To co-op a phrase from a popular Stephen King series “The Dark Tower,” the world – my friends — is moving on. Nowhere is this idea truer than in the often overly insulated world of marketing communications.

 

Marketing professionals tend to cling to known successes and easily replicable formulas more tightly than a rookie bull rider on the first night of the rodeo. Advertising firms spent more than a decade burying their heads in the sand to the changing face of television. Companies still buy help wanted ads in newspapers despite tanking readership numbers as well as a plethora of more economical and farther reaching Web sites at their fingertips.

 

This same resistance is being felt as the world moves into a new digital age. The Old Guard – of which I’m a proud, due-paying member – is brisling as brash young marketers espouse the benefits of the rising new media. RSS feeds can deliver up-to-the-minute information on product availability, news and promotions faster than the geekiest geek can update a Web site; streaming video can reach 10 times the audience in half the time and at a quarter of the cost of traditional TV ads; and e-mail can send a highly targeted and animated marketing message out to hundreds of thousands for a fraction of the price tag associated with mailing a similar product.

 

Yet despite all of the advantages attributed to new media, I hope my gray and battle-seasoned colleagues stand firm on one element: The human element. As the world becomes more and more interconnected via digital technology, there is a frightening tendency to compensate with an equally high level of reductions in human interaction. Once stalwarts in the old school consumer relationship paradigm, customer service reps have been replaced with cheaper but far less helpful automated services or a push to have consumers send e-mails.

 

Skilled sales people have suffered a similar fate. As firms look to continue tightening their collective belts, the notions of video-conferencing, e-mail and even social networking sites are quickly usurping the perceived need for a trained and deployable sales force.

 

While disposing of a skilled sales force saves money in the short-term, it also puts the long-term profitability of the company at serious risk. Jim Ristow, executive director of Home Entertainment Source, one of the nation’s largest electronic buyers, equates Circuit City’s decision to drop its most seasoned salespeople with the firm’s eventual bankruptcy. He noted the failure of the remaining, less experienced salespeople dramatically reduced closing at the outlet in the final years of business.

 

The Final Bark

Watch the included video for an interesting take on new media and sales. The clip suggests new media has changed the way sales leads are being generated but the human relationships formed between sales people and clients remain important to the overall success of a sales force.

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