10 Commandments for Marketing in 2009

I’ve been in marketing and advertising for a while and I get a lot of emails, asking for my opinions on everything from branding to social media. To that end, here is my list of what I consider the essential principles of marketing in today’s world.

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1. Thou shalt embrace change.

Like it or not, the tried and true methods of marketing and advertising are gone, baby, gone. At one time, a client could walk into an agency with a wad of cash and the advertising wizards would revitalize his business with a clever TV commercial and possibly a billboard. These days, the successful marketer knows that s/he has to diversify her/his efforts with targeted messages across a variety of platforms that are geared toward the desired demographic – In other words, reaching the customer on his/her level and on his/her chosen turf. To embrace change, if nothing else, increases the likelihood of the marketer’s success by getting the company’s name “out there” and isn’t that really what marketing is all about?

2. Thou shalt utilize inbound marketing.

Thanks to my friends at Hubspot, we now have the term “inbound marketing,” which I love because it’s so descriptive of the average customer’s perception of marketing efforts. Traditional marketing (radio, television, newspaper, telemarketing, pop-up ads, etc.) are outbound in the sense that it is the company reaching out to the customer with no customer selectivity whatsoever. When you think about it, most people find traditional advertising methods about as annoying as receiving a telemarketing call during dinner, hence the advent of conveniences such as caller ID, TIVO, and pop-up blockers. However, successful inbound marketing draws the customer in and lets them actively seek your message. Which would you rather have? A hostile, passive customer? Or one who takes the time to seek you out because they want to hear what you have to say?

3. Thou shalt toot thine own horn. Loudly.

When you publish content, it is critical to get the word out there, otherwise, your blog is like the proverbial tree in the forest – if no one knows it’s out there, does it really matter how artfully crafted your message is? Make use of social media and drive customers to you.

4. Thou shalt embrace technology.

A simple company website is no longer enough – especially when you have blogs, video content, social media, and Google on your side. Your customer wants the full experience before they invest their time and money in whatever you have to offer, so give it to them with both barrels. Just don’t be so clever in your execution that the customer forgets why they went to your site in the first place.

5. Thou shalt get beyond the notion that social media is just for kids.

Ever been on Facebook or MySpace? According to social media researchers, 44% of moms are on Facebook and it’s not just to spy on their kids anymore. How well versed are you in twitter? Did you know that you can use twitter to monitor brand impressions and even gather valuable psychographic data on your target audience? When was the last time you put company videos on YouTube or powerpoint presentations on Slide Share? The point is that your competition is using these vehicles to form intimate bonds with your clients. Are you?

6. Thou shalt be a valuable participant in social media.

I love this analogy – someone once told me to think of participating in social media as you would attending a cocktail party. Mingle with the other users, contribute to the conversation, and form relationships with the other users. Don’t only use social media as a vehicle to plug your latest blog entry, promotion, etc. That’s the fastest way known to man to get blocked by other twitter users.

7. Thou shalt make thine self Google-able.

In case you didn’t know, Google is the most widely used search engine, so it only makes sense to make it your friend. Utilize search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) to slowly, but steadily, drive traffic to your site by carefully using select keywords and links.

8. Thou shalt know thine place.

One of the greatest and most dangerous things about online marketing is that you are in charge of your brand impression. In cyberspace, you can be whoever you want to be. However, some marketers are less than scrupulous with this power and we read about how they over-promise and under-deliver, thus driving away their clientele. Always remember to be as honest in your marketing efforts as you are in your day-to-day operations.

9. Thou shalt keep thine options open.

The world has changed and so have people – priorities and paradigms have shifted. How have you adapted? Have you shifted how you approach your relationships with clients to keep up with the changing times? In order to get the maximum return on your marketing dollars, it’s time to realize that what has always worked for you may not work now.

10. Thou shalt be true to thine brand.

President Obama said in his inaugural address that we need to remember what makes our country great in the first place. To that end, the same extends to marketing. Now that marketers have, literally, hundreds of options before them, it’s time to focus marketing efforts inward and remember what makes our brands great, thereby marketing in a way that makes sense to the brand. This is not a time for half-baked schemes and a willy-nilly approach to marketing. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can market your company in a way that is authentic to your brand’s identity, mission, and audience. Remember, there’s a recession out there, so this is a time for introspection and deliberate action.

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