Sales and Sales Management Blog

November 12, 2007

Personal Marketing is Dead: an Aside on an IBM Report (the seventh in a series on personal marketing)

Filed under: Personal Marketing,prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 5:52 pm

I ran across a very interesting report that was recently released by IBM called “The End of Advertising as We Know It”.  You can find it here.  This was brought to my attention on Craig Klein’s Sell, Sell, Sell blog.

IBM’s study has some very interesting stats and even more interesting conclusions—and they seem to be getting as much flak about their report from advertising agencies as I am about this series from salespeople.  

And although the report deals with advertising, they are dealing with the same thing I’m dealing with—a drastically changing marketplace.  

Their conclusion is the same as mine—the way we communicate with prospects must change if we want to reach them.  Consumers are rejecting traditional marketing—not just the personal marketing I’ve been discussing, but all marketing.

According to their study, consumers, business and individual, are rejecting “interruption marketing” in greater and greater numbers.  The traditional formats of trying to reach out to prospects, from cold calling to advertisements, are increasingly inefficient in reaching prospects because those using these formats are trying to reach prospects through methods prospects no longer are willing to pay attention.  Prospects reject the message because they reject the format used to communicate the message.

Now, certainly, IBM is more pessimistic about traditional marketing than I am.  They see radical change in the marketplace within 5 years.  I think traditional marketing is dying–but a slower pace, although I do think it its demise will be far more advanced in 5 years than it is today.  

What I find particularly interesting isn’t that IBM is anticipating the same marketplace change I am, but that they are experiencing the same resistance to that message that I am.  I’m not getting resistance from sales executives, for they see the same problems ahead that I see.  As a matter of fact, they are often in agreement with IBM that it is literally right around the corner; and they are desperately trying to figure out their strategy to deal with it.  

Rather, the resistance I’m getting is directly from salespeople—the people who will be most affected by this change.  I have received emails from enraged salespeople that could probably be best described as “hate” email.  They react very emotionally to the idea that the market is changing and that they must change the way they approach prospects–or if the don’t, their sales career will eventually die.  

The idea that consumers are rejecting traditional prospecting and marketing methods is anathema to them.  It is beyond possibility, and anyone who suggests it will happen must be a crackpot.  After all, what’s more American that a good old cold to interrupt dinner or distract you from the report you are working on?

Yet, the evidence is piling up—the market is changing and changing rapidly.  If salespeople and companies want to be successful in the new sales environment, they must learn to communicate with prospects in a format the prospect will accept.  No longer do we live in an environment where marketers can dictate when and how prospects will be marketed to—it’s a new world.  Prospects now dictate how and when they’ll accept a marketing message, and increasing that message had better be educational and from a source, they recognize as authoritative.  

Personal marketing really is dead—it is simply a matter of figuring out when the funeral will be held.

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