Where Refrigerators Go to Die

You may be wondering what beat up old refrigerators have got to do with anything, let alone marketing. Stay with me and find out.

The other day I went to the recycling centre with my husband and standing on its own in the middle of a dirt area was a group of discarded refrigerators. I looked at them and saw beauty in them, stood there, old, antiquated, forgotten. It reminded me of the equipment and online tools that we have used and discarded in marketing.

Who remembers telex machines and fax machines being used for mass distribution of advertisements? It wasn’t that long ago people were grappling with email. What about Netscape? At some point these were all brand spanking new shiny objects. There was a little bit of awe, anticipation and fear, but we got on with the job and mastered the technology.

When we go to the shop to buy a fridge there’s something we’re looking for: the latest fancy ice maker; SMART technology that links the refrigerator to the house systems. Whatever, it is, we’re drawn in by something we’ve not had before and when we get it home, it takes pride of place in the kitchen. We want to immediately try out the functions, even though we don’t understand how they work, and we start pressing the buttons before we read the instructions. We show our new toy off to family and friends and then it becomes part of our everyday life. At some point it will outgrow its usefulness. For some people it is early on, and we decide to upgrade to a newer model and pass on our not so new refrigerator, still with some life in it, to the next appreciative owner. Or we could be the owner who keeps the refrigerator going for as long as possible, repairing it until the parts become obsolete. Then we move on, running fast to catch up with the latest features to satisfy our palette. The cycle starts again.

Technology runs with a similar cycle. We buy the latest equipment or software that promises to increase our business profitability. We use it before we understand its true functionality. We show it off to our customers and prospects and then we settle into a daily routine. We may upgrade by adding new parts or new versions or we may move up to the latest model. Some of us will keep patching our tools until there comes the point when there is no longer any service or upgrade capacity left. We then have a lot of catching up to do when we invest in new technology.

In marketing, there is always something new that’s there to make life easier, get more sales, more customers, more time and more interactions. The sales funnel gets more sophisticated and therefore we are constantly looking for the new ways to get customers and sales. In this maelstrom, technology quickly becomes obsolete or left behind.

If we don’t keep up with technology, we will find our outdated methods could slow us down. A good example of keeping up with technology is the use of autoresponders for email marketing; a great tool to nurture prospects and convert them into buying, but for many of us, the process involved seems tedious. What we don’t acknowledge is that the time taken to set up the email sequences, more than compensates people manually sending out emails that seem repetitive and take up a lot more time in the long term. I am not saying we should be completely online; we shouldn’t. But if we don’t keep up with change, then change will overtake us anyway and we could end up, with our businesses, stuck in that field, like those refrigerators waiting to die.

Fear of technology is a very real problem facing people in businesses. This fear turns resources that are meant to help make our lives and businesses easier, into taboo topics that should never be discussed, or worse still, they get sabotaged or thrown into dark cupboards never to see the light of day.