Category: Marketing

Social Media as Mass Marketing … Not the Future

"We're on Facebook."—Sign outside a nursery/garden center near my home

In 1994 I had the opportunity to work on the first hotel company website, when we pulled together 64 pages of brochure-ware for Hyatt Resorts. At that point, keyword advertising was years away and it would be another five years before Permission Marketing would be published. As people started to think of what marketing would be like on the Internet, mass marketing was the paradigm they used, because that was what they knew.

Looking back 15 years later, our mid-90s view of Internet marketing seems primitive. My opinion: In the future, our current view of social media is going to look similarly primitive, and this time we'll get smart much more quickly.

Like early thoughts about Internet marketing, popular discussions of social media tend to use a mass marketing paradigm. "Wow, there are 250 million active Facebook users!" "Twitter grew 752% in 2008. Incredible!" People talk about Facebook and Twitter user numbers with the awe that is usually reserved for late-January new stories about the power of Superbowl advertising.

More of my opinion: The big numbers won't be the big story in the future.

Already, the best uses of social media are not the mass uses. (Who cares if American Airlines has a Facebook fan page?) The best uses are the micro uses. Example: My 8th grade class, the 1973 graduating class of Lake Bluff Junior High School, has coalesced on Facebook and we're having a reunion. Now that's cool. I'll bet most of you have similar stories.

We don't know what social media's most effective marketing uses will be in the future. But if you want to get a hint of what it will be like, here's my suggestion: Don't think mass marketing. Don't think of advertising-type metrics, such as reach, frequency, big numbers, and "cutting through the clutter." Think micro. Think relationships. Think of a customer saying, "What's in it for me?" not a marketer saying, "Cool, I have another marketing tool!" Think of customers talking with each other, not companies adding social media to their "marketing mix."

Executives feel a need to be "On Facebook and Twitter," as if being "On" these sites signifies that they are up to speed on the latest marketing tools. But being "On" these social media sites doesn't mean a thing. When your customers use social media to talk to each other about you ... now that means something.

[Read more by Steve at]

In Your Next Sales Call, Don't Go For The Close

Most successful sales conversations don't end by closing the sale.

This may not be true for you if you're a timeshare salesman, a clerk in a retail store, or an airline reservations agent. But for most everyone else it is true.


• You are an independent graphic designer and you meet someone at a party ... the sales conversation is successful if the future customer enthusiastically remembers the conversation, and goes to your website to check it out when he returns home after the party.

• You sell large software projects and you have finally been invited to meet the CEO of a company you are trying to sell ... the sales conversation is successful if the CEO tells his team he really likes you and your offerings, and tells them to move forward with you.

• You are a CPA, and you have breakfast with a long-term client ... the sales conversation is successful if the client shares his fears about his own business, and gives you the name of a friend desperately in need of your services.

The common thread in each of these examples is that your relationship with the customer was better at the end of the sales conversation than it was at the beginning. Successful selling is usually not about going for the close. It's about advancing your relationship.

Try it today ... don't go for the close!

[Read more by Cool Friend Steve Yastrow at his website.]

No Gender About It: Reaching the Values-Based Buyer

Why did campaigns like the American Express "My Life. My Card." and the Kleenex "Let It Out" efforts so resonate with consumers? It may be the same reason that the recently launched Rockport "Choose to Walk" campaign (as critiqued by Stuart Elliott in the New York Times) is likely to also be a success. Something in each of those efforts rings true, feels "like me," or otherwise touches the soul of the core customers for those brands—and that may well include you.

Each of those campaigns has dialed into the values of its market—those things beyond the given baseline expectations for fair price and high quality. Today's consumers are really looking through any superficial brandwash in search of recognition and appreciation for who they have chosen to be as people. It all boils down to social values.

Research cited in a recent article by Sarah Fister Gale confirms that the new consumer is sticking to his/her beliefs and social values:

The 2008 Good Purpose survey from public relations firm Edelman overwhelmingly shows that buyers plan to remain loyal to products that they perceive to have strong social value.

According to survey results, 68 percent of consumers say that even in a recession they would remain faithful to a brand if it supports a good cause; nearly seven in 10 would be prepared to pay more for eco-friendly products.

Now, here's the thing: a person's core beliefs or values are not gendered. He may buy Brand X because he loves its green approach, and she may buy Brand Y because it reflects her belief in community—or vice versa. Social values are being raised up; they are becoming more of a priority and something that all consumers are using as a filter in their very deliberate purchase processes.

In order to reach these people, marketers have to make sure their brands reflect what their customers really want from the values perspective. This is indeed a more challenging battle than traditional advertising, but brands don't have much choice in the matter.

Certainly, the women these companies have been serving have been nudging them toward this values-based exchange for years, but there seems to be that much more urgency now that both genders are more careful about how they spend their money in tighter times.

Traditionally considered to be peripheral and perhaps irrelevant, the topic of social values was avoided by many businesses—they stuck to the usual facts and figures rather than "dilute" their brand message with such nonsense. But, women and men both are now demanding more accountability on a broader spectrum of "attributes," and brands must identify and reflect their authentic values throughout to make an impression. If they do it well, consumers will—just as with the American Express, Kleenex, and Rockport campaigns—see their own values within and respond.

