Marketing is changing—be ready or be left behind

mad men
By Sara Rider   |   May 12, 2015

As Mad Men comes to its end, and we bid adieu to the series that focused on the world of advertising in the ‘60s, it may be a good time to think about all the changes that are taking place in advertising right now.

In a recent column in Forbes, Daniel Newman, author of The Millennial CEO and The New Rules of Customer Engagement, talked about the top 10 trends he thought would dominate marketing over the next five years.  The bottom line?  The conversation and interaction between brands and customers is changing dramatically—and probably permanently.  To stay in the conversation, your company or organization is going to have to change as well.

Connection changes your brand

Newman’s column was prompted by an article by Jeff Beer on FasttoCreate.com, that listed 25 top marketing trends.  One of the marketers Beer interviewed was Chris Brandt, CMO of Taco Bell Corp.  For Brandt, most of the changes will be driven by the fact that “there are more mobile devices than people on the planet.  Mobile is the way people interact with friends and brands.”

Sometimes when we talk about mobile, I think we focus too much on the item—the smartphone, the tablet, the Apple™ watch.  For me, it’s not the device that’s important, it’s the omnipresence of the devices in our lives.  It’s the constant connectivity that matters.  It’s the inability to hide when something goes wrong for your company and the opportunity to be in the forefront when you do things right.

Both Brandt and Newman believe that mobile will become the center of marketing, and that mobile gives companies a way to have a more personal interaction with their customers.

Branding by the customer

One of Newman’s predictions is that user-generated content will surpass brand-generated content.  We are already seeing some of this happening.  Customer blogs that praise or damn your product or services, Yelp! reviews that create their own version of your brand—all of this customer-generated content is beginning to drown out the brand a company wants to create for itself.

This user-generated content is made possible by social media.  And now that someone can post a review of your restaurant—or physician’s office—to their Facebook page, and see it reposted hundreds of times, it becomes even more imperative that the part of your brand that you do control creates a positive image in your customer’s minds.

A new twist on market research

One interesting opportunity that all this social media discussion creates is the opportunity to hear what your customers think—what they like, what they don’t like.  While I’m certain researchers would say that you shouldn’t make all of your marketing decisions based on what people are posting on Facebook about your company or service, it certainly expands your available information beyond the tools that we used in the past—customer surveys, focus groups, mall intercept surveys.  Newman predicts that “Customers’ responses and feelings toward the brand will dictate future campaigns.”  While some marketers may find that a frightening concept, I think it’s rather exciting.  For too many years, finding out what customers wanted has been a complicated and sometimes uncertain task.  But when you read the reviews, see the Facebook posts, and read comments about your company in a consumer’s blog, you have a whole other source of information.

We’re in this together

One final prediction from Newman:  social media will continue to grow in importance.  He predicts that in time, brands will move their marketing efforts more and more to social channels.  In fact, he says that social will become, “not just one of the channels, but the channel.”  This growth in social media makes the customer a bigger part of conversation.  While some may find this daunting, having customers that you’re actively engaged with gives companies the chance to establish stronger ties with these customers.  In time, customers can become like a part of your sales force, representing and endorsing your brand in ways that your company-driven advertising can never do.

It’s going to be an interesting future.

photo credit: untappedcities.com 

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About the Author

Sara Rider, Vice President at DeLaune & Associates, has written extensively for the healthcare, financial, non-profit, and technology industries for more than 30 years.

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