Points North

The Future of Marketing

on Jan 27, 2010 in Business

With the rise of social media and online users being more eager to check their Facebook and Twitter than their email accounts, in terms of marketing strategy, one must ask, where do we go from here?

Partitioning out your marketing budget used to include setting funds aside for an advertisement or two (print or web), and perhaps getting some promotional materials printed (whether it be brochures, mailers, etc). Now, it’s more like seeking out followers on Twitter that can be potential customers to you, and doing advertisements to get people to join your Facebook fan page. Are there any trends or current characteristics that we can point out to help guide us in the future of marketing as we dive deeper into the social media era?

Yes. In our research on the future of marketing we came across an article by Gareth Kay, the head of Planning for Modernista. Have you heard of the term Amara’s law? It simply states that a”we inevitably overestimate the short-term impact of new technologies while underestimating their long-term effects.” Sound familiar? Some of these social networks have literally sprouted up over night! At the same time, you shouldn’t rush into them without a plan of action. The rise of social media technology will have a lasting impact on our culture, especially with reference to how you reach your consumers. Kay had some great insights as to where the future of marketing might be headed. We are going to highlight them here and add our insight too.

Brands will be built on cultural and social missions, not commercial propositions.
So true! Kay says that “marketing historically has been obsessed with the concept of positioning – how you are different to your competitors in your category. Increasingly, great brands are realizing that people don’t see categories and don’t obsess about them.”  What actually matters is your company’s point of view, your cultural mission. Your customers and potential customers are looking to connect with you and find something that you have in common. Take a look at the Dove “Campaign for Beauty” or USA networks “Characters wanted” campaign, or yet still the “Product (RED)” campaign that has united several brands under a common goal. The beliefs that your consumers have shape their lives, right down to the materials they buy. What can you do to connect with your customers on a more personal level?

Marketing will be about what you do, not what you say.

Absolutely. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Try to look at your business through the eyes of your consumer. Still lost? Ask your current customers or potential customers to look at your business and provide feedback. This can be through an online survey or simply a question and answer email after they check out your website. Your goal, as a business, is to make it natural for customers to come to you, and come back every time. You see your business through your own eyes, but what about the eyes of an outsider looking in. Are you reaching your customers? Some basic research into your own market can easily highlight common issues like “it’s hard to navigate through your website,” or “I can’t figure out what you’re trying to sell me.” Look at companies such as Zappos, who upgraded to overnight shipping, or how Amazon has one-click shopping. They are responding to the need of their customers who want things quickly. What do your customers need from you to make their experience delightful and how can you deliver to exceed their expectations?

Lots of little ideas, not one big idea.

According to Kay, “the future of marketing lies in breaking the tyranny of the big idea for two reasons. First, we must remember that while marketing (and brands) exist for a commercial purpose, they live in a cultural space.” And culture is far more richer, deeper, and complex. Marketing will be more culturally interesting if it is made up of lots of coherent ideas instead of constantly repeating one idea. “Second, given our inability to predict the future, it makes much more sense to start lots of fires to see what takes hold; to place lots of small bets, rather than putting everything on black 35.” Think about your marketing efforts. Do your research yes, but instead of picking one big idea and running with it, pick four small ideas and see where they take you. All your eggs are not in one basket, and you can monitor your results. Learn from them and then scale up behind the ideas that seem to be working. If you’re doing online advertising, there are plenty of ways to monitor whether or not an ad or article or website is working (see Google Analytics, or WordPress has a stats feature, and most websites track incoming traffic and will compile that data automatically for you). Think BIG. Start small.

People first.

Marketing will be about putting people first. Too often marketing efforts have centered around convincing people how great your company is rather than working out what people are interested in and working out how you might be able to add value. Kay sites Tate tracks, a campaign created by Fallon London for the Tate Modern Gallery. “They needed to increase the number of under-25s visiting the gallery and realized that their current marketing tactics were unlikely to change behavior. So instead they thought about what this target audience was passionate about – music – and created a campaign around art inspiring new, exclusive music.” So perhaps now is a good time to ask, what is your target audience interested in? Let’s get a clearer picture about who they are and what motivates them. Then, tap into their interests and find some way to relate them to your products and services.

To sum it up, when it comes to marketing, creating cultural value will create commercial value. The possibilities are endless.

The Future of Marketing on Talent Zoo by Gareth Kay

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