Thankfully, I never studied the theories of marketing.
My main issue with theory is that it’s just that – theory. While it does provide a healthy marketing framework, it gets in way when trying to innovate. Too often people are guided by theory without seeing it for what it really is – something they have the power to test, disprove, or develop. Theory can become a barrier to taking a new perspective, experimenting, and discovering.
Social marketing embodies the innovative traits that can lead to real business gains – and pushes the boundaries of “traditional marketing.” It’s the disruptive new darling of a generation of businesses who recognize the value of the individual and are moving away from B2B conventions. It’s the Higgs-boson to Einstein’s relativity. Social marketing is here to promote discovery and experimentation in communications and has the potential to blow conventional marketing theories out of the water.
This is because successful social marketing goes beyond theory and the application of technology. It gets right to the heart of people – not businesses, buyers, and pre-determined demographics. People don’t operate within a marketer’s rational mindset and broad-brush toolset, so neither should social marketing strategy. People react to emotion, they have heart, soul, and personality – and so must a business’ social ambassadors. If done right, social marketing has the power to build an affinity with this online community and tell stories like no other. <
As I mentioned before, I didn’t study theories of marketing and have so always found the gulf between B2B and B2C marketers an odd one. They have different rituals, speak different dialects, and have different images (consumer chic vs. city suits). It’s a case of “same-same but different,” and the “difference” becomes painfully obvious when it comes to how consumer and B2B marketers tell their brand stories.
Consumer marketers interact in a more personal way. They think about what individuals really want, which often means tugging on the heartstrings to build an emotional connection. But as soon as the audience switches to “business,” what’s left is often a disengaged approach lacking emotion, and too heavy on functionality. Quite frankly, business communications become a lecture rather than a conversation.
marketers have the chance to change this via social channels. They need to start thinking about their business audience as individual people – not corporations. Emotional storytelling is a far more effective way of engaging people at a human level, which in turn livens up the business context of your marketing. B2B should be B2C, because at the end of the day you’re still talking to people, regardless of what you’re talking about.
So how do you break down the theoretical barriers?
- Monitor all brands online – forget the division between B2B and B2C and start paying attention to what gets attention and traction.
- Remember that you’re talking to people, not entire businesses – think H2H (human-to-human).
- Treat brand marketing as a conversation, not a one-way broadcast from your brand.
- Use accessible language – jargon doesn’t help anyone understand your business.
- Don’t underestimate the power of social channels in a world where whitepapers, meetings, and seminars require a serious time commitment.
Social marketing is changing the way businesses think and operate. The new principles of business should be governed by experimentation and theory interacting. After all, if social media is the Higgs boson of the marketing world, it has the power to disrupt the norm, and unseat even the most entrenched ways of reaching audiences.