There is No Such Thing as “Traditional” Marketing

Our New Year’s resolution for 2018 is to stop defining marketing in terms of “traditional” and “digital.” Whether you’re a brand, an agency or one of our trusted partners, we think it should be yours, too.

To put things in perspective, 2017 was the first year that digital ad spending (41%) outpaced TV spend (35%) globally and the gap is expected to widen in the coming years.

For Millennials, Gen Y and all that follow, defining offline practices such as print and TV as established conventions of marketing (A.K.A. “traditional”) is a bit like referring to horses as “traditional transport.”

Re-defining “traditional” channels.

The term “traditional” marketing is meant to reflect methods that have a proven and successful track record. In years past, this was print, TV, billboards, etc. However, that definition is now far too limiting. For many of today’s marketers websites, email, social media and display advertising easily meet that definition’s requirements, and even those are poised to be replaced atop the marketing mantle by new methods.

Put more directly, that terminology no longer reflects the boundary between that which we know works and newer alternatives. That boundary doesn’t apply just to marketers — it’s how customers think, act and react.

Re-framing through the eyes of the customer.

If there is one clear shift that’s come to the fore in the last 12 months, it’s that putting customers first has become non-negotiable.

Brands and marketers must move away from being product driven, start identifying customer needs and wants, and focus on creating experiences that “sell the ride, not the bike.” Taking another look at our friend, the horse, and the transport industry, the traditional approach is to push vehicle options that the manufacturer makes available to the consumer –car, motorbike, horse, bicycle, etc.

If we re-frame and look at the needs and desires of the consumer and applying a solutions-based approach, we would re-class these options to meet the needs of real people — single-person and multi-person commuting, adventure, environmentally friendly, etc.

With this new lens applied, the consumer can quickly reach the desired classification with little to no knowledge. Then they can whittle down options with support from the brand, its content, and related marketing, maybe even stumbling upon a right-fit option they never would have previously considered along the way!

Re-focusing and looking forward.

We need to understand the trends and mentality of the end customer and how they interact with brands, from there — and only from there — we can produce unique solutions-focused approaches for our marketing activities.

So, how can we, the marketing and advertising world, clearly articulate our offerings in a customer-focused, solutions-driven manner? The Mindstream team is seeing behavioral shifts across two need states that are changing how we solve problems with our clients.

These shifts are rooted in customer transformations across Active and Passive interactions. Active interactions are hands-on and require a level of involvement on behalf of the customer to get the end product or benefit. As a result, shifts in this space tend to be more overt, customer service, the purchase cycle and content marketing often are impacted, and expected to respond to these shifts first.

Passive interactions involve little to no input from the customer to receive the outcome. This is often where three forms of perks are offered: tangible, financial, or emotional. The first two options are often associated with short-term/quick win marketing activities, with the latter more closely linked to longer-term brand building and differentiation activities. Shifts tend to appear more subtly, although they often have more transformative implications.

While there have always been passive and active interaction needs, the expectations of the customers have changed, both in volume and complexity. There are two major shifts in each area that we’ll be tracking in 2018:

Active Shifts:
- Fueled by social and political re-engagement, customers expect brands to have a position on the issues shaping the landscape of the country.
- Customers have “gotten wise” to the mechanics of marketing programs and now approach experiences with a critical eye.

Passive Shifts:
- Brand loyalty, as we’ve historically known it, has ceased to exist. It’s evolved into a volatile, multi-faceted beast that requires active envolvement to maintain relevance.
- Customers have become comfortable with data-driven communication experiences and have subconciously increased expectations for personalized communication.

Originally created by me for Mindstream Interactive.