Surprise! The internet made you a commodity — and what to do about it.

Nobody likes to be called a commodity.  To quote my best first grade pal, Dougy, “I know you are but what am I?!”

Yes, the truth is both of us, you and I, are commodities, and we have the internet to blame.   To be precise, we have online search to blame.   And search is a larger part of buying decisions than it’s every been.  Ouch!

Why We’re Commodities:

Search on “marketing consultant.”  Actually, you probably did.

And there I am!  Awesome, right?   The problem is, so were 18 other marketing consultants, right next to me.  Not because they have my experience or expertise.  But they’re there, and just like that, I became a commodity.

It gets worse.

As you read this you are a click away from going back to that list.

But you already know that.  It’s not important that you know, it’s important that your marketing changes because if it!

Why Your Marketing Must Change:

Marketing as generally practiced today is based on a premise that isn’t true anymore for a larger and larger portion of people looking for what you sell.

The premise that isn’t true anymore- You see my marketing message in an ad, brochure, mailer, trade show, etc., with some degree of separation from my competitors.  They may be in the same magazine, they may send you mailers too, but you won’t see 18 ads for marketing consultants on consecutive magazine pages or receive 18 mailers on the same day.   The reality- My marketing message lives on a Google search page right next to 18 of my competitors.  Like getting 18 mailers the same day or picking up a magazine with 18 consecutive ads.

The problem– We all sound the same right next to each other, so the “traditional” message that used to differentiate us — quality, experience, cheaper, service, whatever — doesn’t differentiate us anymore.  We are transitioning away from a traditional feature/function/benefit approach to marketing (quality, experience, cheaper, service, whatever) to one of  being, transparency and experience.  When prospects used to say “Let’s call Hamilton because he’s worked with software developers before” they’re saying today “I don’t know, I like what he’s saying, I like his approach, let’s call Hamilton.”

How to Change Your Marketing:

Give more concern to how you express who you really are than listing what you do.  Give more concern to every little thing that’s part of the sales cycle experience and the customer experience.

I know that sounds, well, less specific an a bit more lofty than you’d hoped.  I agree.  But describing how to do that is like describing how to successfully grow a garden.  You can’t, really.  Because you need to be out there watching the garden, often, and making adjustments as you go.

Just like with your marketing.  I can give you the basics (much of that’s here).  I can teach you parts of it.  I can do it with you.  But I can’t tell you how to do that with your marketing here.   Better to just start.  Be more real, more authentic, more open.  Push yourself to better understand (completely understand) the experience of using your website and contacting you.  Remove the barriers in that process.  Ditto for the process of interacting with you as an active prospect and then as a customer.

Hard stuff.  Lots of little things.  More like tending a garden than the let’s-do-another-brochure approach to growing sales.  The good news is this process is generally cheaper than the another-brochure, a-larger-ad, another-mailing approach.

More of my posts to help clarify this:

What do you think?  Do you approach online the same way you approach offline, traditional marketing?

3 thoughts on “Surprise! The internet made you a commodity — and what to do about it.

  1. Laura Hill

    Congrats on being in the top five sites when I googled “Marketing Consulting” and thanks for your thoughtful post. I really like the image of tending the garden. Makes sense and is an accessible concept.
    Thanks!
    Laura

  2. hamilton Post author

    Thanks for your kind words, Laura. And, tending a garden is becoming an more and more accurate metaphor for marketing these days.

  3. Damien Town

    Hi Hamilton
    Like Linda I found your article by Googling the same thing. So with 1 billion Google searches everyday I found you and this would be my case in point for Inbound Marketing. The days of telemarketing and direct mail are fading fast. Think AMEX and how they stopped their DM campaign when the ROI dropped from a peak of 5% to less than 1% in 2008.
    Keep up the great writing!
    Damien

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *