Your Marketing is Already Outsourced

Congratulations! As a business professional, you’ve outsourced a growing proportion of your marketing.

Whether you decided to or not.

Time was, companies could control their marketing messages to a large extent. They could craft their brand image and messages and pro-actively distribute that marketing to their target audience. Sure, word-of-mouth was always powerful in the shaping of a brand’s reputation in the marketplace, but the magnifying effect of conversation – “outsourced” marketing, if you will – was still limited.

No more. The trend is clear – the explosion of social media means that people-to-people conversations have a rapidly growing influence compared to traditional marketing/advertising. These “outsourced” conversations (esp. facilitated through on-line platforms) will increasingly impact a company’s reputation, for good or for ill (you’ll forgive the awful graphic below: I’m a thinker and writer, not a designer!)

Just yesterday, I noticed on Twitter that there was a graphic depicting the words “Delta Skelter.” It did not look good! My immediate impression – somebody is NOT HAPPY with Delta airlines. A quick Google search unveiled this. And now, this message about Delta is rattling around in my brain and my emotions, potentially impacting that company’s reputation. And, although I have not had that same experience with Delta, now I’m mentioning it on my blog as well, as a case study. Messaging, magnified.

The point is: outsourced conversations are already happening, and they now have exponential impact. It’s no longer one neighbor grousing (or praising) to 5 others. It’s people reinforcing or undermining your brand at lightning speed, potentially impacting thousands. Scary.

The market will decide your reputation and your brand value. Therefore, you’d better deliver! And, since the outsourcing decision has already been made, it’s time to join the conversation.

Hat tip: Chris Kieff for inspiring this rant.

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

11 Responses to Your Marketing is Already Outsourced

  1. Tim Rueb says:

    Great point. The information age has neutralized the playing field for the consumer. In the past, companies could take for granted poor performance, now consumers are much more in control.

  2. That’s a very fresh way of looking at it, Steve. I like this a lot.

  3. Well played. I think the more we can hammer the “the message is not yours to control anymore” idea home, the better it will be. I’m pretty sure that this scenario is an inevitability, so we should stop thinking “what if?” and start thinking “what now?” (might make that a post title!)

    Keep the good stuff coming!

  4. @tim, @matt: I think it’s one of the strongest “business cases” for social media. A lot of what is happening in this toddler/adolescent phase looks like confusing fluff, but the core of it is, there is genuine business impact when people are freed to converse and form their own messages.

    @olivier: I see this as one of our challenges: how do we take these very tangible aspects of social media and put it into business-savvy language?

  5. Will Boyd says:

    I, too, posted on my blog,, about the Delta Skelter conversation. I want to elaborate on one statement that you make. You say, “It’s people reinforcing or undermining your brand at lightning speed, potentially impacting thousands.” I disagree, especially in this case. I don’t think anyone is undermining Delta’s brand but Delta. First, Delta had the opportunity to provide good customer service. Second, Delta had the opportunity to provide a conversational customer care channel. Third, Delta had the opportunity to engage the conversation in a meaningful way. In my opinion, Delta failed at all three, and thus, undermined their own brand. When you say, “The market will decide your reputation and your brand value. Therefore, you’d better deliver!” you couldn’t be more right on.

  6. Many companies outsource their marketing also by failing to invest in hiring and retaining marketing professionals and giving them adequate resources to do their jobs, including the power to help customers.

  7. Chris Brown says:

    Point well taken! Word of Mouth marketing from over the backyard fence goes around the world in seconds now…

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  9. @Will of course, it is poor performance by any company that undermines its brand (cause). The active spread of the bad news (effect) is the undermining in action.
    @Valeria – marketing nature abhors a vacuum, right? Either you aggressively seek to direct conversation (or at least engage in it) in the marketplace, or you cede the field to others.

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