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Return to Relationships: Everything Old is New Again

March 1, 2016 | Justin Gray | No Comments |

You’ve heard it before – everything old is new again. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Marketing is no different. In fact, marketing may be the perfect example.

Before we dive in, it’s a good idea to first define marketing, that may sound obvious but for the first couple years of my career I truly had a very loose idea of what marketing was, despite the fact I was in it. Don’t take it as pandering when I say you likely have a poor definition as well – primarily because marketing has been somewhat of a moving target since inception.

A sum of parts?

What marketing is not is defined by its parts – marketing is not advertising. Marketing also isn’t branding or operations or messaging. Marketing isn’t dozens of other items as well. Marketing is all of those things.

Marketing is a vey big thing. This is primarily why it’s also very difficult to define, as marketing like beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. In recent years, marketing has begun to take shape and form and cast off many of the fluid descriptions that often have defined it.

The more marketing’s definition is refined, the more it seems to resemble something familiar, something that has existed for years, hundreds of years. Marketing looks like, well, marketing. I am a huge fan of statements that sound profound, but are in in fact very superficial, but also incredibly true and therefore I am a marketer. But that doesn’t make me wrong and in fact my previous statement is very right.

Marketing has evolved so much it has become it’s most simple and pure form: relationships. The very form from which it began.

A return to relationships

Relationships are really hard to create, maintain and grow – I don’t need to tell you this. Anyone over the age of thirteen knows this and repeats those maxims with the weary that can only come through experience.

Marketing, like relationships, is hard to do well. If you think you have found the golden recipe, the shortcut to winning, I guarantee it will be short lived. There are no shortcuts, in anything, least of all creating and managing relationships.

I do believe that we need to better educate the marketing and sales professionals we have treated as commodities for far too long. Beyond those very specific areas I believe that primarily marketing is shrinking, shrinking back to the almighty one-to-one relationship.

When you take a step back and look at the tactics and strategies in the space you’ll see that they are already begun to pull on the rug of the funnel model that has fostered mass messaging mentalities for so long.

Have you ever seen authenticity scaled? Nope.

So, just as we’ve stepped into the world of social reach and global immediacy it seems striking that anyone who is on the forefront of success is telling us that the exact opposite is the real key to success. Why?

Simple: Authenticity doesn’t scale well. In fact, scale often dilutes authenticity.

I know that really sucks to hear, because scale feels really good. It feels great to know that you have thousands of social followers or that you are blanketing the market with your email message. Everywhere your prospects look, you’re there. Success! Guess what, they’re sick of seeing you.

By now you’ve likely heard of the Dunbar Number. Social media got ahold of this a few years ago and it undermined the land grab of friends and connections we were all clamoring to obtain. I remember in the early days of social media how common the practice of buying followers was, most celebrity accounts still originate this way. My CSO has a great story from her time in sports marketing about a very popular “social media guru” who not only employed these tactics but also took the accounts with them when they moved on from representing that celeb.

More does not equal better

Marketing quickly picked up the ethos of more is better as it pertains to social and ran, and ran, and ran. We didn’t get far because it doesn’t work. Bulk email is achieving lower and lower returns, while transactional and behaviorally driven messages are seeing a huge uptick in engagement. Social media accounts that simply spew self promotion flounder, while those profiles that provide value to the listener stand tall amongst the crowd. We live in a time where buyers want you to provide them with info on products and solutions they WANT and if you’re not able to do so – f*ck off.

Get back in time

So, my team and I dove in to outline how to actually succeed in these crazy times where we seem to stand on the brink of mass messaging collapse. After all, it’s one thing to call attention to this – it’s an entirely different challenge to actually outline a plan to survive this marketing coup d’état.

It comes down to this: to truly understand where we’re going, we need to know where we have been.

With that, I’d like to invite you to hit 88 miles per hour and travel from relationships, to reach, to demand generation and account-based marketing with our new handy guide: Back to the Marketing Future. Check it out!

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