Friday, March 23, 2018

Lessons from History

I recently came across a discussion of what many scholars consider the oldest known example of advertising and content marketing.  It is a wonderful object lesson in the essentials of good messaging.

One Hapu, a rug merchant in ancient Egyptian Thebes, posted handbills asking help in tracking down a runaway slave.  To faciliate the hoped-for reunion, Hapu provided some details on where respondents might find him. 

But Hapu was a clever fellow and didn't stop at his street address.  He went into profuse detail on his wares, advising that he had the trendiest carpet designs and exciting colors.  In short, Hapu made sure to do his content marketing to inspire some sales.

Here we are, 5,000 years later and the rules are the same.  Prospects want to know how and where to find you and understand your market advantage, products and services and how those make their lives better.  The only real difference is that Hapu had access to limited (albeit state of the art for his time) marketing channels.  I'm willing to guess that Hapu put up those handbills in the right places to optimize his chances of reaching his real target customer.

Bottom Line:  It is so easy to be distracted by the razzle-dazzle of the up-to-the-minute ideas in marketing science.  But in the end we must be guided by the eternal truths of messaging.  As you get your message out, think like Hapu and focus on the right message for the right audience.  Learn the time-tested lessons of history.

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Retreat From Social Media

Remember the 1990s when "" startups were such a rage? And then the bubble burst?  I'm beginning to think something similar is taking place in social media marketing.

For the last several years I have observed with great interest enormous emphasis placed on social media marketing.  Everyone talks about it, but I don't see the great results.  In fact, quite a few of my small business peers are complaining that social media isn't much of a force for them.

The reasons are legion.  Rules are unpredictably changing, costs are always higher than expected, and "clicks", likes, and especially purchases are not anywhere near aspirations.  Add to that a highly fragmented marketplace and you have yourself a very unsatisfying "solution."

I think there will be a steady retreat from social media marketing to something more reasonable.  I think there is a place for this channel but it will be down the list a bit when all is said and done.  To echo the 1990s, a bubble is bursting and the casual adherents will find something new to try.

Bottom Line:  Marketing will in all probability be less successful than ever on social media.  It's time to think carefully about the channels you need to use to be most successful.  As always these will be aligned with your target customer.  Don't rule out more traditional channels if they are the gateway to your best prospects.  And as always, be leery of fads!