Learning Lessons All Over Again

By Scott Flood

There’s a tendency among people in business — particularly younger people — to assume that lessons learned in the past have little value when applied to today. That’s especially true when it comes to marketing.

Yes, channels such as email marketing and social media have been developed relatively recently. But the basic psychology that makes them work is as old as humanity itself. Skilled marketers know that the medium is far less important than the message being conveyed … and how that message reaches the audience.

In other words, you might be more likely to send an email message to a prospective customer in place of a long direct mail letter. However, the tactics that were used in that direct mail letter can be just as powerful in that email message. The reason is that the recipient’s emotions and actions are governed by the same forces that affected her counterparts of a generation ago.

We don’t buy things because someone posted the details on social media or put them on a website. We buy them because we believe they’ll fulfill a need we have or help us overcome a challenge. Perhaps the item will make us feel smarter, safer, more confident, or less fearful. Maybe it’s going to make our work more efficient or more profitable.

You may think of persuasion, propaganda, and salesmanship as old-fashioned concepts that don’t stand a chance in a gee-whiz world of new technology. Guess what? Those fundamental understandings and strategies are as effective as ever. The marketers who combine that time-proven knowledge with the new channels are the ones who will dominate their competitors.

Of course, there are many people who chuckle as they read that statement, claiming that anything older than them must be obsolete and useless. I wish them well, because they’re going to make a lot of mistakes before they arrive upon the same knowledge. I just hope they aren’t making those mistakes at your expense.