I just returned from the best conference I’ve been to in a long time, Next Generation Marketing in Berlin.
I learned a lot and hung out with some of the thought leaders in social networking, including keynote speaker, Chris Brogan. Chris is a prolific blogger, co-author of the best-seller “Trust Agents”, and advisor-not-expert on social media.
“Oh, no,” he shudders. “I don’t like that word, ‘expert’.”
He liked the quote I often cite, “The true master is an eternal student.”
It’s apparent that Chris is brilliant. It’s refreshing that he doesn’t need to prove it. Instead, he makes you feel comfortable and listened to, which is one of the driving themes in his blog, books and keynotes. So he practices what he preaches.
He’ll be the first to tell you we were surrounded by a lot of brilliant people, conference speakers and attendees alike. (I wish I could mention them all and keep this post in context.) Chris is happy to share his knowledge, online and in person, but he’s also a sponge. In a kind of youthful curiosity, he keeps his eyes and ears open.
And that’s where I want to go now (after burying my lead with “I’m in with the in crowd”).
A common thread running throughout “Next Generation Marketing” was that the first objective for marketers using social media platforms is to listen.
Even the once-traditional Kodak, which has seemingly resucitated itself from the Ashes of Analog, puts listening first in its own five-pronged approach to social media, as Madlen Nicolaus, Head of Social Media EMEA outlined. Kodak social media strategy is designed to:
- Be Real
This is what I find exciting about next generation marketing generally and social media specifically:
The emerging tools for social media excellence parallel the time-tested tools for sales excellence.
The tools are different, revolutionary, but the spirit is timeless.
In the past, mediocre salespeople could survive by pitching first and trying to get to close as soon as possible, but the best salespeople never did.
In the Brave New World, there is no room for it. “Pitchers and closers need not apply.” Today, it’s about listening, diagnosing, building a solution, and agreeing ways to move forward.
Likewise, the days of broadcasting your product’s attributes — and even micro-casting them — are waning. Consumers don’t want it, and corporate buyers don’t have time for it.
So, can the marketing departments and the sales departments of today function in silos?
I don’t think so. Not if they’re going to gain a strategic advantage through their commercial processes per se.
Rick Segal, Worldwide Head of Gyro HSR, said something I hadn’t quite heard before, but being a Seamless Advocate, it resonated with me the moment he said it. “Salespeople are out managing focus groups with customers every day. If the marketing department isn’t paying attention, well, they’re squandering a built-in research tool.”
This is where we need to be as scrappy consultants, independents and start-ups, in both our marketing and our selling.
It takes a a lot of energy for major corporations to improve their macro-listening while making each customer feel special.
But if major corporations can do it, Brave New Entrepreneurs can do it, too.
Photo: Chris Brogan on left. Irina Kremin, founder of conference organizer KGS, center. BraveNewSales Advocate on right, hanging out with the #B2BEU Crowd. Man, did I learn a lot. (Man, do I have a lot of work to do!)