Headlines of a similar nature have been peppering business news feeds for a couple of years now. It’s a dramatic supposition. A management function that has breathed its last, passed on, is no more, has ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker, stiff and bereft of life, it rests in peace. Apologies I slipped into a Monty Python moment there. Just holding with that “Dead Parrot” thought, it does at times feel as though traditional marketing methods and traditional practitioners have been nailed to their perch to give an impression of life where actually none exists.
What do I mean when I suggest Marketing may have “shuffled off its mortal coil”?
Of course as a discipline it’s somewhat absurd to think that it no longer exists or matters but in my view and that of many marketers its traditional construct is no longer relevant in today’s world.
Lecturers and consultants have been surviving on a diet of “P’s” for a very long time to provide a Platform and Purpose to their approach to marketing. In its day Product, Price, Place and Promotion were a big hit and can still be seen as the core thrust for setting a marketing strategy. The trouble with a diet of “P’s” is that it can cause wind, and there’s lots of it around. The classic 4 P’s are just not going to work.
In today’s socially enabled World building a marketing strategy almost exclusively on a “Push” approach of promoting your product or service, is not going to cut it.
Today when customers wish to engage with a supplier to purchase goods or services they have a variety of sources to choose from before they make a decision:-
Personal social networks, peers and opinion formers or as Malcolm Gladwell refers to them, connectors or mavens in his book Tipping Point. These are the new, trusted salesforce that businesses need to engage with as their reach and influence can prove invaluable to building brand profile and loyalty. These individuals are actively responding to questions raised within LinkedIn Groups, Facebook forums, Twitter or a picture of the proposed purchase on Snapchat, Pinterest or Instagram seeking feedback from followers.
Search – yes of course internet search remains a key element of the process. Customers will “Google” a term appropriate to their need but typically, for more complex or high value items they will in the first instance consult with their own networks.
Consumers are becoming increasingly tired of TV advertising hence the introduction of “red button” Shazam and interactive ads that seek to offer a greater experience and hopefully generate a community conversation that increases brand profile.
Case Example – Socially Grown Brands
The emergence of Aldi and Lidl as major supermarkets in the UK is largely down to good old “word of mouth”. Whilst the ads are clever, they are but a supporting act to the real promotional drivers who are converted shoppers demonstrating their prowess in managing the family budget. The previous snobbery surrounding a visit to a budget supermarket has been superseded by a need to save in recessionary times, an issue that still faces very many households. Once the stigma is removed newbie shoppers who were prepared to “try it out” became evangelical in their praise for the shop that cut their weekly spend without a loss of quality.
Aldi have neatly tapped into this growing number of customers by introducing social media campaigns encouraging them to share their stories such as #AldiChallenge. Lidl launched a TV campaign in 2014 that also played on the kudos of knowing something your neighbour doesn’t with #LidlSurprises .
Whatever spend these two supermarkets put into their advertising it is clear that the biggest single factor in their success has been the conversations between friends, families and trusted members of social networks.
Envero’s 2014 Brand Trust Index surveyed over 30,000 consumers covering over 2,500 brands in 20+ countries.
The Index measures people’s willingness to positively recommend brands (advocate) but also to recommend against them (detract), and the underlying drivers of this recommendation behaviour.
Richard Evans, Envero managing partner says: “Aldi has seen by far the biggest increase in net recommendation, which measures advocates minus detractors, of any brand in the survey since 2010, when it didn’t even make the top 100. Now it’s number 21 and if it continues to increase its advocates at this rate it will soon be in the UK top 10 ahead of any other UK supermarket.”
Whatever we call it and let’s face it marketers love to give things a name, we won’t entirely lose the “Marketing” moniker but we should certainly look at what is being done in its name.
Traditional thinking is dead and any marketer who is not fully conversant with social technologies and considering community engagement strategies might want to think about an alternative career. The World has changed and it’s not going back, we are living in an exciting and scary time of global connectivity. You can equally grow or destroy a brand in hours with the right or wrong communication. This is why it’s important to understand the new media channels and essentially those who use them.
New marketing is a conversation, connection and an interest in communities linked virtually via distinct networks. CEO’s and business owners should be challenging their marketing departments to show how they are proposing to take the company forward in light of these seismic changes.
As far as I know there isn’t a definitive guide to navigate these new waters – most likely this is due to the pace of change, which has been such it would be out of date by the time it was published. At such times, like the Wild West, snake oil salesman proliferate with their cure all solutions. Be it SEO, Social or straightforward customer acquisition there are no simple answers. When looking to grow your business you should back your instincts and look to trusted resources to achieve the objectives. Look for recommendations, testimonials, talk to others who have similar issues and don’t make hasty decisions.
Traditional thinking is now akin to driving whilst only ever looking in the rear view mirror. This “brave new World” is throwing up quite a few twists and turns requiring innovative, entrepreneurial thinking and eyes that are firmly on the road ahead.
Suggested To Do List :-
Challenge the status quo – review current activities, plans their impact/return
Review resources/in-house and outsourced
Conduct thorough evaluation of proposed resources/seek out trusted recommendations
Create a plan to deliver social engagement in target areas
Factor in a mechanism to continually update the plan based upon emerging technologies/ trends
Set realistic parameters for success ie increase profit, Klout score, brand awareness, network size and relevance
Share the plan internally
Measure results regularly and hold resources to account