„Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)
The beginning of the year found me diving into some marketing issues that kept puzzling me for some time. Among others, the fact that digital marketing is probably the hottest concept in the world of marketing these days: digital marketing courses, jobs, strategies, agencies; are all in high demand, including in our local community.
It may not be as sexy as growth hacking or storytelling, but still, generating a rather controversial hype of the so-called digital versus traditional marketing.
Would this be where marketing is heading to? I went on to ask Google. A quick review in Google Trends indicates a dwindling interest in the term "marketing" on the web. At the same time, "online marketing" ranks first in its top related queries, surpassing even "marketing jobs". And the rising stars are "facebook marketing", "social media marketing" and "google marketing".
Though I am not a fan of deep specialization, I do believe in the power of developing profound know-how into an area to fully and correctly leverage its potential, if suited for the situation. So digital / online / social media or any such specialty or segment in the marketing spectrum is fine, as long as:
It is one piece of a comprehensive and genuine marketing approach. It is not "the" marketing.
Marketing should be neither tool-driven nor channel first. It should be customer first: intimately know your customers (the problems they have, things they care about, habits they have), tailor your marketing to that (messaging, channels, timing etc.), measure and seek to constantly improve.
This is something we tend to ignore or to forget. Not once I have seen (and personally experienced, the hard way of learning), products being built, but having no clear customer segment and no clear value proposition, which imminently results in something that has no commercial relevance. They do, however, promote a Facebook page counting likes from friends and other people we don't know much about. Such efforts are like throwing the rod into the river and hoping some fish will bite. It may (arguably) be less costly, more measurable, it may even work, but it surely will not bring the most of what you can get out there.
For a real-life proof, I recommend this presentation from branding expert Mark Ritson. He compares the impact of the notorious Oreo tweet that took the advertising spotlight in the 2013 edition of the Super Bowl to the Budweiser TV commercial. Acclaimed as even the best ad in the Super Bowl, the tweet's reach was calculated at a merely 64,300, which would generously account for about 0.02% of Oreo's market share in the US. Of course, what Ritson ignores is the PR-generated impact, which should be added to that, but, at the end of the day, the overall comparison is more than pertinent.
We cannot ignore the growing adoption of mobile devices, the improved access to the Internet and the consumer shifts associated to these trends. Nor can we ignore the tremendous value of technology in marketing, fully-fledged into what is Adobe Marketing Cloud, for example.
After all, "nobody ever got famous by predicting that things would stay pretty much the same", to quote Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman. But some things change at a faster pace (i.e. technology), whereas with some we just have the illusion of change (i.e. changes in us, as humans). Genevieve Bell, Intel's leading anthropologist, argues that technology responds to human nature without changing it. This is an interesting point to note, as "good ads appeal to us as consumers", whereas "great ads appeal to us as humans", the same Bob Hoffman concludes.
We are humans as consumers and we've got humans behind products and businesses. And there always are customer scenarios that transcend a well-defined advertising, purchase or consumption interaction and these are made of numerous online and offline points of contact. It is marketing's role to design the customer experience with the product, service or brand all throughout these touch points.
If Slack, a completely internet B2B business has taken over several US cities with its rainbows, kittens, ponies and balloons in its "Euphoria" outdoor campaign and just released its "Animals" TV commercial, then online and all-things digital may just not be enough for winning Share of Mind, Heart and Wallet.
So, as Ritson predicts, let 2016 be the year of integration. And the year when we return to the basics of segmentation - targeting - positioning, buyer personas, the marketing mix and the rest of the marketing strategy and tactics, traditional or digital. Let's see them as marketing "buzzwords" that don't get unfashionable ever since the American Marketing Association started popularizing them in the 1950s.
Is the big picture in your foundations? Take the time to ask if the "window" you are looking through is the most suited for your marketing, your business, your career or whatever context you may be in.
So Nick, the world may just need some well-rounded men, those who are the most limited of all specialists. They too are single-windowed, just that their window is one with... a larger view.
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