Okay, I wanted to wrap up my thoughts about what I “Unlearned” at the BMA conference. In my last post, I highlighted this tweet of mine: “Sessions at #bma09 feel like a twitter stream about social media.“
Yes, the repeated chatter pushed the ‘social media’ agenda. Unfortunately, for industrial marketers like myself, ‘social media’ itself is in the someday/maybe pile. Hard to implement, and with limited direct benefit.
But lets not throw the social media baby out with the bathwater.
Authenticity is needed
The first challenge in approaching social media is also what one NEEDS to approach in marketing today. Social media tactics require authenticity. AND they need to align with your existing marketing/brand. THEREFORE we need to make sure our marketing/brand is authentic.
So our marketing needs to be authentic as a minimum standard to be up-to-date. Then we stand ready to move toward social media (if/when we choose) without having alignment issues.
Those industrial marketers that talk in third-person, arms-length language about being ‘an industry leader’ with additional non-specific marketing-speak, are not only looking dated, but are becoming irrelevant. No one is listening. A possible advantage of social media is the chance to find an authentic voice.
In fact, one presenter, Joe Pine (link to Amazon), said that we need to render authenticity. Much like how we would control how our logo is used by other departments, we need to control the tone of our outbound communications to assure authenticity. Of course, this is much easier if the culture and in-house communications uses the same authentic tone.
Joe laid out a chart of authenticity, and I think industrial marketers have no choice but to be in the ‘real real’ quadrant–where the customer’s experience matches with the real company behind their product. Its as simple as ‘do what you say you will do’ (Joe calls this the Polonius test: “to thine own self be true.”)
Unfortunately, this is bigger than a marketing problem, it becomes a systematic, cultural, and management challenge. Lucky for me that I work in a very flat organization that has no choice but to be authentic, but for others with top-down bureaucracy and a detached C-suite, authenticity is going to be a struggle. (Reference the challenges of Twitterer @comcastcares.)
Authenticity requires meeting, listening, and connecting to the marketplace, which enhances the quality of our communications. Great. But there is a greater value
Being connected to the market, along with the instant access social media provides, enables us to launch incomplete campaigns and tune them on-the-fly, based on response. In the past you had to have everything ready to go at launch, because you didn’t have that chance to fix things.
I’d look at the written content you are using. Is the tone and message authentic? Websites are the best place to work on this. If it is just cut/paste from a brochure, you’ve got work to do. Outbound emails and blogs, too.
Start Unlearning now, or I truly think you will find yourself behind the eight-ball very quickly. (I’ll talk more about that eight-ball soon.)