Last updated: Sell smarter: The changing role of marketing and advertising

Sell smarter: The changing role of marketing and advertising

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For most marketers, the traditional role of advertising is to build awareness, shape brand perception and drive sales. In this traditional marketing model sales result from promoting your product(s), service(s) and unique value proposition. While this has historically been a successful way to build and grow a brand, today it has become an ineffective and inefficient way to practice advertising for two reasons.

First, it’s out of touch with modern sales principles and best practices. And second, this traditional approach is too focused on “image” at a time when image is a superficial and unsustainable competitive point of difference.

Adapting modern sales principles and best practices to marketing

Would you believe that greater brand sales success is possible when your marketing and advertising objective isn’t to sell? It may sound hard to believe but let me explain why it’s in fact true. In a study of 35,000 sales calls conducted by Huthwaite, Inc. researchers found that “the best way to sell is not to sell at all.” In fact, today’s most successful and highly effective sales people spend very little time telling people about the features and benefits of the products and services they offer.

Instead the most effective sales people spend most of their time trying to identify, understand, explore and resolve the problems their customers face. They ask good questions but in fact talk very little about themselves and their product. And when they do talk they tell stories that make a solution easy for people to understand. Unfortunately, most of today’s brand marketing and advertising does just the opposite.
Everywhere you look there are brands aggressively promoting their products and services by talking about their features and benefits.

Theses marketers still believe if they assert their brand value proposition strong enough and repeat their message often enough it will drive sales. Most of the time it doesn’t and it won’t. Highly effective salespeople already know that telling stories that focus on the problem your audience is facing, rather than on the product or service you have to sell, is a much more effective way to connect with and engage your consumers.

Isn’t it time we as marketers let go of the outdated notion that advertising’s role is to sell the unique features and benefits of your brand? Embrace the fact that telling a story about the problem your audience cares about will help your brand sell more without trying so hard to sell.

Why brand behavior is more important than image

While traditional advertising practices set out to define, build and control a brand’s image, marketers no longer operate in a world where brands completely control the message. We live in a world where information is at people’s fingertips and instantly available. From their smartphones, tables and computers people share their experiences, good and bad, along with their attitudes and feelings through a LIKE, status update, tweet or post.

It’s a world where transparency matters. Brands that promise one thing in their advertising but deliver something else face immediate criticism. And sometimes this criticism quickly grows into condemnation, outrage and crisis that can damage or destroy a brand’s image and reputation in a matter of hours.

This means the story people tell about your brand is primarily based on their experience with the products and services you deliver. It is also why it is so important that you tell a story that is authentic, meaningful and relevant to your customers and the people you’d like to buy your brand. Stories are how consumers sort through all the traditional marketing clutter and hype that bombards their everyday life.
Smart salespeople are using the power of a well told story to win over people’s hearts and minds. The future growth of your brand lies in your willingness to stop forcing your marketing and advertising to play a role that breeds consumer distrust and skepticism.

Let go of the belief that the role of your marketing and advertising is to promote your brand’s unique features and benefits, and embrace the idea that telling a clear, simple and emotional story of how your brand helps people resolve a problem or challenge will have far greater impact on future growth.

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