Last week I chaired a seminar on marketing; one of a series of seminars that are held on a regular basis by one of Prague’s business associations, the International Business Forum. The seminar was focused on how marketing has changed and developed out of all recognition over the past few years, and I must say that after listening to the expert speaker on ‘social media’ I wanted to immediately rush back to my office and to start setting up microsites, vlogs, new blogs and all sorts of other things!
The audience was a mixture of experienced marketing people and bosses of companies of various sizes; those from SMEs were probably there to pick up as much information as possible in order to go off and try and do whatever they could themselves; those from the bigger companies were more likely there to learn more, in order to see whether their own marketing people were doing their job.
What was clear from the discussions that followed is that the main marketing questions are still being forgotten – i.e. ‘what are we trying to achieve with our marketing’ and ‘who are we targeting’ (and I am afraid that this is nothing new – I always ask a new client, and I am often met with a blank stare!). Now that might sound daft, especially to an experienced marketing person’s ears, but in a country that is still fairly new to sales and marketing, and where the people responsible for doing the work are often very inexperienced (or who hold a completely different role in the company and are just ‘doing the marketing because they can’) there is a huge risk of hours and hours being spent on ‘new marketing’, but with a very poor end result.
Some random questions/comments raised yesterday:
• A great video (I am not clear on who actually made it, but it wasn’t Coke) posted on a blog, showing the effect that placing a ‘Mentos mint’ has on an open bottle of Diet Coke – don’t try it at home!! This video has, apparently, been viewed by millions of people, and the audience yesterday tended to feel that the Coke marketing people must have loved it… so much free advertising for them. But would they really love it? Is it ‘effective’ advertising just because it shows the brand to millions of people (even if, to my mind, it could actually put you off drinking Diet Coke forever!)? Should we all rush off and post videos of our companies on blogs and microsites and then just sit back and watch the work roll in? Is it really as easy to advertise as that?!
• A question; ‘how often would the panel recommend that a new blog is posted in order to achieve a successful result?’ Without any mention of what the purpose was of having the blog in the first place – was it to gain new friends, get interest from customers, entertain the writer? Without knowing why you are writing it and what you want to achieve from it, then how can you define whether it is successful?
• A comment: ‘50% of my time is spent during the working day on Facebook and, as a marketing person, I consider that to be part of my job’….and another, on a similar subject: ‘my colleague has more than 7,000 contacts through Linked-in, but when I ask him how many of them actually relate to new business brought in, he can’t answer it…. ‘ Is building a network of contacts really as easy as that? And by doing it will it bring in lots of new sales and business? Or is networking and building a contact base just a little more difficult?
Whilst I am definitely sold on social media (why else would I be writing this!) I think that we could run the risk of forgeting the real skill that is involved in successfully promoting a company. Social media makes it easy for everyone to get networking, to post information, images, adverts, make contacts… but if we all forget the basics of marketing then all of this time spent may not actually work … and us wise old birds will be back to sitting with clients who want to tell us that ‘marketing doesn’t work’ or ‘marketing doesn’t work for my type of company’….. and how many times have we marketing people heard that!