Marketing in an age of transparency

clear_ibook2 by motoyen, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  motoyen 

I got a phone call on the office phone the other day – the caller ID flashed an unfamiliar number. Before the third ring, I had done a search on the phone number, discovered it was a junk call, and decided not to answer. In the time it takes to answer (or not answer) the phone, I had learned enough about that company to tell me that I didn’t even want to talk to them.

This is just one tiny example. We live in an era of instant transparency. With very little effort, people can find information about your company or your product and decide whether to listen to you.

Technology marketing organizations have to understand and come to terms with this transparency. Tactics that made sense even few years ago don’t work as well today.

With this kind of instant transparency, your potential customers can decide very quickly if it’s worth doing business with you. This has several implications for marketing organizations:

Track and tend your online presence. Make sure your website is professional and clearly articulates who you are and what you do.

“Spin” doesn’t stick. It’s getting harder to hide product shortcomings under glossy marketing. If customers and prospects talk about you online, the truth will out. Be open and honest about what you do and don’t do.

Effective marketing earns you a place in the conversation. I’ve known many start-ups founders who think that superior technology doesn’t need marketing, it sells itself. Right. That’s why Apple invests so little in marketing…

Understand and champion your strengths. Put marketing messages around your actual strengths and competitive differentiators. They will resonate.

Content marketing works. Invest in content marketing that delivers real value to prospects and customers. Doing so expands your online presence, even if the content isn’t directly selling your products or solutions.

Finally, treat people decently. Because your karma may express itself before your next life, in online forums.

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