While I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in multiple mediums as a marketer: television, OOH, guerilla, print, direct mail, database CRM, online media, radio, nothing has prepared me for this radical shift that has necessitated the move towards reinventing marketing from a model of selling to a model of listening.
The democratization of media has provided increasingly more tools at the hands of consumers and has given them more power than ever before. The consumers, in essence, have become the marketers and, in many ways, continue to elude their pursuers given the increasing media fragmentation. However, at the same time, these tools have allowed their very needs and behaviours to become more transparent –> an advantage that needs to be leveraged. The definition of conversational marketing in Wikipedia asserts a more complacent, acquiescing relationship that marketers should attempt to create with consumers if they are to succeed in turning consumers to advocates. The sweet spot is being able to effectively develop a relationship with the consumer who is an influencer. This can be a dangerous path if not dealt with care and caution. My scribd friend Tizio, who is part of a blogger network, puts it this way, “In my opinion, the great revolution in marketing isn’t the technology, the creativity or the WOM. The real revolution is to speak the truth. Engage discussions and don’t be misleading.”
Many marketers have yet to ascribe to this belief, let alone understand its true impact. The reality of digital media is that the shift of power to the consumer is not the only factor that companies must contend. Time, place and speed of information can seriously cripple a brand if a company does not enlist in strategies to respond, research and proactively manage the messages. A must-read is HD Marketing 2010:Sharpening the Conversation. Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO and founder of Denuo, said it this way: “time is compressed and often a victim of arbitrage. Place doesn’t matter. People can blog or access content from anywhere. Area has shifted to digital focus: content can be anything or come from anywhere. Speed of marketing, in process and execution, is critical.”
My recent experiences have brought to light the importance of integrating blogging strategies, interactive community sites, testing emerging mediums, and including flexibility for iteration; and most importantly incorporating data insights (ie behavioural and verbal) and measurement criteria to gain increased understanding of the market.
Engagement and Advocacy must supersede Awareness and Eyeballs from the onset. I’ve said this before: Deal with the consumer in their space and on their terms….and they will come.