By Mark W. Tipton
Growing up on an island in the Pacific presents many opportunities for one to learn and be involved in water sports. Besides surfing and diving, sailing was one of my favorite pastimes to get away and recharge my batteries. There is nothing like warm tropical breezes blowing across your face and the sweet smell of the open ocean. Often dolphins would approach the boat and surf the wake off of the bow for miles and miles. The word waypoint is a nautical term that relates to your destination. Where are you headed on that tiny boat in a huge body of water? This sailing term is a great analogy for marketing in today’s ever-changing landscape. How do you do effective marketing in such a wide open and volatile market?
In recent weeks, I’ve sat down with several large companies and discussed with them their marketing and advertising plans for 2012. Most are doing the same thing they did last year and dismissing other plans that they had because they did not work as well as they thought. Why is that? For one thing it was the lack of planning and execution. Also, the frequency with which the tactic was done. An occasional email blast to your customers or a Facebook update now and again will not bring you the desired results you are seeking. Companies today are worried about how they will be perceived in the public eye. Be true to yourself and your company’s brand and have the customer get to really know your products and services. So how does one do that?
The best brands out there have identity – a voice and a personality, if you will. We tend to not trust people who seem guarded or reserved and everything you write seems like it’s been under review. In your email campaigns, let your customers really know who you are. If you are engaged in social media marketing or you are just beginning to explore this phenomenon, create a dialogue with your customers. Ask them how your product is and what they like about it. Ask them how often they would like to hear from you and in what manner. We as marketing professionals have to change how we think and do business. We no longer can have a one-way monologue; now we need a conversation with our customers. If we take the time to stop and listen, we can learn a great deal about who is buying our products and why. Then we can create our marketing and advertising tactics around our customers’ real needs.
Sailing is exhilarating, but I never set out on the open sea without having a waypoint, or a destination in mind. If not, you sail around in circles and can get lost very easily. The same goes for marketing. We need to have a plan and know the customers we are trying to reach on their terms. Be yourself and share your knowledge about your product often on multiple levels. This way your customers will have real trust and loyalty in your brand.
If you want to try some new marketing initiatives in 2012 and would like to discuss these plans, I would welcome the opportunity to sit and listen and be a fresh perspective for you as you move down this path. When done well, it’s like sailing downwind with your sails full and you reach your waypoint!
Mark W. Tipton is the manager of Integrated Business Communications for Spencer Advertising and Marketing. Phone: 717-509-9356 email: firstname.lastname@example.org