May 9, 2017

How Marketing is (Slowly) Changing

Infusionsoft had their annual ICON conference in Arizona last week. I didn’t go this year, but I was fascinated to read some of this year’s feedback:

“I’ve noticed a trend among several marketing conferences this year. This trend is based on the idea of building Human to Human Relationships with subscribers instead of focusing on building a bigger subscriber list to move more units & close more sales. And I was delighted to see that ICON was no exception.

Marcus Lemonis gave an amazing keynote that reiterated this trend, and his quote: “Vulnerability doesn’t have to be a liability – it can be an asset.” really hit home for me. Instead of pushing for more sales & more business growth, small business owners who embrace this idea (and importance!) of building real relationships with subscribers will find that they’re not only cultivating a more memorable brand experience, but they’re also using the power of human connection to create better, more meaningful relationships with their subscribers via marketing automation.

At the end of the day, it’s not about making another sale – it’s about creating a customer, and I’m excited to see this concept become an integral part of email marketing through nurture funnels and post-purchase customer engagement campaigns.”

Jamie DuBose, Zenplicity,

“At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked Marcus’s talk. It made me feel uneasy learning about others’ deep secrets, but as I reflected on ICON, it’s certainly the one that stood out the most because it was so unique for a business conference. What I got out of it was that it’s critical to be real with others that I work with. I’m naturally a more reserved and ‘closed’ person, but I realized I shouldn’t be afraid to be more open, even a little vulnerable, with partners, vendors, employees, etc.

In the end, it was really just a powerful reminder that business is about people above all else.

To drive home what Marcus said, I love how Verne Harnish finished off the conference by saying something like: It’s always a question of who, not what.”

– Brett Farr, Blick Digital,

All of this is an expression of what I’ve been writing about for more than a year now. Marketing isn’t about building relationships with faceless ‘consumers’. It’s about building real relationships with individuals. It’s about letting people know the real you, not the professional you.

In my opinion, there’s too much talk about the mechanics of marketing, and not enough talk about what marketing is, or why we have it. After all, most people view marketing in a negative light. So why do we even have it?

You can thank trains and telegraph wires for the existence of marketing. The arrival of railways and the telegraph in the 19th century pushed back the boundaries of trade, making it possible to sell to people outside your local town.

It became necessary to communicate the value of your product without being there in person. Brands were born as a mental heuristic to let customers in distant places make ‘better choices’.

Well, something interesting is now happening. We’re tired of being labelled as ‘consumers’. We’re tired of being lied to by big brands. (And politicians, incidentally.) We still want to ‘buy local’, from people we like and trust, even if that person is on a different continent. We want to know the real them.

Marketing is slowly and painfully coming full circle. Whether you market yourself as an individual or a brand, it’s the relationship individual people have with you that matters.

If you agree with all of this but aren’t sure exactly what to do about it, make sure you’re booked on to Thursday’s webinar, Story Selling in Practice. There will be a recording if you can’t make it live.

*All ICON comments courtesy of Greg Jenkins at Monkeypod

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.