In almost every industry, debates are hovering around how the marketing industry hasn’t changed or has fundamentally changed –> how it’s just about ‘new tools’.
It couldn’t be more wrong.
We must acknowledge that the ‘tools have significantly changed the game’.
When we started using the phone instead of the letter, or mobile phone instead of landline, one-way media to multiple ways to engage, home delivery of avocado from any part of the world vs going to the nearest grocer to pick up any that they retailed, our lives changed in ‘significant’ ways.
New tools have meant lost industries and jobs as well as the advent of so many new opportunities. The same is and will be true in marketing, so we should not ‘deny’ the major changes that face us. However, it is important to understand that the ‘significant shifts haven’t changed the fundamental needs’. The fundamental needs being to be able to communicate, the need for convenience, the need to be socially ahead, the need to transact in the most efficient way, the need to be doing things ‘simply’.
One of the key shifts in marketing is its intimate connection to technology which should make marketers ‘question the status quo’ every day. The pace of change in technology has driven the change in consumer choices, mediums and therefore ‘information/ conversations’ between current and potential consumers in ‘real-time’. This now means that people have ‘significantly changed’ and expect the marketers to ‘engage’ them in ‘experiences’ & not ‘target’ them or put them on ‘hold’.
This means that ‘brand marketing’ has to be the ‘wonderful suitor’ with ‘great content’
One ‘fundamental’ thing that hasn’t changed is the ‘importance of being Authentic & Real’.
It is impossible to please the whole world or provide everyone, everything they need. I have seen numerous companies, large and small, lose sight of this issue and cause them to branch out into all sorts of products and services and thereby dilute the message and value. Microsoft, General Motors, HP, Palm etc immersed themselves into so many products that it wasn’t just their profits that went down, but so did the brand power.
It’s imperative to ‘Never change your brand’. It can certainly be improved upon but can’t be moved from what it is and who it’s meant to serve. As soon as the company changes its focus from creating something useful into something that is only ‘profitable’, a few drops of poison are added to its drinking water in this new marketing world order. As soon as the focus changes only to ‘profits’ its death is certain.
In an industry, where change has been the only constant, simple innovations changing our everyday life is the norm, heroes emerging from amidst us is the new reality, real-time engagement is the only mantra in marketing, where content is king and messaging is dead, the world is in an ‘always on & now’ mode, it is now more than an ever an exciting time to be a marketer as it’s full of exciting times.
These ‘Significant Shifts’ require marketing to remain true to the ‘Fundamentals’ of being true to the brand core, ‘Curating’ the brand story with engaging and relevant content, augmenting with technology to deliver in an immersive manner, immediately and to the right person using data, minimising wastage of very expensive media dollars. Building ‘on and around’ the core of product/ service, an experience that lets consumers engage, ‘feel’ a real need being resolved in a useful and simple way.
The time has never been more rich than now for these to become the game-changers. How many companies of the yore can one recall to have become Billion dollar businesses for taking under 30 seconds of consumers time every day? I can name 3 immediately – Shazam, Vice & Buzzfeed (I am sure there are many more). It is not just by the clamour of tech or digital transformation or some other fancy term that got them there, but their IDEA of having a real & simple solution around a real customer need, which of course is driven from a strong strategy that has been able to understand culture and existing need gap, using technology to scale up the intended solution.
One look at Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, Alibaba, WeChat, MPESA, Amazon Go, and so many more, are clear indicators of the need to be building new and scalable models to engage consumers in this ‘significantly changed’ but ‘fundamentally same’ world
The question one has to constantly ask –
Are you ‘confusing these significant shifts as a fundamental change’
Delivering to the ‘fundamentals’ by using these ‘significant shifts’
The article is authored by Sandeep Madan, CEO, Scanad and JWT Sub-Saharan Africa and first appeared here.