When I was a kid living (briefly) in Oklahoma, one of my favorite times was the local “Pioneer Days.” Everyone dressed up in pioneer clothing, old Conestoga wagons were brought out of barns, and re-enactments of the early days of the town were carried out in the town square and at the fairgrounds. Everything was “old-timey” — the way it used to be. Some of the men would even grow their hair long and sport the old fashion handlebar mustache and side lamb chops.
I'm convinced that we are now in the pioneer days for marketing. If I've read one article about how push marketing doesn't work anymore and that it is now all about building relationships with the consumer, I've read twenty. And every time I read one I shake my head and wonder why no one writes that this is back to marketing's pioneer days. We now have “Pioneer Marketing.” It's what our forebears did in every single city and town, and what the best and wisest businesses still do.
Pioneer Marketing (I think I just coined a new term) has one main tenet, and that tenet is infallible. It works every time because it is based on a law of human nature. What's the law? “People respond positively and in a timely manner when they are treated with respect, courtesy, honesty, and in a way that has their best interests at heart.” That one law, rigidly adhered to, will win out every time. Your attention may be diverted by aggressive and shiny marketing for a while, but in the end you will go where that law of human nature is adhered to.
Simply put, our prospects and existing customers don't want to be sold into a product or service that serves the seller and doesn't serve the buyer. They are tired of push marketing coupled with shoddy goods and lacking customer service. And this is one huge reason that you, as an entrepreneur, have it over the big guys. The big guys have used push marketing, shoddy goods, and lacking customer service for so long that they are scrambling right now to turn huge, bloated, bureaucratic businesses around to save their sales. Meanwhile, you and I can “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” meeting and forming relationships with our prospects, selling our expertise, servicing our customers, and making the transaction into a win-win rather than a win-lose. We have memorable and recognizable faces. Large, bloated businesses give you a new and usually non-caring face every time you walk in their door or buy from them online.
Family-owned businesses, solo professionals, and entrepreneurs can step up and capture market share right now. Most of us have a familiar face to our prospects and customers. Many of the big guys don't, and now that they realize that, they are all about “relationship marketing,” thinking they have discovered a whole new world. It isn't a whole new world at all, it's the world that many small business owners never left, the one that our pioneer forebears lived in. Everyone knew the business owners up and down the street and how they treated customers. Everyone knew who to avoid and who to buy from. Business was good or bad depending on the business owner's savvy and her ability to form and keep relationships. Reputation was everything, and was based on something real, not something manipulated by copious marketing.
People respond to Pioneer Marketing because it is in our human nature. We are wired for relationships. On the frontier, relationships and trust in others meant survival. In the marketplace, it means survival for you, the business owner. And it is coupled with a sense of trust and satisfaction in our customers, as well.
You don't have to put on a pioneer costume or grow a mustache to use Pioneer Marketing. Just plaster that one law of human nature up where you can see it, and build your business from that place. Let your marketing, advertising, customer service, and sales be aligned with that law. Couple that with good business skills, and you are good to go. The next time you hear about the new “relationship marketing” just smile. You are already there. So hip, so pioneer. That's you!