Monday Mornings with Madison

Something Old. Something New.

Part 1 – Mixing Old and New Strategies To Achieve Success

There was an old English rhyme that said “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, And A Sixpence in your Shoe.”  It was told to brides on their wedding day.  Something old represented continuity.  Something new offered optimism for the future.  Something borrowed symbolized borrowed happiness that came with becoming part of a new family.  Something blue stood for love and loyalty.  And, a sixpence in your shoe was meant as a wish for good fortune and prosperity.  The tradition was that brides who did these things on their wedding day would have a happy and successful marriage.

Most business owners and entrepreneurs surely hope for the same happiness and success in business as brides do in marriage.  For the next two weeks, we’ll apply the saying to business as we think about what has worked in the past and what new things to try in 2012.  This week, we’ll start by rethinking an old – but valuable – marketing strategy that helps promote brand continuity.  We’ll also investigate a new marketing trend that is helping customers connect to businesses in a new way, generating a new optimism about brand marketing for the future.

Something Old.

We hear that the old ways of marketing and selling are dead in the wake of social media and the Internet. While much has changed, some old strategies are still very effective.  According to Marketing Sherpa’s research, websites, webinars, email, SEO and PR are among the top strategies used by businesses today. 

B2B Marketing Tactics

While email, SEO, webinars and websites are relatively new strategies (around for less than two decades), Public Relations is definitely ‘something old’.  Although the earliest instances of PR date back to the 18th century, it is still effective for 9 out of 10 companies today.  How PR is being implemented is definitely changing but the basic premise is still the same.  In fact, with social media venues sprouting and spreading like weeds, PR is probably even more effective and important to business success today than ever before.  PR helps a brand stay top-of-mind with customers.  It also keeps the lines of communication open between the company and customers.  Digital technology has made it easier than ever to do PR and, when combined with cutting-edge SEO and social media strategies, can leverage a company’s connection to the public to the umpteenth power. 

As you consider this ‘oldie but goodie,’ ask yourself these probing questions.  When’s the last time your company gave PR any thought?  When was the last time your company sent out a Press Release or disseminated a Calendar Listing?  Have all your company’s releases and internal articles been posted to your company website?  Did you post any published articles on your website News page?  Just make sure that you buy the rights before you post anything that’s been published. 

Something New.

Companies on the cutting-edge are crossing PR with content marketing and taking it to the next level with a new strategy dubbed “brand journalism.”  What is brand journalism, and how is it different from content marketing?  According to a panel discussion at the annual 2011 SXSW Conference, brand journalism was described as:

  • an editorial approach to brand building
  • a nonfiction attempt at advertising
  • content created while thinking more like publishers and journalists
  • real time marketing; brands acting as media in real time, as life happens
  • companies assuming the responsibility of helping their customers succeed

Sounds odd?  The purpose of brand journalism is to tell stories, but this method of content marketing emphasizes a neutral tone, lending credibility and trust to the brand. The story-telling tone does not slant to favor the company’s brand, nor is every piece promoting an aspect of the company directly.  Stories can be about industry leaders, trends, or events too – anything that would be deemed newsworthy to the target audience, in the editorial sense, but somehow related to the brand.

That’s the key to brand journalism – taking out the middleman by thinking like the middleman (in this case, the journalists).  Nissan is one company that has adopted brand journalism full force. They hired a group of journalists, downsized from news organizations, to run the Nissan newsroom. Their goal was actually to kill press releases and instead tell their own stories.  These journalists-turned-publicists were asked to offer value, think of all audiences, and not necessarily always talk about the company or the company’s products.  The goal was to produce excellent content that would tell stories and build trust.  Ford is doing it as well.  All of their television ads regarding the Ford Focus now tell stories about their customers’ experiences with their vehicle. 

Ultimately, the notion is that while no customer will give three seconds to a brand today, they’ll give 30 minutes to listen to a good story.  While this may not be actual journalism, it is contact that can be revealing, informational, and uses journalistic platforms and formats. 

Stay tuned next week as we examine some techniques borrowed from other successful businesses as a way of learning from the wisdom of others.  We’ll also circle to some true blue strategies that have withstood the test of time.  We hope these suggestions will add more than a six-pence to any business and create greater fortune and prosperity. 

Quote of the Week
“Do not let spacious plans for a new world divert your energies from saving what is left of the old.” Winston Churchill

© 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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