Recently, I wrote the following piece for a friend of mine who is the creative director for an ad agency in Houston. It was the result of a conversation about how the business of marketing has changed dramatically during the past 10 years due to the internet and blogging.
At the risk of preaching to the choir, I'll share it. We all know the value of the internet and blogging.
The Man and the Village.
Once upon a time, in a village far away, there lived a man. His fellow villagers would make things, bring them to the man and he would tell others about the things his villager friends made. He called the things "products" and the villagers who made the products "manufacturers."
Each day, he would go about the village and tell someone new how wonderful, new, improved and exciting the villagers' products are and asked each of them to tell someone else about the products. Soon, villagers from all the villages far and wide knew how well the products worked and they wanted the products for their very own. And so, the man told the manufacturers to make more and more for the villagers who the products.
One day, the man thought, "If I tell lots of villagers about the products all at the same time, more villagers will learn about the products faster and they will sell more quickly -- and the manufacturers will be happy."
And so it was. The man began shouting his messages from rooftops so more villagers could hear. He held up signs and wore them over his shoulders as he walked down the path. He painted big pictures near the edge of the path between the villages with short, catchy phrases so villagers could see the messages as they walked briskly past the pictures on their way to the nearby village.
He was painting the big pictures one day when he looked down the path and saw another man doing the same. Startled, he approached and asked, "What are you doing?" The second man replied, "Writing ads." "Ads?" he asked. "Yes, ads. Advertisements."
"Uh-huh," said the first man. He looked at the second man's work ... and it was good. It told more about the products and in a clever way. "I must be better," he thought, "more entertaining, funnier -- if I make them laugh and cry the villagers will want my manufacturers' products."
Before long, there were hundreds of ad men painting big pictures along the paths between villages -- all of them shouting from rooftops and wearing signs as they walked down the path. The villagers were distracted by the signs along the paths - so much so that in the villagers found them annoying. They didn't know which of the ads to believe -- if any -- and the shouting from rooftops made neighborly conversation impossible.
The villagers stopped listening. They quit looking at the signs. They no longer believed the ads, the ad men or the manufacturers who made the products. They stopped asking for the products seen in the big, painted pictures and only bought products their fellow villagers told them were good.
Soon, the man had no manufacturers for whom he could paint pictures or products he could shout about from rooftops. Villagers no longer bought those products and the manufacturers had gone bankrupt.
New products emerged, however, with new manufacturers who told people about their products in a different way. This "different" way which was, in truth, an old way. It was word-of-mouth advertising. And while it was an old way, there was a new quality about it: It was done on a massive scale through a network of communication called the internet and through the posting of messages by the villagers on web logs, commonly known as BLOGS.
And life was good for those villagers who made the products and who told other villagers about their products by old-fashioned work-of-mouth advertising. And they told their friends, who told their friends, who told ...
The moral of the story: It is no longer enough to entertain to get your message through.
Today, consumers are skeptical of the messages they see and hear in broadcast advertising, glossy magazines and radio jingles. More than ever, the good word from a friend carries more weight than the creations of ad men. Today, the most effective marketing is the word passed from villager to villager and from village to village.
Building a marketing communications strategy today is considerably more complex than even 5 years ago. Now, an effective marketing program must include not only targeted mass media but a grass-roots effort as well; a one-on-one interaction with potential buyers and communicated on a massive scale.
For more information on my real estate and marketing background, visit http://www.donphelan.com/Nav.aspx/Page=/About/Default.aspx