[With this post, we are joined by Cool Friend Andrea Learned, who also blogs at her own website, She has a Manifesto, "Beware the Gender Trap," at ChangeThis, too.]

Sally H. vs. Steve Y.

Okay, let the game begin. This is where we'll be posting Sally and Steve's back and forth as the game goes on. Let's see what happens.

sallyhogshead Okay, the gloves are off and I'm ready for "Super Bowl Smackdown" - live commentary with @steveyastrow at #tpsb43 and

sallyhogshead Quite the collection of advertising clichés in StateFarm spot: faux press conference, dream sequence, celebrity, mis-direct ending.

steveyastrow #tpsb43 This Audi chase ad may be exciting, but it is confusing, over done, and ... it includes car crashes! Car crashes in a car ad ...hmm

steveyastrow Hyundai is taking some risks by having multiple messages tonight - their Assurance program and the car of the year.

steveyastrow Remember Max Headroom from the '80's? In the future attention spans would be so short that TV ads would be 1 second. Future = now

sallyhogshead @steveyastrow Steve: What's your take on a $3M media pricetag for :30 (or $100k / second) during a recession?

sallyhogshead Always surprises to see CMOs spend top media $ without top-shelf creative thinking behind it. This pre-game work is rather sub-par.

steveyastrow Yes, I can't even remember what ads I saw in the pre-game, and I'm trying to pay attention!

sallyhogshead On average, Superbowl parties have 17 people. Will Twitter lower that number, by giving people a virtual party?

steveyastrow Yes, the audience is 100 million people, but 97 million are dipping chips in guacamole right now.

sallyhogshead I don't care if the media is cheaper, it's still a waste to have lame ideas in the commercials.

sallyhogshead I don't care if the media is cheaper, it's still a waste to have lame ideas in the commercials.

steveyastrow Sally, my take on $3MM for 30 seconds in a recession: Customers are so scrutinizing right now, spending 3cents each on 100 million people is spreading yourself too thin. They won't pay attention.

steveyastrow #tpsb43 This Audi chase ad may be exciting, but it is confusing, over done, and ... it includes car crashes! Car crashes in a car ad ...hmm

sallyhogshead Audi spot is great because it's so YouTube-friendly- you want to watch over n over. Highly crafted for Audi consumer tastes. #tpsb43

steveyastrow #tpsb43 Yes, if Iwatched the Audi ad 100 times on youtube, I might get it .... if.

sallyhogshead Hold on, deja vu, are we seeing two time-compression-technique spots almost back to back (Audi/Pepsi)?

steveyastrow #tpsb43 The Doritos ad was hilarious ... but will be the classic, "Who was that ad for?" conversation at the water cooler tomorrow.

sallyhogshead Recent study stated that a single Superbowl ad generates more sales than 250 regular commercials. I bet more.

steveyastrow #tpsb43 Sally, so why is reaching 100 million people at one time a good idea? Seems like a mile wide and an inch deep to me

steveyastrow #tpsb43 Sally ... but what are "regular commercials?"

steveyastrow #tpsb43 The bigger the audience, the more diluted, the more people watching who don't care about your message ... very few sales being made

sallyhogshead #tpsb43 Huge disagreement: SB is the ultimate shared experience in USA. Its power isn't the TV buy, but in the social currency afterwards.


Super Bowl Show Down

We're going to be conducting an experiment at on Super Bowl Sunday. We've asked our Cool Friends Sally Hogshead and Steve Yastrow to wage a back and forth discussion about the Super Bowl advertisements. It seems that Sally and Steve have different ideas about the relative merits of companies spending $3 million per thirty-second ad. Steve thinks it's a total waste of money; Sally thinks not. But their comments on the ads will take place at Sally's Twitter address is and Steve's is While it may be difficult to follow their replies to each other at Twitter itself, since all the other discussions (and there will be plenty) will be showing up as well. So to make their 'debate' more clear we'll be pulling their 'tweets' off Twitter and posting them as an ongoing blog post at We'll be starting somewhere around 6 p.m. Eastern U.S. time tomorrow, Sunday, February 1. Hope you can drop by.

This Is Not a Recession

Don't think of our current economic crisis as a recession. Instead, think of it as a recalibration.

Everything is different now.

If you think of it as a recession, you may be tempted to "hunker down" and wait for the economy to cycle back.

If you think of it as a recalibration, you will be motivated to focus on what you have to do differently, since everything is different now.

The way your business generates results is different, now.

Your customers think differently, now.

Your customers care about different things, now.

Your customers act differently, now.

Your customers may actually be different people, now.

Customers aren't disposable anymore; more than ever, you have to create sustainable customer relationships.

Everything is different now.

I'm posting this on January 7, 2009. One thing I'm convinced of is that the world I am working in today is different from any world I have ever done business in. The world has been reset. We can no longer look at the "LY" column on reports to use last year as a benchmark for what will happen this year.

(Please join me on January 9th for my free 2009 Readiness Teleseminar. You can register here. I'll address six questions that you must answer, to thrive in '09. Please sign up, and if you can't make it live you'll receive an audio recording after the event.)

