Snake Oil Anyone?
In the 1800s, the Main Street of many small towns provided the stage for the snake oil salesman, a huckster schooled in the art of marketing and selling hype. He typically had a booming voice, decorated his wagon with posters that shouted the virtues of his product, and strutted as he demonstrated benefits of his medicine. Often he placed a shill in the audience to eat a spoonful of the stuff and proclaim the immediate benefits. The first documented snake oil salesman actually slit open a live snake and threw it into a pot of boiling water, from which he scooped and sold the resulting “oil.” While some would call this creative marketing, the industry has been fighting the image ever since.
This reputation still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of consumers, who fear being talked into something they never wanted in the first place. And, many business executives would rather ignore marketing altogether then trust a team to actually devise a program that results in more leads and sales.
Why Do Businesses Fear Marketing?
One of the reasons is that people don’t like to be sold. Marketing and sales are closely related. Marketing is also frequently equated with advertising and we all have been bombarded with a lifetime of television, newspaper and radio ads that we often – with the exception of the Super Bowl -- try to ignore, mute or fast-forward through.
For a business owner, marketing also translates to “expensive” and until recently it usually was. Frustrated entrepreneurs find themselves paraphrasing department store magnate John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on marketing is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Today, cost-effective marketing can be measured and what works can be fueled before being replicated. Analytics let you know about visitors to your website, where they came from and which content is meaningful to them. When potential customers contact you, the resulting conversation is no longer a sales pitch. It focuses on their problems and how you solve them.
Successful marketing follows these seven principals.
One observation about modern marketing still rings true: It takes time. Technology helps today's marketers achieve results with greater accuracy and lower cost, but businesses need to demonstrate a commitment and wherewithal to see it through.
There is less tolerance for marketing sizzle today – no impulse-buying of the bottle of snake oil from a charming liar who bases his sales pitch on the anxieties and fears of his audience, and who gets out of town before you find out his miracle product won’t solve any of your problems.
Instead, a modern marketing program is about telling personal, emotional and authentic stories, providing accurate, timely, relevant and meaningful content, and testimonials from more than one person in the crowd. The result is a long-term relationship that satisfies both sellers and buyers.
And that means marketing is no longer something to fear.
Have you been creative in your marketing efforts? What have you done to overcome marketing's 'bad' reputation? Let us know in the Comments section below. A real person reads and responds to all comments.
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At Crest, we help companies:
- Create content that separates them from their competition
- Become subject matter experts in their field
- Measure the effectiveness of their marketing $$
- Generate a consistent pipeline of high-quality leads for less
- Turn clients into evangelists