marketing in the 21st century isn’t that different from the 20th century

The end of the 2oth century brought with it incredible change.

International travel became common, investing became a great way to add to your wealth, MP3s were born, the Internet gave us access to information previously only held by a few countries and organizations, email allowed us to keep in touch faster, chat moved online and so much more.

Today we find ourselves 12 years into the new century and a good question we should always ask ourselves is what principles and ideas still work in this new world?

Has the formula for success changed?

Have we outgrown the ideas created by such forward-thinkers as Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford and Earl Nightingale?

Success has many different faces.

There is success at home, success in business, success inside (otherwise known as piece of mind), success in society and success with one’s health.

I could go into any one of those 5 areas,  but I thought I’d address success in business and, more specifically, marketing and answer that exact question.

These days more and more businesses have turned to the Internet as their main focus of advertising their product but is that the way to go?

Does it depend on what product or service we have?

Both fair questions.

This is what I’ve uncovered.

First and foremost, we must accept that the Internet is here to stay. It’s not a passing trend, it’s the present and the future.

When any new technology comes out there is a waiting period.

Some survive, most vanish. Take the iPod. It wasn’t the first MP3 player (came out three years later), nor was it the most successful to begin with…but it’s still around and began Apple’s meteoric rise.

The Internet has been around for quite some time now and thanks to smartphones and the iPad more and more people are turning to the Internet for their source of news, shopping, information and communication.

Companies without a website are getting left behind. And, more and more, just what type of site you have will play a big part in your success.

About 10 years ago companies spent big bucks to design intricate websites to differentiate themselves from their competitors. What companies have learned since then is that people don’t really need all the bells and whistles although Website creators may try and sell you on them.

Today it’s all about what your site has to offer to its clients. In a word – content.

Take this site. There’s a tab for sending email directly to me, which more and more companies are adopting because people want to be in touch with the companies they choose to do business with.

I’ve also got a few videos so people can get an idea of who I am.

Then there’s a blog, which for most small businesses is a must. That doesn’t mean it has to be done every day, but it does have to be updated on a regular basis. 4 times a month is usually considered the bear minimum. Why is this so important? Because people want to see that there is activity. They want to see that the people who work there care.

A few friends of mine overlook this and have some telltale signs on their sites which could come back to bite them in time if they’re not careful.

  • Dates for the most recent information being labeled “April 2007” is not good.
  • Long gaps with no activity (say more than a month) runs the risk of labeling the company too busy to care OR too incompetent to notice.
  • Low quality photographs (today an iPhone can take more than decent pics)

Clients today turn to the Internet first which is why your site is often the clients first impression of you and your business.

With that said, that doesn’t mean a business should rely entirely on their site to get them new clientele.

You need to get traffic there and if you rely on a Google search to find you then you might be in for some stiff competition.

So how can we boost those numbers?

Then there’s simple things that can help give your company a boost.

  • Gifts to foster good will with your clients (if you have personalized wrapping even better) and help spread the word (makes you memorable)
  • Flyers (delivered via newspapers or handed out at a local event, ie. convention)
  • The phone book (ie. Yellow Pages) – many older people are comfortable with old technology
  • Billboards – still a great way to be seen in your area
  • Google Adwords
  • Podcasts (great way to distribute information)

Obviously the last two are relatively new ways to people to take notice, but the others are plain and simple 20th century ideas that still work.

Remember, most people are shifting to digital which means you’ll be able to get rock-bottom prices for such services and there will be much less competition. Remember the goal is the spread your net as far and as wide as you can (in your target area) and you can do so by hitting a variety of formats.

By doing so it reinforces people’s belief about your business.

Now I know what you’re going to ask next – Do I do all of these? I wish I could say I did, but I’m still working on getting these done.

I will say that I have invested a sizable amount of money into my own education on the topic of marketing (among one of them) and can now create professional looking websites within a very short period of time. (saving me the cost of hiring a web designer)

I have also investigated the costs involved in other formats and have created my own marketing plan which is actually another key to marketing that hasn’t changed.

A plan sets you apart from 90% of other businesses out there. Most people just start and do this and that with no clear goal in mind. The problem is then that although their net may be large, there are often big gaps in much of what they do.

Marketing has gotten harder since the invent of the Internet. It gives the consumer better access to companies. The customers today expect more than they did in the past out of the businesses they choose to spend their money with.

We need to give more and the more we do, the more we separate ourselves from the competition.

People often ask me if I’m worried about competitors opening similar businesses in my area or new websites, taking clients away from me. My answer is always the same. I’m not worried because I offer something that no other person does in my area – a quality service.

But I do have to keep an eye on my competitors in order to ensure that I stay two steps ahead of them, always putting quality first.

I hope that comes across here on this site as it does in all my businesses.

Today the rules of business have changed so companies need to adjust accordingly, but the fundamentals are still very effective.

To me, it’s a three equation, formula: QP + QS + M = IS. (quality product plus quality service plus marketing equals incredible success)

Good luck.

Adrian Shepherd

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