Merriam-Webster defines marketing as the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service. This is not incorrect, but it’s dated. Marketing today has evolved into much more. Marketing is storytelling. It’s conversation. More importantly, marketing is the story you want to tell, not the story being told about you. The strongest marketing campaigns are those proactively leading the conversation surrounding their brands, and adapting to evolving technology, trends and the needs and expectations of the consumer.
So, what are some other ways marketing has evolved?
A shift in power. Consumers, not marketers, are calling the shots these days. By the time a customer gets to you, they likely can tell you all about your product or service because they have done extensive research on their own. They’ve read reviews online, compared prices, and know where else they can go to get a similar service. Businesses have to find other ways to distinguish themselves, and express how they are fundamentally different from the competition, which leads to my next point.
We want more. Speaking as a consumer, many of us want more. It is no longer enough for a company to tell us they can solve our problems; we want to know how those problems will be solved. Is your company socially responsible? Does it give back in some way, or consider the “greater good” in its business practices? If we don’t like the answer, we may go somewhere else.
Asking vs. telling. In the past, marketing was about telling customers what they needed. Today, customers feel that they already know what they need, and marketing is often more about asking people to become part of the community your brand is building. This community-building stage is where your brand starts to establish trust with consumers. This is one reason it’s so important for the products and services you provide to live up to the promises your marketing makes. Great branding with a stink-o customer experience is such a disappointment, and it’s what leads to those unfavorable stories being told about you.
The ability to track. Analytics and testing allow marketers to zero in on their defined audience. With so many tracking tools at our disposal, marketers can have a better understanding than ever of where their customers are, what interests them, and how to successfully engage them. The days of “shot in the dark” marketing are gone. When directly targeting your intended audience, marketing can be powerful. You’re eliminating guesswork and preconceived ideas, and honing in right where you want to be. (This is one reason social media marketing, when done right, can be so effective. You don’t have to have a huge budget to create a great social media campaign and build a strong following.)
How does this resonate with you? Are there other ways marketing is changing that we haven’t discussed here? Do you feel like your marketing needs a kick in the pants? Speak up in the comments – we’d love to hear your thoughts!