The era of spin is dead. Here are 5 things to do instead.

Talk to any marketing professional and they will tell you that the fundamental rules of marketing and PR have changed beyond recognition in recent years.

Hand Shake The advent of the internet didn’t have the immediate impact you might have expected it to. Sure things became more immediate but the format of advertising messages remained largely the same. What used to be a billboard became a banner; what used to be a printed article became an online article. It took a while for the whole culture of promotion to change. But that day arrived with the emergence of social media as a consumer force. It no longer matters how slick your advertising is; your target market isn’t impressed any more. They don’t want to hear what you think of yourself through a corporate spokesperson, they want to hear what your customers think of you directly from them. You’re not involved in polishing your message any more. You can’t spin anything. So what’s the answer? There’s no shortcut I’m afraid. You have to actually deliver and control your messaging by controlling your delivery.

Here are 5 tips for marketing your business in the new world order:

1. Don’t over sell. You believe in your brand and know it’s the best out there. Don’t keep telling people that, allow them believe it as well. If you present yourself other than who you are, people will realize it and begin to lose interest quickly. Your name will become known, but being fake is not the way you want to be remembered. Word of mouth is not achieved by overpromising and under delivering. In fact, this will only give you the reverse affect. Don’t cheat yourself by telling your customers you have the means of fulfilling a request that you don’t. Be realistic with the timing of your commitments and always follow through. It’s not about having the best corporate pitch, most expensive advertising campaign or a beautiful office … none of this matters if your customers do not believe in what you are selling them.

2. Be unique. Do something a little different that makes you stand out in the crowd among the rest. Allow people to remember you by making an impression. Just Salad is a NYC restaurant chain with a recent campaign that provides 100 customers the opportunity to be a VIP within their establishment. This status includes a “Pink Bowl”, no waiting in line and free salad toppings on your special day. Dave Kerpen, NY Times Best-Selling Author, who frequents the local chain, wrote about this in his recent blog. He uses his word of mouth to share a real-life story of how he felt when he was selected as 1 of the 100 VIPs to receive this perk. A simple, yet unique concept came alive by viral social media posts, personal blogs and evolving conversations.

3. Maintain integrity. Honesty is the driving force behind customers trusting in you and your brand. Integrity is earned by staying true to your word and belief in your brand will follow. The simple truth will gain you more respect and respect is what keeps your customers coming back. Do what you say you are going to do. Could be as simple as if you said you are going to pick up bagels for the next meeting … bring the bagels and add on the coffee. And if you can’t fulfill an expectation, pick up the phone and personally make the call. There is nothing worse than not being able to fulfill an expectation and sending an email or using social media to deliver the message. Own up to your actions.

4. Be prepared for the negatives. Let’s face it, our society thrives on negativity. In fact, we will tell 10 times more people about a negative customer service experience than a positive one. With this in mind, always be prepared for the uncontrollable word of mouth that may not always have a positive impact on your brand. Create a plan to attack the negativity by neutralizing the debate with content that is factual and relevant. This is challenging to stay on top of, but don’t let it get the best of you. State facts, share content and move on.

5. Don’t allow technology to get in the way. In the guise of being more communicative, technology is creating distance between us and our customers, our management teams and their staff and all together our personal networks. Employee gratitudes, promotions, disciplines and feedback are, more often than not, sent via email simply because it is easier. Social network is giving companies the idea that customers will remain theirs if they continuously post on their Facebook page. We need to stay engaged with the people that surround us. Don’t forget, “word of mouth” is still a physical trait and the elimination of face to face interactions and real relationships will only help us step further back from where we need to be.

Many companies are hiring entire teams to control the word on the street about their business given the many outlets we have to express our opinions. They’re hiring for nothing. You simply cannot control the perception of your service after the fact anymore. The solution? Stop trying to present a great service and actually give people a great service. They’ll promote you themselves and the impact of their message is ten times what you could accomplish in marketing spin.

Make people think. Make people laugh. Contribute something to their day to get them interested in your brand.

But when all is said and done, your next customer is coming along because of the service you gave to the last one. Treat everyone as if they were the only customer you ever had. The mass message will take care of itself.

Josh Kaplan blogs on a variety of subjects including IT Staffing and IT Healthcare Staffing.

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