By Andrew Lester, Managing Partner of Carr-Michael Consulting

It is clearly ridiculous to think that the digital communications age has turned marketing upside down: it hasn’t. What it has done however is add further opportunities to be exploited and some potential traps to be avoided. But the fact remains that successful marketing in 2011 will have to take account of the social and digital media in increasingly sophisticated ways, alongside doing your basic marketing well.

Do not let the hype of new media stop you from delivering excellent customer value and make sure you solve their real and perceived needs better than the next guy. In so doing your marketing activities must continue to reflect the true needs of your customers. All aspects of the relationship they have with you must be consistent with your company ethos and brand values. Not only should your products (or services) do “exactly what it says on the tin”, everything your company does should be consistent with the brand offer: administrations should be accurate and timely, service support should be polite professional and effective etc...).

The real benefit of new media therefore, is not in jumping onto it as fast as possible, but in using elements of it as part of a balanced and consistent marketing approach that further builds the authenticity of your company and its products. An example: Carr-Michael is often asked by our clients how we can help them develop a viral marketing programme. Most times, behind the question is a belief that viral marketing is the golden bullet that will produce an abundance of sales at very low (or no) cost. Very often it is asked by people who have little or no knowledge of new media, but who think that because it is digital it must be good. This is not the case. The biggest cost with any viral marketing programme is not the cost of producing a suitable clip, it is the damage to sales of exaggerating the product’s benefits and being found out. If the viral message is not authentic it will be exposed quickly as a fraud and the backlash will be devastating. Very few products have been successful with viral marketing campaigns but those that have, have grabbed the headlines. The truth is that for the vast majority of businesses viral marketing is not relevant. The trick is to know which of the tools available from new media are right for your business, and use them in conjunction with established activities to retain credibility and authenticity in everything that you do.

Please feel free to comment by contacting me: andrewlester@carr-michael.com. Andrew Lester is Managing Partner of Carr-Michael Consulting, specialists in growth management and business performance improvement.

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