3 “big rules” of 21st century marketing

July 30, 2010

In a recent post I talked about some signs your marketing is outdated. Today I’ll share some tips on updating your marketing for the 21st century:

Big Rule #1: Make it about people.

Build community. Clients, customers and prospective students and program participants are bombarded with options. Every day. Give them a place to belong and they’ll not only come to you, they’ll stay a while.

Eliminate the sales talk. It’s old. It’s tired. It’s annoying. Yes, you still need to sell services or products, but fast-talking sales pitches are out. The pushy sales approach is now considered harsh and insensitive to the other’s needs. Well, it always was that way, but now people have completely lost their tolerance for it.

Add a human element. I started talking about this when the first edition of 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program came out in 2002. Some people balked then, saying they didn’t have time for that; it took too much effort and there was not enough return on investment (ROI). My answer: If you don’t have time for other people, why would you expect them to have time for you? It’s about people. For example, on your website, list the names of people who hold positions of leadership. People want to connect with other people, not with some big (or small) organization they know nothing about.

Big Rule #2: Build trust

Give away a sample. Ever been to one of those big-box grocery stores and they’re giving away samples at the end of every aisle? Why are they doing this? Because people love to try new things. If they try it, and they like it, they’ll buy it. If they’re not sure, the chances of them buying it goes down. How do you do this if you have a service-based business? Offer a free workshop, webinar or class. Let people try you without risk.

Ask for testimonials. Ask prior clients for testimonials about your work. In order to be considered reliable a testimonial has to have the name, and preferably also the organization (or at least the city) of the person giving it. Testimonials need to be authentic in order to be credible.

Stick around. Doing consistent marketing over time is what gets results. People will trust you more once you’ve been around a while. In my experience, it takes at least a few months of consistent marketing, relationship building and community building before much happens. I’ve had clients come back to me years after an initial conversation or short contract. If I wasn’t still around, they couldn’t work with me, now could they?

Big Rule #3: Leave a digital footprint

Have a web site. Are you laughing when you read this? I still meet services organizations that do not have a website. Seriously! There’s no excuse today not to have a website. If you can’t afford your own domain, then start a blog through a service like WordPress or Blogger.

Use social media. You don’t have to be a social media addict, but it does help if you have a web presence. Social media isn’t going away. Learn to use it to your advantage, rather than resisting what is here to stay.

Be “Google-able”. Where do you look when you want to find out more about a product, service or an organization? On line. Where do you think other people look when they want to find out about you? The same place. You don’t need to pay a lot of money for “SEO optimization”. Just be out there. A website and using social media are good way to start.


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New York Times: Learning a language on the web is trendy

July 29, 2010

“The Internet, with its unparalleled ability to connect people throughout the world, is changing the way that many people learn languages” writes Peter Wayner in Learning a Language From an Expert, on the Web, an article from the New York Times (July 28, 2010).

The article touches on 2 of the themes that emerged in my study Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century:

  • Using technology in language learning (new trend)
  • Taking an individualized, learner-centered approach (new trend)
  • Saying that learning languages is easy (outdated myth)

The way we learn languages is changing at a rapid pace. A new school year is approaching. What techniques, methodologies and approaches are you going to use that are appropriate for the 21st century?


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7 signs your marketing is outdated

July 28, 2010

Marketing and promotion has changed tremendously in the past decade. Here are some indicators that your marketing is “sooooo 20th Century!”

  1. Buying print ads. Unless your ad is very targeted to an audience that reads the print material, and offers a direct benefit, print ads have lost their impact.
  2. Direct mail. The campaigns have a very low return on investment.
  3. Cold calling. People resist telemarketers like the plague.
  4. E-mail spam. Do you hate spam? So does everyone else. If you do mass e-mail, you’re not only outdated, you’re likely losing customers because you’ve ticked off the person on the other end.
  5. Spending money with no deliverables. Spend your marketing dollars on things that will get you a trackable return on your investment.
  6. A “Buy me! Buy me!” approach. There’s no faster turn off in today’s world.
  7. Focusing on your products. If the writing in your marketing materials start with “This service…”, “This course…”, “This program…”, or “This product…”, your writing style is outdated and likely to make others tune out.

If you’re still doing these things, your marketing may not be effective because it’s not current. If it’s not current, it won’t have an impact in today’s world.

Next time I’ll share some simple, easy ways to make sure your marketing and promotions are optimized for the 21st century.


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