On this day in 1960, and for the first time in U.S. history, a debate between major party presidential candidates was shown on television. Presidential hopefuls, John F. Kennedy and Vice President of the United States, Richard Nixon, met in Chicago to discuss U.S. domestic matters.
Kennedy emerged as the apparent winner from this first of four televised debates, partly to his greater ease in front of the camera than Nixon, who unlike Kennedy, seemed nervous and declined to wear makeup.
From that point on, the way candidates conveyed their ideas to voters was forever changed. The same transformation is happening today. The way businesses speak to and engage with their prospects is different from just a few years ago.
Consumers are railing against brands that continue to interrupt them with unsolicited ads. I recently noticed pop-up advertising on my cell phone while I used a few of my favorite apps. Not games, but apps that I downloaded because they add value to my lifestyle. I wasn’t asking for advertisements and no, these ads are not influencing me to buy from these companies. In fact, they are influencing me to NOT buy from these companies.
Perhaps worse is that these companies are paying for me to NOT see their ads. Yep, most advertising is still sold based on impressions. Whether I like the product, company or ad – the business still pays for me to see it. That is like throwing money in the street.
Business owners, CEOs and marketing professionals are going to change the way they speak with their prospects and customers. Just like candidates in the 1960s had to change the way they spoke to voters, there are new rules today and those rules are changing every single day.
Today, it’s not about your budget. Big budgets don’t always equal big successes. Today, it’s about the experience for your prospects. What are you going to give them, do for them, help them with that separates you from your competition? That experience starts from the very first time someone hears about your company or visits your website.
What stories are people telling about your business? Are they remarkable? Are they memorable and sharable? If they're not, they need to be. When someone arrives at your website, is it dramatically different, in a good way, from your competitors? If it’s not, it needs to be.
What happens when I arrive at your website? Am I treated personally? Does it speak to me? Does it offer me something of value to help me with my purchase decision or quest for information? I don’t want to read about your products' features or benefits. I want to be smarter after I leave. I want my experience to be what we call, “edu-tainment.” Part education and part entertainment.
What happens after I leave the site? You want to make sure the experience continues days, weeks and even months after my first visit. How do you cultivate and nurture me until I am ready to make a purchase decision? That experience is critical – and here is a hint: it doesn’t include a sales person calling me every few days to ask if I am ready to get started.
Take a big picture look at your marketing and sales processes, and consider the changes we are going through right now and those coming down the road tomorrow. Do you want your business to be Nixon, who rejected the differences of the new media and lost, or Kennedy, who embraced a new process, adapted accordingly and won?
Start Today Tip – Inbound marketing might not be something you’re comfortable with or experienced at executing, but it is the way we will all market our companies in the very near future. Traditional and interruptive advertising tactics are NOT going to experience resurgence. Google and social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, are going to improve their ability to deliver exactly what your prospects want, when they want it. The sooner you start building your own inbound marketing program, the sooner you’ll start to see leads.
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