We had a great experience on Friday at the Manchester Vistage Open Day when the speaker, Grant Leboff shattered many illusions about the value of marketing by what has become conventional means.
By conventional means, Grant listed direct mail, cold calling by telephone and advertising on TV and printed media. He made the point that the old blunderbus approach to selling to your customer base in total doesn’t work any more and produced statistics to show how each of these methods were in decline.
That is, of course, all well and good, but what is the answer? Grant’s view is that we need to identify precisely what we are selling, who the customer base might be and then approach them is such a way as to encourage them to want to make contact with you. It all sounds easy and Grant’s enthusiasm was inspiring.
However, it takes a lot of attitude change to move from “the way that we have always done it” to something radically different which requires a complete change of thinking. Not easy, of course, but the rewards are evident if only because you will stand out from the crowd and become a leader in the market.
There is a somewhat inelegant quote which says “if you continue to do what you have always done, then you will always get what you always got” and in fact it’s worse than that. Even that assumes no change in the commercial environment and we all know that markets are far more difficult due to the recent economic problems.
Change takes a lot of courage, foresight, risk and sometimes calumny from peers and staff, but in these straitened times, change is vital. We can’t just go on hoping that things will improve; another great quote, in this case from Albert Einstein, says that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome”.
The world of commerce has changed and is changing irrevocably. No longer can we impose an “Internet Policy” on our staff. Young people coming into such a business (if they ever would come into such a business) just cannot understand how they would be banned from using social media as a normal method of communication.
One of my Vistage members told me of a new member of his staff in his IT department who when asked how they were settling in, said: “Fine but before coming here I hadn’t ever used email so it was a bit of a change for me”. IT specialist who hadn’t used email? Certainly, because she used Facebook, Twitter. LinkedIn and You tube to communicate and very effectively, so who needs email?
Change is inevitable; just don’t think that you can close your eyes and hope that it will soon pass and the good times will return because they won’t – they have gone forever and we need to accept it and do something about it before it is really too late. An “Internet Policy” won’t help then.
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