Story of Marketing; What changed and What’s Next?

Brands are not built by advertising alone. Neither are consumers only those who buy a product. Today, a consumer is anyone who is consuming your brand and its identity.

Marketing function, as we knew it has changed a lot since the time the first digital advert appeared almost two decade ago. In this connected society, the focus has radically shifted in favor of the consumer. This is driven by three key factors; A self educated consumer, powered by search; conversations driven by social media, and the perpetual connectivity powered by ever increasing penetration of the Internet. 

The resultant change in consumer behaviour is the new marketing challenge. If one looks at the media ecosphere today, the traditional media is at odds with newsfeed. We live in an era where social is how consumers hear about us, search is how they find us and content is how remember and connect with us. This shift requires technology adoption, new approaches, and, in many cases, entirely new roles for marketers.

Here is my pick of some of the marketing trends that are likely to be adapted by an increasing number of brands, and become business schools case studies in the next few years.

Purpose driven marketing will go mainstream

The year 2013 marked paradigm shift in thinking, when marketers finally realised that the days of campaign-centricity are over; the customer now controls the message. There has been a gradual but definite shift from product oriented marketing to purpose driven marketing. The brand’s responsibility encompasses more than it’s USP or the emotional connect. The brand image is now a statement of its impact on the society as a whole.

As shown in this video, the conventional marketing campaigns have been receiving serious negative consumer response for some time now. Exploiting the emotions of consumers and playing on their insecurities by creating unreasonable expectations and unrealistic role models.

Sensing the social damage caused by main stream advertisements Dove launched their ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, which made other brands look shallow & exploitative. The amazing initiative was built on an insight into the tensions and contradictions in the consumers’ lives, and an understanding of how that brand resolves the tension.

The video received 163 million global views, topped Cannes YouTube Ads Leaderboards and won the Titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Another example is the recent ‘Project Sunlight’ by Unilever and the ‘Smarter Planet’ campaign by IBM.

Cost of Distribution to Cost of Innovation

The traditional model of creating a campaign and then paying to distribute the same is getting challenged everywhere. Dove’s incredibly innovative and insightful ‘Real Beauty’ campaign could have generated over $250 million in brand value at a fraction of the input costs that traditional distribution channels need. Great content, put on the right distribution channel, ‘auto-distributes’ itself, saving millions of dollars in media spends.

To put this in perspective, a 30-second ad slot during the US Super Bowl, the most prime time you can get, costs £2.2m, given you a recall of around 110 million viewers. On the other hand, Red Bull’s risky, yet innovative marketing is paying off as industry insiders suggest its space jump could be worth £100m to the brand. As the Huffington Post puts it “Red Bull Stratos May Change Future Of Marketing”.

Similarly take a look at the otherwise ignored flight safety presentation reimagined by Virgin America

In less than 2 weeks post its release in October 2013, Virgin Airlines showed this safety video to 5.8 Million people without having them step into their airplane. With people without having them step into their airplane. With 430,000 Facebook shares, 17,000 Tweets, this ingenious tactic generated viral conversations.

Technology is impacting marketing is not a breaking news

In early 2012 Gratner research predicted that by 2017 CMOs will spend more on technology. Conventionally, the marketing team comprised of two sections, the creative team and the client service team. Unfortunately, that’s not enough anymore. If you are running a marketing agency or the marketing department of your brand, then you need people who are ‘technologically creative’, people who can play with Facebook, Twitter and Google APIs and algorithms. In other words, people who know how to use coding as a creative force. Today’s true marketer needs coding and advanced ad buying tools in his arsenal.

Technology is taking on a more central role in marketing. Tools like Google Analytics are no longer optional and connectivity with consumers is paramount. Starbucks, for instance, stands out as the leader among retail chains for innovation in consumer relationship through a central customer database.

Confluence of Digital &Physical

Consumers now expect a digitally enhanced experience everywhere. Therefore marketers are looking for ways to bring the digital and physical worlds closer together, which is resulting in some of the most interesting, and more importantly, successful campaigns. There is a direct connect where advertisements on TV jumps off point and leads to interaction on Facebook, Twitter and even websites.

We already have Starbucks create a highly personalised in store cutomer experience by partnering Square and their “Pay with Square” smartphone app. TARGET stores now have a special ‘Pinterest’ Section that features all the items ‘pinned’ by customers. Burberry creating a new in store customer experience by taking advantage of interactive displays.

In her blog post, Maggie Lonergan, managing director of marketing services at Fortune Cookie, explains the latest buzzword, “phygital”and why it’s the future of marketing. It’s the increasingly seamless merging of traditional offerings with new information technology capabilities to enhance the customer experience.

Every Business will be Media Business

If your customers or your clients use the internet, then the fact is, you need to be in the media business. In order words, EVERYONE needs to be in the media business.

In the past two years, we saw the metamorphosis of LinkedIn into a media platform. Starting with an editorial team to curate relevant content on LinkedIn Today, the top professional network got the most influential people in the world to create exclusive content under the ‘LinkedIn Influencer Program’. This transformation was also market by LinkedIn’s take-over of media companies like Slide Share and Pulse. The increased traffic to LinkedIn now contributes to increase exposure to ads, which in turn significantly increases revenue. Other companies like P&G and RedBull have also proved the efficiency of being a media producer.

The greatest benefit that your own media offers is that being platform independent. We’ve seen how users have moved from one platform to another. We’ve transitioned from MySpace to Orkut to Facebook, and joined others like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and many others in between. If you own the media, you own the decision of where to share it.

Big Data: It’s Not A Buzzword, It’s A Movement.

BIG Data is the flip side of the IT boom that has so powered the consumer.As the perpetual connectivity gives power to consumers, it also gives unprecedented power in the hands of the marketers. Browsing habits, social media posts and conversations, search histories and online shopping trends are available to brands for targeting and retargeting consumers.

This data is the key to challenging competition and finding new arenas of productivity, innovation and growth. Irrespective of whether you are a market leader or a new entrant, there is no escaping the need to capture and analyse archived as well as real-time information. Capturing, analysing and making sense of this increasing data will have significantly higher strategic impact on success of the marketer.

Traditionally marketers relied on quantitative research and focus group to collect consumer insights. Today’s big data tools are capable of capturing and analysing data from a variety of sources including storefront, website, social media and competition to give unprecedented consumer insights. The challenge however is that we need to let go of our trust in the “marketing guts” and use the data insights to build products, services and consumer experience.

The new story of marketing

In the age of consumer centrality, the marketers need to think about patterns of desired outcome and behaviour that needs to be achieved; rather than moving the consumer through a pre designed flow of experience. It’s like setting a stage for other people to perform but you can never tell them what to do. We need to understand the eco system where the consumer is at the centre and how the network around him work together, rather than the brand at the centre

Brands are not built by advertising alone. Neither are consumers only those who buy a product. Today, a consumer is anyone who is consuming your brand and its identity. It is time that marketers realise the fact that in today’s perpetually connected society consumers control the buying journey. It’s up to marketers to map the journey and become part of it. So before you take your brand to the consumer, try to determine where society is heading and explore how your brand can add value in meaningful ways.

Tarun Mitra

Founder & Creative Strategist @practicenext interested in Building Brands with Digital DNA, Design, Fashion & Beer. Founder/Ex-CEO @LurnQ, Ex-VP @aptechltd

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