Let's agree to stop the madness.
Do a quick search for "the death of marketing and advertising," and the level of discourse found online will likely shock you. Stoking the debate is an entirely new group of so-called Growth Hacker Marketers who say they have solved the riddle of building customers, locking in loyalty, and pushing sales (all while calling for an end to traditional advertising).
Growth Hackers claim to be hybrids -- a crossbreed of engineers, strategists, and analytics specialists who are leveraging digital channels to build customer profiles with technology. Traditional marketing tools are out, they say. Data is the way of the future.
But in the end, it's all buzzwords and jargon. Yes, we live in an era where audience targeting and analysis has never been easier or more powerful. But that doesn't mean it's time to stop advertising; it means it's time to start marketing in a more powerful and effective way.
First, do you know the difference between marketing and advertising?
The two terms are not inter-changeable. Marketing is the function of business that is (still) best summed up by the Four Ps: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.
- What is your product/service (and how is it unique in the marketplace/to the industry that you serve)?
- How much does your product/service cost (and how is it priced to be competitive or unique in the marketplace)?
- Where will your product/service be placed in the marketplace (how will it be positioned both in its physical state and in the mental awareness of your customer)?
- How will you promote it? What will you do to get the marketplace to pay attention to whatever it is that you're selling.
It's plain to see, isn't it?
Advertising is but a small sub-set of marketing. It acts as one of many levers within the promotion quadrant of the Four Ps. And marketing - when done right -- solves a fundamental business challenge: How do you get people to buy whatever it is that you are selling and recommend it to their friends?
The problem is that people have been inter-changing the words "marketing" and "advertising" for so long that they're confusing a fundamental business function for an expensive television ad or local newspaper promotion.
Marketing is everybody's business. Marketing is your business.
Small, medium (and, yes, even large) businesses will often complain that they don't have the time, experience, or passion for marketing. They would prefer to leave it to "the creatives." What a fundamental mistake.
Change your marketing. Change your brain.
Starting today, you can make the choice to embrace your consumers' digital-first posture -- or resist it.
When faced with a question in any facet of their lives, consumers grab their smartphones and search, tweet, or text their way to an answer. Where are you in this social media equation? It's a fair (and difficult) question to answer.
A small mind shift away from perceiving advertising as the main thruster powering your marketing engine (i.e. a focus on building Facebook "Likes") toward this idea of simply being present, active, and engaged (i.e. a focus on helping people every day) can make all the difference in re-activating your marketing strategy.
Never has there been a more important time to embrace business marketing. Primarily, this is because the gatekeepers (a.k.a. media owners) are all but gone.
Paid media is no longer the only way for a brand to build a business, and now all businesses can forge direct relationships with their consumers. In a world where most businesses struggle to carry out their day-to-day operations, new opportunities for marketing are bounded only by time and manpower. Brands must be eager to embrace this digital-fist posture of this new consumer and devote real resources to building direct relationships with customers.
A new brand journey is taking shape through marketing right now, and it could not be more exciting. From wearable technology and cloud computing to Instagram businesses and big data, the intersection of technology, media and consumerism continues to shift and evolve. But to take advantage of this shift, you have to change your mindset.
This isn't about advertising anymore. It's about understanding new marketplaces and the highly connected, untethered and empowered consumers who rule them. This is the type of thinking that will change your mindset from "What am I spending all of this money on?" to "How can I better connect with my customers and potential clients?"
Are you convinced? Are you ready to reboot your marketing?