The Influencer Series: Linda Popky
Marketing is competitive by nature. Each prospective customer has a finite amount of attention, and a marketer’s job is to retain as much of that as possible. The catch– so is every other marketer out there. Today, with the advancements of communication channels and messaging systems, we are saturated in marketing messages. In fact, the average consumer is exposed to about 5,000 marketing messages each day. A lot of it is just noise according to Linda Popky, owner of Leverage2Market Associates.
“You have to understand who your customers are. You have to have a good quality product, show up at the right time, and know how to promote it.”
Louder isn’t always better
Marketers need to rise above that hum in order to reach their audience, but the most obvious answer may not be the right one, Popky warns. “When you are trying to say something in a loud room sometimes you just speak louder and louder and you just add to the noise. That wasn’t really working,” says Popky.
Popky, whose marketing career spans the better part of three decades, has worked on both the client and agency side. After college, she worked at a public relations agency and advertising agency before realizing that it wasn’t quite her cup of tea. “I’d rather be the client pushing around the agency,” she says. She then moved on to work with numerous clients, primarily in the technology field, including Sun Microsystems and iPlanet. After that she went on to start her own business Leverage2Market Associates, where she found the perfect career fit. “It is fun because it allows me to do work for lots of different organizations,” she says.
On top of running her own consulting firm, she is a published author. Last year, she published her first book, Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters, where she shares her valuable insight. “There is so much that has changed in marketing and so many different ways to reach consumers,” she says. “We get hit with all these different messages and not just traditional ways. It is just so much noise.”
Understanding the basics
In order to break through this noise, Popky says brands need to go back to the basics. “As much as things have changed, some things haven’t changed at all. They have stayed the same and they will stay the same. Going back from the beginning when we had farmers and they came together in a market, to try and barter goods – you had to have a good product. You had to know your customer,” she says. Understanding what you are selling, who you are selling to, and how to inform people about your product are key to success, according to Popky. Once the first two of those things are locked down, marketers can begin to plan the third, messaging. This is where technology can make a good brand great.
Technical Growing Pains
While technology in marketing is largely seen as a good thing, it does come with its challenges. “One of the things that happens when we have a technology change is the marketers, or the skills they need in marketing today, are very different than they were 5 years ago, 10 years ago or even 20 to 30 years ago when some of the folks were going to school getting their experience,” she says. Adapting to new technology is a growth process and those that don’t adapt will not be able to succeed in an technologically advancing world.
As we are inundated with more and more technology, competition becomes fiercer. With more technology coming in than there are actual productive places for, Popky thinks that there will be a shake out. Some tools will have to go by the wayside, but it isn’t all bad. The remaining technologies will fill all the holes. “We will see fewer of these automation tools, but they are going to become broader and more comprehensive,” she says.
A relationship business
As the tech takes over, however, Popky warns that the human touch is not something to be overlooked. The tools that become integral in the field will only do so if they are successful at integrating the “human aspects of marketing that we can’t lose.” The human feel is something that cannot be lost, because when it really comes down to it, marketing is about a relationship, whether it is one on one or one on many. Good, healthy relationships can build up a business and take it to success. “This is very much a relationship business. So again it is not just about numbers, but about building relationships with the right people and continuing those and getting out there,” she says.
A good relationship, in life and marketing, starts with communication. For Popky, this means telling people what you want them to know about you. “You have got to get out there and blow your own horn, because if you don’t do it no one else does,” she says. She doesn’t mean bragging, but rather, showcasing your skills. “If you think in terms of the value you can provide for others and how you can get out there and tell them about that then I think that is valuable,” she says.
Knowing what value you provide truly comes back to the basics, as Popky sees them. If you don’t know your product you can’t sell it. A product you can’t sell is no good to you or the people that it could have helped, and you can’t promote a product that you don’t understand. This is the piece of advice that Popky holds to no matter what technological advancements stand before her. “You have to understand who your customers are. You have to have a good quality product, show up at the right time, and know how to promote it,” she says.