Modern marketing in the age of disruption

In my global nomad blog, I have written that the fundamental difference between old-school and modern marketing is all about the art of storytelling and fostering a deep, human connection with your clients. In this post I’d like to solidify my thoughts on modern marketing by focusing on a few model shifts old-school marketeers should consider if they’re serious about adapting their mindsets to this new age of disruption.

  1. From Grabbing Attention To Holding Attention

In the past, the more people knew about your product, the more they would buy. It was a simple idea, and it worked, so marketeers stuck with it. That was broadcast tv and marketers became obsessed with ads and awareness. Then cable tv brought fragmented audiences and more emphasis was put on targeting: marketeers then needed to research the market to identify valuable segments, then adjust the product mix and messaging accordingly. As those market segments remained enormous, awareness still mattered above all else.

Unfortunately today, digital technology is breaking that model. When a marketeer comes up with a message that creates awareness, it does not lead to a trip to a store, but to searching behavior online. This behavior, in turn, can be tracked by competitors who will then retarget those same customers with new offers. In the end, by relying solely on awareness, old-school marketeers essentially provide a lead generation service for the competition.

As I said before, today, marketeers need to build a trusted and ongoing relationship with consumers and that means holding attention, not just grabbing it.

2. From eyeballs to interfaces

A byproduct of old-school marketeer’s awareness has been the value placed on reach. The idea was that If you were to maximize the number of eyeballs you get your message in front of, then you’ll accordingly increase awareness. That worked super well in the days of analog media such as television — hence the premium placed on “prime time” programming.

Thing is, because today’s digital technology allows to reach who we want and when we want to reach them, consumers are so deluged with brand messages that they are totally overwhelmed.

That’s why the critical entry point for consumers today is no longer the brand message, but the brand interface. We can connect with consumers like never before and get them to click on an ad or download an app, but the next brand is also only a click away. Unless the initial experience is seamless, friendly and inviting, they’ll go somewhere else.

3. Today’s marketing is all about real time data analysis.

Another longstanding ritual in marketing departments has been the research survey. A study is bought, data is collected, results analyzed and conclusions are made. Some still advocate focus groups. This is a flawed process and everybody knows it. I always ask, can we discuss the survey questions or what was the time between data collection and study? Most of the time I don’t get an answer. It’s because in the past, marketeers relied on “the bell curve” to explain margin errors and confidence levels in the data. That was an okay working approach when things were slow, but today, facts change at the speed of light. Surveys simply don’t work anymore: just watch the 2015–16 US presidential campaign to get a feel of how old methods of polling can be so wrong.

Fortunately, today big data and predictive analysis (and also AI-based analytics) give us a way out. Rather than taking a limited sample under controlled conditions, we can take in loads of data and analyze it in real time, updating our judgments as we go. It’s okay that we don’t always get it right, because the data-centric modern marketing methodologies allow us to become less wrong over time and correct errors much, much faster. In the end, today’s marketing is all about real time data analysis.

4. Message is out. Experience is in.

For decades, old-school marketing has focused on crafting the right message and getting it in front of the right consumer at the right time. For the most part, that proved to be a successful strategy. Communicating a brand’s benefits and keeping them top of the consumer’s mind has been an effective way to drive sales.

But the world has changed. That no longer works.

Today, consumers can interact with brands from any place at any time of the day and they can collect information, ask questions, indicate preferences and make purchases. Most importantly, consumers want positive, immersive experiences, through effective use of data, technology and storytelling.

In conclusion, today, our ability to create and publish content, collect and analyze data and interact with consumers in real time is beyond what anyone could imagine even a decade ago. That is modern marketing in the age of disruption: in a world moving at the speed of technology and rapid shifts in consumer behavior, new-school marketeers today must focus on the 3 Cs of disruption: content, complexity and connected and empowered consumers. It is the essential difference between boring and soulless marketing old-school companies continue to create and truly, honestly engaging, nurturing, stimulating your clients — you must foster a deep, human connection with your clients, that’s how they will buy from you, and will continue to buy from you forever.