What’s going on out there? With so much advertising and marketing and business related messaging, inundating the ears of the potential market pool, how does one approach them; how does one make a certain product or service more desirable than the rest?
It’s the Internet’s fault. Yes, it’s old news now, but we never stopped to consider the long-reaching effect an information explosion would have on brands and the marketer’s ability to communicate about them.
TV, TV everywhere
Suddenly, the computer became a television. So did phones. Even fridges got televisions in them. Suddenly people had access to information about the products they love. The days of traditional marketing seemingly vanished overnight. Social media sprung up everywhere, giving people a real voice in the public domain. Suddenly, nothing was the same.
The days of putting a product on the shelves, running a few ads and being assured of sales are long gone. Increased competition, the proliferation of ‘house brands’ and the explosion of messages and mediums through which they can be communicated saw to that.
Customers got smarter, got to know more about products and most importantly, started to share their opinions about them.
New market dynamics
Where once Nike or Reebok put shoes on the shelves and hoped that people would buy them based purely on brand intrinsics and value, they adapted quickly to understand the new market.
Now a customer can design his pair of trainers online, send the design to the brand owners, who in turn deliver on the customer’s desires and expectations, giving him exactly what he wants.
Unfortunately, most companies are finding it difficult to face the irrefutable truth that customers now drive brands, not Marketers, as it used to be.
Popular opinion is what matters now. Research conducted all over the world is showing that people trust social media over their own family members. People are taking on big corporations, inciting the public against them and winning.
So now the customers are more knowledgeable, more market savvy and they are making their opinions known and felt. Yet the new marketing quagmire doesn’t end there.
It is said that the amount of technical information in the world is doubling every six months and with it the ways that people and companies can share information. What worked yesterday, will not work today. So what will work?
Not the usual sales pitch, clearly. No, we must go against everything we have learnt. To reach customers and stand out from competitors, we have to be real. In a world where everybody is selling something, authenticity has become a rare and valued quality.
Honest, transparent communication has been shown to work best in social media. The same could be said for all types of communication – as the Dove ‘real women’ campaign shows.
We need to find things that are real and common to all people. No wonder then, that humour fares so well in the international ad awards. There are things that appeal to all people that break through the so-called ‘clutter’.
Yet, it is more complicated than even that. Advertising has become more than just endless background noise. People now see it as a necessary evil that they have to endure, in order to get to what they really want: entertainment.
Entertainment and advertising
I have seen a few magnificent examples of ads that are designed to entertain, while subtly delivering their message. The Old Spice campaign is just one example. They create a wondrous uproar, they get shared over and over again. They become iconic in the marketplace and yes, they lead to turn-around financial results.
I believe this is the (at least near) future of marketing and advertising. It’s one way that is proven to work. One just has to strike the right balance between fun and product to both attract and engage the ‘power of the people’.
To put it simply, before people are actually using your product or service, they are not consumers or customers. They are just an audience to whatever it is you are about to put out there, and audiences, like to be entertained.