[Visit Steve's website and share ideas at See his books at—CM]

True Loyalty in Tough Times

The first notice most of us got of the current economic crisis came from TV and newspapers. Now, as the ripple effects of softening business move through the marketplace, just about everyone I talk to is seeing some sort of softening effect on their business. We are all vulnerable.

We can't afford to be sloppy right now, in anything we do. We can't waste resources. We can't let customers, in whose acquisition we have invested considerable sales and marketing resources, slip away, believing that new customers will show up to take their places.

In this economy, customer loyalty is one of the most important variables that will affect our success. It will be increasingly difficult to find new customers who can become big customers, so we have to get the most benefit out of what we already have. But ... we also can't afford to be sloppy with our concept of customer loyalty.

In so many cases, companies mistake promotional bribes for loyalty. But the kind of loyalty created by this type of approach is fleeting, and defenseless against a better offer from your competitor. (And you can bet that your competitors will be offering richer deals in the near future.) This type of loyalty, which I call transactional loyalty, can temporarily steer transactions in your direction, but keeps you very vulnerable in tough times.

The kind of loyalty you want to create in these times is what I call True Loyalty. When a customer is truly loyal, she is not loyal to your latest promotional offer, or to filling out her punch card to get her 10th smoothie for free. When True Loyalty happens, the customer is loyal to you. More specifically, she is loyal to her relationship with you.

This is a big difference. If a customer believes she is in a "We" relationship with you, her frame of reference is not the latest transaction, but the entire history of her relationship with you.

Soon, here at and at, I will share my thoughts on how to create True Loyalty. For now, what do you think? How do you avoid transactional loyalty, and create True Loyalty? Is True Loyalty a key to thriving in a tough economic climate?

A Bribe Is Not a Relationship

In the early '90s the word "interactive" got hijacked to mean any kind of marketing on the Internet. (How ironic since shopping on the Internet was not very interactive in those days.) Long before that, the word "brand" got misrepresented as something companies do to their customers, when in reality it is something customers do to companies.

Now I want to rant about how the word "loyalty" has been kidnapped. Loyalty has been dislocated from its true meaning and is now used to describe programs and promotions, usually supported by sophisticated software, that encourage customers to buy from a company multiple times.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with multiple purchases, but return visits don't necessarily correlate with true, meaningful loyalty. This kind of tit-for-tat transactional loyalty can be fleeting. Purchase intent one week doesn't automatically lead to purchase intent the next week, if a competitor offers a better sale price or promotion. This is the kind of loyalty that can evaporate quickly when another company offers better incentives.

The sturdiest, most indelible loyalty is that which is built from a relationship, and not from bribery. When a customer's frame of reference is her long-standing, ongoing conversation with a company, and not the gamesmanship of which company is offering the best rewards this month, she will not be easily seduced by a slightly better offer.

Can you use points programs, punch cards and repeat purchase incentives in your efforts to create true loyalty? Sure, but only if these promotions happen in the context of relationship-building encounters with those customers. And, what's most interesting, if you can build true "We" relationships with customers, you may not need to invest as many of your resources in these programs. Your customers will have more powerful reasons to keep coming back.

So, what's happening in your company? Are you creating solid, relationship-based loyalty, or are you continually wooing your customers with the latest new and improved, bigger and bolder, see-if- our-competitors-can-top-this promotion?

(Related question: Are loyalty promotions becoming a commodity?)

The Goal of a Sales Call

What is the goal of a sales call?
Close the sale?
Receive approval for your proposal?
Secure a meeting with the CEO?

Yes. These are all possible goals of sales meetings. But there is another goal that transcends all of these. The goal of every sales meeting—yes, every sales meeting—is to create a relationship-building encounter.

This is not what always happens in practice. Sales training has taught us the value of a solid, sequential sales process, where we have learned how each step in that process leads to the next step: The purpose of a cold call is to get a meeting, the purpose of the first meeting is to get a second meeting, and the purpose of the second meeting is to be invited to make a proposal, etc. Of course, these are natural steps in the sales process. But what happens frequently is that sales people are so focused on getting to the next step that they miss the chance to have a great encounter during the meeting they are in at the moment. (It's also very obvious to a customer if a salesperson is more focused on what they can "get" from this meeting than on having a good meeting at this time. They can see the salesperson thinking ahead.)

What great salespeople know is that the sequential sales process is subservient to the current meeting. They know that the best way to get to the next step in the process is to create a relationship-building encounter in the present. (I’ve got a free ebook, Encounters, available by subscription at my website, if you want to learn more about creating relationship-building encounters.)

When you focus on "now," the future will come of its own accord.

Stop Telling Stories

What does it feel like to be engaged in genuine dialogue?

I have asked this question in many workshops and speeches lately. Audience members have given very rich answers. "It's like a flow." "It's learning from each other." "What I say depends on what the other person says."

In his 1930 essay, "Dialogue," Martin Buber distinguished between genuine dialogue and "monologue disguised as dialogue," which he as "characterized ... solely by the desire to have one's own self-reliance confirmed by marking the impression that is made."