We believe that marketing has changed.  Marketing has changed because the Internet has transformed business.  Both people and businesses (the distinction for marketing purposes is blurring over time) have changed the way they shop for and purchase products. 

Search engines are now one of the most important ways to get found by qualified prospects and your website is now the most important tool to turn these prospects into qualified leads.

What are the new rules of marketing?  How can you use these rules to your advantage to get more prospects, leads and customers? Here are two principles that have changed, and some ideas of how to use these changes to your advantage.

1) You can reach customers directly. 

In the old world, you would prepare a press release and send it to the media and follow-up with them and hope to get some coverage.  A press release that did not receive coverage was not a success.  In the new world you should put out a „news release“ with some frequency that targets not the media, but your customers and prospects as the primary audience.  This news release should be optimized for search engines and include links back to your website.  Any press release that gets copied onto a blog or another website and links back to you is a success, if you receive traditional media coverage, that is a bonus.

2) Customers can talk to each other. 

In the old world, a prospect might be able to talk to another customer as a reference, but only if they got the contact information from the salesperson, so they pretty much knew what the customer would say (positive things).  There was no way for a prospect to get unbiased information from a variety of your customers.  Fast forward to today, and between blogs, discussion forums, social networks and more (oh my!) it is potentially a scary world where your prospects can hear every little detail of your product or service from your customers directly.  You should enter into this conversation (it will happen with or without you) and provide your own point of view, and also help your best customers tell their story in the most effective way.  For example, at my last company, we helped teach 6 of our best customers how to blog and gave them some free technical help to set up their blog.  We did not control or dictate content in any way, but because they were our best customers most of the content was very positive.