Sales and Sales Management Blog

October 20, 2007

Personal Marketing is Dead: The Media is Killing Personal Marketing (the fourth of a series on personal marketing)

Filed under: Personal Marketing,prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 12:50 pm

If over the coming years, personal marketing as we’ve know it is going to die, what specifically is going to kill it?  There are four movements afoot that combined will destroy the individual salesperson’s ability to effectively market:  the media, the internet, corporations, and salespeople themselves.

Let’s take the media and the internet as a starting point.

Historically, consumer’s access to information has been fairly limited.  Individuals have had access to a limited collection of information outlets:  newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and books.  Business has had access to the same media supplemented with industry specific periodicals and the occasional white paper.

Until just a few years ago all of these resources have been very limited.  Television, prior to the explosion of cable, virtually ignored educational subjects such as personal finances, and business coverage consisted mostly of stock reports.  Radio was even more limited.  Newspapers and magazines, other than industry specific publications, concentrated on broad subjects that appealed to a large audience with little in-depth coverage of minute subject matter.

Over the past decade, this information landscape has changed tremendously, primarily due to the internet and advances in digital publication technology.  No longer must a consumer wishing to investigate a potential purchase either seek out information from a salesperson or make a special trip to the library.  Today’s consumer has more information at their fingertips than any one consumer could ever hope to digest.

Consumers are flooded with information on any subject they can imagine through a great many sources.  Cable TV now has informational shows on everything from personal finances to the most complex business issues.  Specialized publications cater to almost any interest a consumer could have.  Radios are filled with shows geared toward educating people on finances, every type of personal and business problem, legal issues, car decisions, and anything else one might have questions about.  And with the advent of self-publishing and digital technology, more books  and magazines than ever before are being published every year. 

And this information isn’t being provided by a salesperson who may seek to slant it to create the impression that their product or service is superior or less expensive than the competition’s.  The information consumers receive today is written by individuals who are viewed as experts in their industry.  The information given is viewed as far more reliable and far less biased than that provided by salespeople.

Moreover, most consumers who do their own research search out a number of experts in order to get several opinions before making a purchasing decision.

These consumers are extremely well informed.  They have more information at their fingertips and in many cases know more about the subject they exploring than the majority of salespeople they could speak with. 

Although this group of do-it-yourself consumers is still relatively small, the number is growing exponentially every year and will continue to grow at phenomenal rates for the foreseeable future as more and more individual and business consumers seek to make decisions based on what they believe is unbiased information.

The reliance on experts for advice and guidance is greater than ever before because the expert’s opinions and information is more accessible than ever.  As decisions become more complicated and the possible solutions become equally more complicated, a greater and greater number of consumers are seeking out the advice and opinions of experts, while at the same time, fewer and fewer are turning to salespeople for information or guidance..

This shift to an expert based decision influencing environment is in its infancy, having only really begun in earnest in the first couple of years of the 21st century.  Its full fruition is still years away.  But it is a swiftly growing trend that threatens to kill sales as it is practiced today.

Rather than “selling” and “marketing,” the salesperson must learn to become an educator and must develop an image and reputation that will give them the same status as the experts consumers are relying on for information.  Consumers are no longer satisfied with biased marketing and sales tactics.  They want real information.  They want real trustworthy advice.  They don’t want to be sold anything by anyone.

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