How does marketing need to change?
So, let’s assume for the moment it is ok to use the digital self for marketing purposes. What’s different?
While technology clearly leaves a footprint that can be leveraged in the marketing process an immediate implication is the creation of infinite paths to purchase. Because every surface or touch-point can act as a jumping off point the traditional view of what tools are appropriate for awareness – consideration – purchase needs to be completely rethought.
For years marketing wanted to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and we’ve come close. However, the adoption of social technology has meant more likely that some message is delivered to someone at some time. And even if we succeed in delivering our message you can guarantee it will be vetted. The questions that really need answers – is this a good price, what do you think, will it look good on me? – are a simple click, tap or swipe away.
The combination of mercurial paths and hazy messaging results in the abdication of control and a significant change in influence wielded. As a result, marketing has to deal with a fluid fog because the brutal truth is we can’t know exactly what is going on at any moment in time.
So, what should we be doing? There are new areas for marketers to consider as they create their plans.
- Understand how choices are made. What are the sources of influence? Given the immediate access to numerous points of view those companies that think about improving the probability of choice will win out.
- Understand how content works. What types of content affect choice? What should we be producing? Creating a blend of emotional, promotional, informational and communal content will be required to satisfy the left and right brain aspects of deciding.
- Rethink the use of 'brand advertising' and 'direct-to-consumer' in the marketing mix. A strong brand acts as an emotional short cut to a decision. And in the recommendation economy this is consumer-to-consumer rather than air cover. The focus should be on surrounding the consumer with interesting content to help her choose.
These steps all rely on understanding the role of a brand in the era of digital self-expression.