I read A LOT on the subject of marketing, and see a lot about ‘digital transformation’, ‘disruption’, ‘the rise of big data’, and, y’know, technology trampling all over everything we thought we knew and changing the ‘landscape’ and completely overturning how we market products to consumers. (We don’t! Consumers market products to us now! Wait, what?)
I am trying to get my head round it all. What do I really think is going on? What do I need to tell clients about the ‘landscape’? And why do we keep using the word landscape?
1. Technology has created new channels and new tools.
But that’s all they are. New ways to reach/engage/convert customers. That’s not new. (NB channels come under tactics, not strategies. Boo to silos!)
2. We can now measure consumer behaviour better.
As long as they do things in a reasonably sensible, predictable, digital way, and click on links that we’ve remembered to add tracking parameters too and whatnot. This means that we need to become better at handling and analysing data, which it seems has been a shock to the marketing community.
3. Customers (aka people) have high expectations of brands.
Well, as ever, they look at who is doing a really good job of ‘customer experience’ (Amazon seems to understand what you want! KLM responds to your Tweet in 2.3 seconds! I can buy from Just Eat with my thumbprint!) and then hope to see it more from other people.
4. You can’t really just divide people into ‘Millennials’ and ‘Non-millennials’.
For obvious reasons.
5. Celebrities hold some power over consumer decision-making… but the meaning of ‘celebrity’ has changed.
Ah yes, Orwell and the fifteen minutes thing. Probably didn’t expect those fifteen minutes to be eked out over 5 years and 150 Vines.
6. Pokemon Go is a fad.
BUT there are probably cool things we can do with augmented (and virtual) reality, if we are clever. Maybe.
7. Your fridge might start ordering your eggs.
Will shops just die? Do I need this in my life? What is going on? Why did someone call it ‘The Internet of Things’? It’s so confusing.
8. There are fewer places for brands to ‘hide’.
This is based on my opinion/biases rather than much I’ve read, but I genuinely think product will QUICKLY overtake marketing as the Thing We Need. That said, for every grassroots, authentic-as-heck review site, there are powerful brands trying to obscure the TRUTH. (Millennials hate that shit.)
9. People are protective of their personal data because they are worried about all the hacking and so on.
OR: it is the new currency. Or both.
10. Everyone has a mobile.
I read yesterday that more people have access to a smartphone than a working toilet. So ok we can agree that MOBILES are a biggie.
11. Artificial Intelligence is still not that intelligent (but when it is it will be cool).
I’ve not heard great things about how this is working so far, but then again I have no idea if it was a colleague or a ridiculously sophisticated robot so who is the real idiot here?
12. Google and Facebook may seem old but they are still quite new so let’s not get too excited.
Who am I kidding, they will clearly become our masters.
OK so here is the part where I offer a kernel of wisdom, because in writing this I have come to some place of understanding. My view? Marketing is marketing. It’s still about identifying and meeting consumer needs. But what technology (that is: a proliferation of information, an age of transparency and tracking, faster, slicker, smarter channels and devices, and raised expectations of what brands are capable of) has done is forced us to finally do it properly. We can no longer tick boxes, offer weak explanations and rely on guesswork. The tools are there to measure success. The consumer is demanding (as ever, but with more knowledge and – worse – exposure). We have to stop talking about customer-centricity and just accept, as we should have long ago, that the customer is at the centre whether we put them there or not.