The marketing paradigm has shifted for consumers and brands.

Consumers have expectations from brands today they didn’t have just five years ago. Marketers have access to communication and engagement channels they didn’t have five years ago to listen and meet consumer expectations. Marketing executives need to have keen insight into the most effective ways to reach and engage their audience and turn them into loyal and raving customers. Following are four marketing paradigms every marketing executive should embrace or risk losing customer preference to competitors who embrace these marketing paradigms.

Social business

Marketing is not a department. The entire organization should understand their role and participate in the marketing process.

A social business is one that exhibits the following characteristics:

  1.  Executive level support to embrace a transparent approach to marketing with active participation from all levels of management.
  2.  A commitment to a content strategy that involves all customer-facing departments – no exceptions.
  3.  An understanding that social media channels are a means to an end and therefore play a vital role in delivering content and permitting engagement with your audience.
  4.  Intense use of tools and technologies that facilitate development of content, social sharing, social engagement and measurement of outcomes.
  5.  Keen analysis of data for insight into reach, sentiment, engagement with your target audience and lead intelligence including closed loop marketing.

Few organizations can genuinely say they are a social business as of this writing. Dell, IBM, Starbucks, Ford Motor Company are a few to observe. Smaller companies are positioned better to embrace social business principles with fewer layers of culture to change compared to large businesses with thousands of employees.

Employee branding

Encouraging employees to build their personal brand is good business. Organizations who constrict employees from building their personal brand are constricting their own brand. All businesses are made up of people and most employees have a digital presence. For a business to think they can restrict employees from using social media channels during work hours is naive. Instead, organizations should create guidelines and boundaries to encourage employees to develop their brand in such a way that both parties benefit – the employee and the employer. A well aligned branding plan between employee and employer can have a “halo effect” on the brand.

One way to embrace employee branding is by encouraging employees to have their own personal blog such as Michael Brenner of SAP. His blog B2B Marketing Insider reflects his thought leadership ideas in B2B marketing which serve to build Michael’s personal brand, and also reflects positively on his employer, SAP. While not all employees are well suited to have a personal blog that aligns with the corporate brand, there are many other ways employers can encourage and guide employees to build their brand for mutual benefit.

Delivering experiences

Consumers want to experience your brand, not just read about it. Promotional campaigns are often most successful when they are transmedia campaigns. This refers to campaigns that touch the target customer across multiple media channels, inviting the consumer to participate through an experience. A B2C example is the Ford 2013 Fusion campaign where consumers are invited to share what they would do if they were one of 100 people loaned a brand new Ford Fusion. This campaign is comprised of television commercials, YouTube videos and the destination website at Random Acts of Fusion. During the 2012 London Olympics, I experienced live events and more on their mobile app. A B2B example of experiential marketing is Kinaxis, maker of supply chain management software. Kinaxis provides the destination. But, the experience is left to the members with a little help from the Kinaxis Community Manager.

Data driven marketing

Measuring marketing activities is nothing new. The pressure on marketing executives to measure the impact of their marketing plans is greater than ever before. Fortunately for marketers, there is a growing list of data driven measurement tools that allow for measurement of reach, engagement, sentiment, conversions and more. Integration with CRM systems allow B2B marketers to measure online marketing results.

These four marketing paradigms represent a fast change in consumer behavior. This shift in consumer behavior along with the rapid pace of marketing technology tools, requires marketers to consider their impact on current and future marketing programs.

We surveyed 862 B2B sales professionals across a variety of industries about their specific behaviors using LinkedIn® for sales. We learned that most sellers are failing at leveraging the largest B2B networking platform to start more sales conversations. Download the State of Digital Selling with LinkedIn® and learn how to teach your sellers the essential digital selling techniques.

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