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Blow Up Your Marketing Department!

By Jim Arnold
Chief Marketing Officer at MetricsBoard

Blow up your marketing department? Obviously, I don't mean that literally, but figuratively. However, if you take social media marketing maturity seriously, it may require making some significant changes to your team.

Major shifts in the purchase decision-making process have occurred in the marketplace, enabled by Web 2.0 technology and social media. This change is so profound that it is redefining the role and tactics used by marketing. Companies will need to change their marketing mix, deploy different go-to-market strategies, and embrace a new mindset.

Here are five reasons why you may want to re-think how your current marketing department is organized, staffed, and used:

  • Power of the Crowd: The sales-driven, one-to-many mentality of the past (disruption marketing) will not work with social media. We've reached the tipping point where pull strategies (attraction marketing) have surpassed the value of hunter-led push strategies. Reputation-based decision making using the crowd puts the power of information in the hands of the consumer. Buyers are no longer as reliant as they have been on gaining information directly from the company—they are first going to those they trust.
  • Inverted Decision Making: Thanks to social media, we live in a highly connected world. Access to trusted friends, colleagues, and unbiased third parties to gain advice and opinions has become pervasive. This collective feedback—commonly known as the "voice of the customer"—has changed the way decisions are made. The traditional purchase decision-making process is inverted, which is shifting budgets and focus away from push strategies and putting greater emphasis on pull strategies.
  • Eyeballs Do Not Matter: Marketing has always relied heavily on defining success by the number of impressions created. The thinking has been that the more prospects you touched, the greater percentage of buyers you could persuade to buy your product. While still a factor, in social media, the sheer volume of eyeballs you reach is not as important. Success in social media is based on engagement, shared values, and building trusted relationships. The quality of engagement is far more important than the quantity of touchpoints you make.
  • Real-Time Agility: In the past, it was not uncommon to take a couple of days to reply to an unsatisfied buyer or answer a customer's question. However, today is different. With the viral aspects of the Web, a delay in responding by just a few hours can make or break a reputation. Dissatisfied consumers who do not hear from you can send out a tweet, publish a blog post, or comment on the Get Satisfaction site, and his/her complaint is quickly shared with thousands. Social media is an always-on, 24x7 channel that requires you to be ready to respond at any time.
  • New Currency of Free: "Give to get" has become an accepted practice in social media. It is the action of giving value to the crowd in order to make a connection, start a dialog, and ultimately become a part of the community. Value can be provided in the form of free advice through a blog, tips in an e-book, complimentary research, and other types of offerings like free tools and special widgets. It is the new currency of the Web. Building your online reputation requires a different set of activities and processes. To be effective, marketing needs to be organized more like a publishing company than the more functionally based marketing departments of the past.

I probably have overstated the need to blow up your marketing department. But there are significant and fundamental changes taking place in the marketplace. These changes require us to also hasten our progress up the social media marketing maturity scale by altering the way we market and sell. The need for transformation is already here, and the companies that adapt the fastest will ultimately be best positioned for success.

Jim Arnold

Jim Arnold is a marketing executive, consultant, and co-founder of MetricsBoard with more than 25 years experience in marketing, advertising, and strategic planning. He has held executive-level positions with American Airlines, Compaq, EDS, IBM, and other Fortune 500 companies. Jim has also held leadership positions with Y&R and McCann-Erickson, where he led the development of several award-winning brand campaigns. He has been a speaker for CMO Executive Summit Conferences, Forbes magazine, AMA, and other organizations. Jim is a winner of the ITSMA Gold Excellence "Sharpening Brand & Competitive Differentiation" marketing award, and he has earned honors from the BMA, AMA, and AAF-ADDY Awards.