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    Guerrilla insights into technology

    Jay Conrad Levinson, the creator of the Marlboro Man and Guerrilla Marketing, discusses web technology


    THE very first insight is to realize that technology isn't what it was while you were growing up and isn't what it was when I was writing this sentence. The blurring speed of change in technology is so pervasive and dramatic that only a dunce would attempt to pin it down. Breakthroughs are reported every day and happening at a pace even faster than that. Your job is to be aware of the changes and to be grateful for technology.
       Yesterday, I was watching my football team getting thumped on television. Both teams had wireless technology connecting coaches and assistant coaches, spotters and analysts, and it was all working like a charm. But my team was seriously losing. I made a note then to remind you now that it doesn't really matter how good your technology is if you're not very good. My team could have had even better technology, newer and faster, and still would have had their derrières whipped. The effectiveness of your technology will reach as far as your own effectiveness and can't surpass it. If everything else is equal, the business with the best technology will win out. But if you have the best technology and not the best attitude and strategy, you haven't got a chance.
       To make technology your ally, the first thing to do is learn to love technology—not for what it is, but for what it can do for you. The biggest changes in technology in the ’nineties were not the lower cost and increased power, but the simplicity of using technology. User manuals are more clear than ever and the technology itself is far user-cozy.
       This gives small businesses an unfair advantage. It allows them to appear as large, as expert and as important as the big guys without the attendant necessary to spend big bucks. It not only has levelled out the playing field, but has actually tilted it in favor of the guerrilla.
       That means doing everything you can to increase your comfort level with technology—taking a course, enlisting the aid of a consultant, reading a book, going to seminars and practising. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practise, practise, practise. How to you get to love what technology can do for you? Practise, practise, practise. It's hard to break a computer, so your mistakes won't hurt you—unless you don't risk making them.
       The main idea is to learn what kinds of technology are out there to help you run a smooth operation, then to get what you need rather than what you want. If you fail to embrace technology, the world will pass you by.
       Companies that have enlisted the aid of technology, made it part of their everyday business, have several marketing edges over their competitors who are lagging behind. By becoming virtual, which is a fancy way of saying "connected", they are able to use technology as a way to keep in touch with their offices, their employees, their customers.
       These guerrillas become virtual by means of their computers, to be sure, availing themselves of the speed of email. They are also granted virtual status by means of their communication devices—telephones, pagers, answering devices, call-forwarding. They can be anywhere they like and still be available at a moment's notice when they're needed.
       The insight here is that the more you're connected, the more you're available, and the more you're available, the better you can run your business and service your customers. These days, technology is very visible and portable, thanks to wireless technology, with people walking down the street talking on their miniaturized telephones. This enables them to engage in multiple tasks—such as conducting business on the phone while driving. It increases their efficiency while reducing their worktime. These people can put their business in their pocket or purse, so to speak. Many entrepreneurs have been able to save substantial sums on office rent by closing down their office and carrying it with them.
       The way to think is digital. That means connecting, wherever you are, with real data, tracking all customer interactions, and mining for even more information to better transport those customers to a state of bliss.
       Let me urge you now never to use your technology, your virtualness, to bug your customers, to send junk email to anyone on earth, to invade people's privacy, to be intrusive in any way. Digital power and virtual convenience are extremely easy to abuse. Never require customers to give personal information. Ask for it, but never require it.
       Technology does enable you to gain a lot of it without asking. If you purchase books from Amazon.com, their technology enables them to review your purchasing history, then recommend books you'd like. But take heed: When you do have information, use it judiciously. Don't bombard people with marketing materials.
       As with all marketing, the prime beneficiaries of your technology should be your customers. When they appreciate your virtuality, your technology, their convenience, and let you know—you're using it right. Jay Conrad Levinson

    Jay Conrad Levinson is probably the most respected marketer in the world. He is the inventor of 'Guerrilla Marketing' and is responsible for some of the most outrageous marketing campaigns in history—including the Marlboro Man, the most successful ad campaign in history. Learn how Jay can make your business a huge success in his latest book (and arguably his best ever) Guerrilla Marketing for the New Millennium: www.guerrillamarketingforthenewmillennium.com.

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