A reader asked me: “How do we modernize our marketing?”

What do you mean by modernize? As my Sunday School teacher said on, uh, Sunday, as he taught about discipleship: “We have to agree specifically on what something means before we discuss it.”

Can I start by answering your question with a question?

What’s wrong?

Why do you feel you need to modernize it?

What are the defining characteristics to you, madam or sir, of modernizing?

Okay, sorry… that was three questions…

It’s an interesting word choice—“modernize”—so what do you think you need? Frankly, I fear I know your answer.

The Trap of New

There’s a real danger in the word “modernizing” your marketing because when we think about modernizing our marketing, we tend to immediately leap towards thoughts like, “Well, I need to be on Snapchat.”

“Oh my gosh, how do we use Snapchat? Cause that’s what everybody is talking about these days!”

The thing is, people don’t necessarily want to hear from you in these new channels. They are using them and enjoy them personally, but if you don’t know who you are, back up your words with actions, and use their channels their way, you’re sure to sink your efforts before they get very far… but (and forgive me, I’ve seen this show, and I know how it ends) you’ll think it was simply the wrong media channel—the wrong people—and you’ll switch to another channel with help from a profiteer who’ll assure you the channel he’s selling “has just the right audience for you!” 

Quickly jumping from one media channel of the month to another is not modernizing your marketing; it’s simply being twitchy.

I think the best way to modernize your marketing is to look squarely at your fundamentals:

Is your entire company crystal clear on what it is you’re trying to make happen?

And does the entire company know the values that matter? Your non-negotiable standards? The ways they need to act to get promoted and ahead in your company?

You want to modernize your marketing, I presume, because you feel the like way you’re working isn’t working, right?

And it’s no wonder! We’re drowning in noise! We’re easily the most distracted generation in the history of the e—SQUIRREL!

Your goals buoyed by your values define your company’s purpose. Your company’s purpose can then be manifest through your systems, policies, and procedures where you show people what you believe through your actions.

Developing consistency throughout the customer experience that reflects your (and your customers’) values builds a modern marketing foundation.

The five new P’s of Modernized Marketing?

  1. Purpose
  2. Persona
  3. Plan
  4. Plot
  5. Position

Know and communicate your purpose (Goals plus Values).

Architect customer personas that specifically match your ideal customers (and employees).

Plan systems, policies, and procedures that manifest your purpose to your personas.

Plot or sequence that plan along every touchpoint of the customer experience.

Position yourself against your competitors. Do you have a Unique Value Proposition? Are you sure? (This is easier said than done… in fact, as my friend, colleague, and marketing genius Jeff Sexton wrote, it’s really difficult to do well, but it can be done.)

But what about media?

When it comes to media, there are so many choices, so many options, so much noise… and there are ten times as many companies willing to sell you these channels to their own benefit (one of the reasons we ask for raises based on our clients’ growth as opposed to how much they spend in marketing).

It’s not about using Snapchat, or maybe it is! But you have to look deeper inside your company first before you ever get to that idea of media channel selection.

To begin to modernize your marketing, you must—paradoxically—first look inward. Know thyself and thy customers. Stand for something. Stand against something. Reflect one or more of your core values every time you interact with a customer.

And we’ll save media channel selection, which I’ve put into three concentric circles of three concentric circles, for another day. You’ve got enough to think about and do for now.