How to Market When Traditional Rules No Longer Apply

By Benji Hyam

The marketing ecosystem is changing — are you going to be an innovator or get left behind in the dust?

A New Marketing Landscape

“I’ve never seen a time in my life where change has been so radical, so fast and so dramatic. Think about it — industries are advancing, ideas are changing, products are morphing, and your customers are moving on. It’s a lot like space travel; nothing is remaining still.”

— Michael Stelzner, Founder of

However, with all of this change, Stelzner said there’s one thing that remains constant: people. People will always want access to great insight, access to other great people and recognition … and they want all of this before they want your products and services.

The Problem With Traditional Marketing

Traditional push marketing strategies are becoming less and less effective because every customer gets bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day. As a result, the majority of customers are tuning out and even trying to hide from all of this messaging.

Stelzner says that “channel overload from companies has led to decreased trust in the brand from the consumer.” In fact, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only one in three people trust brands and marketers.

So How Can You Gain Back the Trust of Your Consumer?

The simple answer: Help people with their smaller problems so they look to you for their bigger issues.

For example, at Vistage, we try to help small businesses owners with their smaller problems. Mike identified the need for social media help for small businesses and delivers daily information on social media through his website Social Media Examiner.

He solves their smaller problems with his daily updated blog, and then holds more advanced training and consulting as a paid service to solve bigger issues for small businesses. This is the strategy he used to grow his business to more than $1.7 million in revenues in just two years with only content, and no advertising.

The Elevation Principle — Stelzner’s Formula for Growth:

Great Content + Other People – Marketing Messages = Growth

Great Content: Invest in creating quality content for your company. There are two types of content:

    • Primary Fuel: The content you regularly produce that helps push your company forward (e.g., how-to articles, reviews, blog posts, short videos, etc.)
  • Nuclear Fuel: Content used less frequently that has a greater impact (e.g., industry reports, contests)

Other People:

Are you focusing on outside experts to help you create great content? Rather than focusing on creating content about YOUR PRODUCTS and YOUR SERVICES, focus on creating products that will solve your customers’ problems. Look to industry experts, people inside your organization who have an expertise in a specific area, authors, bloggers, etc. to help you create that content.

Remove Marketing Messages:

Stelzner shared this example: “How many times have you been to a website and all you see is banner ads and pop up ads? You can’t look at the content itself because all this different stuff is taking away from your attention. It makes it really hard to receive the content as a true gift.” We as business owners and marketers need to shift from “how can we sell you” to “how can we help you?” If you can do this you will gain new clients, and loyalty.

What Can YOU, As a Small Business Owner, Do to Gain New Clients and Trust?

Answer: Focus on creating content that solves your consumers’ problems.

Start by creating content that can be used for your website, blog, newsletter, e-mail, podcast, etc. Think of questions that your clients ask you on a regular basis and create a blog post or page on your website answering those questions. The main goal of this is to provide value to your customer, and NOT to sell! Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Start generating how-to articles that help solve your consumers’ problems for your industry. Post them on your company blog or reach out to other blogs to get your articles published.
  • Review books or material from prominent authors in your industry and share your voice on the topic.

And remember, each piece of content can be re-purposed in many different formats! Since people receive information in different ways, you can use your content more than once. Start with a video or podcast, transcribe the information into a blog post and send that blog post out to your e-mail list. By doing this you will save time by re-purposing your content for multiple channels of communication.
Originally published: Dec 14, 2011

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