Today, the markets targeted by B2B organizations have extended beyond the physical business conventions and networking events. Digital channels such as email marketing and social media have given these markets a virtual expansion.
Now in the early days, the digitized version of this space was kind of like how 8-bit graphics were to video games. In the end, it was all just color and sprites. Movements weren’t all that ‘real.’ It was the same with marketing during those times. Businesses gamed search engines, spam filters, and clogged social networks because they weren’t as heavily monitored as the ones currently used now.
But just as video games gradually evolved to 3D (and the possibilities of virtual reality), the virtual reality of the digital marketplace was demanding businesses to take more realistic actions.
- Anonymity officially kills trust – On Facebook or LinkedIn, are you still represented by a logo as your profile pic? Do you use auto-responders to anyone commenting (or worse, complaining) on your fan pages? If there isn’t so much of an actual face to your business, how do you expect prospects to meet you for appointments (or even just receive your calls)?
- Content value is judged by real readers – Before, search engines ranked content based on keywords, back links, and anything else that any desperate marketer could spam to gain. Today, that’s no longer the case. Readers on social media now have a stronger say and it’s up to them to determine if your content is worth reading. The best you can do is give them something good.
- PRs should truly be PRs – The value of a press release before was that it was just another excuse to churn out content. But now, their true value demands what has long been asked of traditional PRs (ironically). It wants them to present real news about your business and it should be news worth sharing.
- Direct marketing needs many directions – There are now so many ways you can start a direct marketing/sales conversation with a prospect. Despite that variety, you are actually required to go through them in order to build trust first. Don’t just call out of the blue and expect to be heard. Don’t just email once with the same expectation. You’d have to mix up both.
Ultimately, this paints a place that is not much different from a real-world market. You have people who need conversations before sales. Announcements need to be completely authentic or else the crowd’s going to go away. And speaking of which, if the crowd grows to like you less, they’ll keep their distance. The age of the 8-bit marketer is over. You’ve got to be real, even in the virtual reality.