By Rex Hammock

I love how the web offers marketers the ability to communicate directly with their customers. It’s the same reason I love custom magazines, live events and email newsletters. These types of marketing have one thing in common—one thing that makes them different from traditional advertising and public relations. It’s the phrase, “directly with their customers.”

Creating media for organizations to share directly with their customers or members is what Hammock Inc. does. Focusing exclusively on creating media that goes directly from marketer to customer is what we’ve done for the past 26 years.

I love these forms of marketing because they are controlled 100 percent by the marketer and, if they work like they are supposed to, the customer. Customers do not consider these messages intrusive because they are requested and welcomed. If created and managed correctly, customers look forward to them. They make customers smarter. They help grow deep and long-lasting relationships.

The web was supposed to enable all companies to be media companies. It was supposed to help us reach a promised land where customers were a community, not rating points, market shares or eyeballs. It was going to be one-to-one marketing. We would control our own media channels, and not have to be under the thumb of giant corporations.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t all worked out that way. Instead of creating something new and different, too many marketers have replicated old marketing media models. Traditional advertisers did what they knew how to do: Pour money into the coffers of gatekeepers. They replaced CBS with Facebook, and Time and Newsweek with Google.

Instead of using the available tools and technologies that would enable them to develop and distribute content directly with customers, marketers too often ignored those tools and chose to let Facebook and Google sell them billions of dollars in advertising.

As a result, marketers became obsessed with metrics more than relationships, and with lead generation rather than nurturing the relationship after the lead is generated. Marketers started buying followers and traffic and tried to convince themselves that clicks are more important than customers.

It’s not too late.

Companies can still create media that uses these middlemen for what they’ve always been good at: finding customers. But those middlemen can’t help connect companies with customers who actually want their product, share their passion and will grow because of that relationship. For that, marketers need a new model of direct-to-consumer media.

Bottomline: Don’t be surprised when the coming months reveal more ways that new middleman media are just like the previous ones. They can help you connect with customers or reach new ones, but only at their price—and only on their terms.

Great media for customers is something you create and own. Great media for customers is something customers need and want and look forward to receiving.

Great media is something people love.


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