge, and that is to influence the buyer when they are most likely to buy.

Getting back to the world as we know it today, we notice that everything is still the same with regards to connecting a willing buyer and a willing seller. The only difference is the marketplace or shop has changed. The place the transaction occurs has changed. Companies panic because they do not know where their customers are anymore, nor how to sell to them or even where the market currently is in this new world of online.

Marketers need to understand that consumer behaviour and technology has changed.

Consumers today do things differently. Just have a look at your own behaviour, searching for products on your mobile phone or your tablet. Is it really that hard to understand that the world we live in today has access to so much more information at the touch of a button or the press of a finger?

Kids in rural Africa can find information, or the right answer, much faster today, than the entire faculty of Harvard Business School could fifty years ago.

A multitude of different devices has revolutionised the way we consume content. The way we read. How we shop. How we live. And search engines like Google have revolutionised the way consumers do research or find products. Consumers can easily compare prices and products online, whilst in the comfort of their own home. What does your online presence look like?

Marketing messages are getting harder and harder to get through. One reason is because there is much more noise as there are so much more marketing messages vying for the consumer’s attention. The second reason is because customers have the ability to switch off or filter out the noise much easier than ever before. The remote control allows easy channel changing during advertising breaks. On demand television means the television channels allows ad-free viewing. And the list goes on.

That’s the reason you need to be found when consumers search for your company or your products.

Inbound Marketing has a simple methodology. Getting found online.

If you do an image search online for Inbound Marketing Methodology, you’ll see a similar image to the one below. The basics to understand with an Inbound Marketing way of thinking is that there are four steps consumers go through in the marketing lifecycle. And everything is based on getting found.

What Inbound Marketing aims to do is move strangers to customers and in the end promoters. In the beginning, all consumers are strangers, that need to find you because of your online presence. Your aim is attract those strangers and make them visitors, by offering them a bigger slice of your online content, until you can convert them into a lead who would like to purchase your product. From a lead you move them through the sales process, where you close the transaction and they become a customer. The final step is to delight them with your product and they become a promoter of your product and potentially your brand.

How you do that we will discuss in part 3. From panic to profit – Getting Found using Inbound Marketing.