In 1971, there were about 2,300 transistors on a single computer chip. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, proposed that number would double every 12 months—which it has. Today, a single computer chip can hold nearly 3 billion transistors. This rate of exponential progression in computing power is known as Moore's Law.
Technology is evolving faster than ever and, like it or not, marketing is being pulled along with it. Never before have there been as many channels through which to communicate and interact with an audience as there are today. Sites like Pinterest and Facebook have allowed consumers to “socialize” with their favorite products on their tablets, smartphones, Web sites, etc. More importantly, these consumers are sharing these products with their friends online, creating the most successful word-of-mouth campaigns the marketing world has ever seen. Tomorrow there will be more. It's a certainty. And the number of channels will continue to increase at a rate that will rival Moore's Law.
In addition, people are adapting to technology at an increasingly rapid rate. Smartphone apps and sharing platforms are giving the already-influential consumer voice increasing control and influence over consumer behavior. Once brands deploy messages and tactics, consumers now have more power than ever to give it life or kill it with a mouse click.
As with the computer chip, marketing channels are, at minimum, doubling every year. With so many additions to an already teeming array of ways to connect businesses to people, how can marketers adjust? Where should we focus our resources? Will anything stay the same?
The good news is, there are answers to all these questions—some of which require the slaying of a few sacred cows.
Ignore Impressions. Embrace Engagement
Once upon a time, you could justify a marketing spend by calculating the number of impressions a particular advertisement made on the target audience. Buys were measured in reach and frequency, gross rating points, and so on. But now that television is being controlled by the viewer (not the networks), radio is commercial-free, and online behavior is measurable and trackable, there's a new metric in town—and its name is engagement.
Engagement is the new measure of marketing success and the place where the ROI of the marketing investment begins to reveal itself. The ultimate goal is, of course, still revenue generation. What engagement metrics can do that reach, frequency, and impressions could not is show precisely which marketing dollars are being wasted.
People who actively engage in a brand's communication loop are, by measure of multiple studies, more likely to engage further and spend more money than their disengaged counterparts. Brands that make it easy to share content, post reviews, and actively participate in the overall brand experience are winning as technology continues to reshape the marketing landscape.
Engagement means making your audience an integral element of the brand and ensuring they have a voice that can be heard across multiple touch points. It means thinking about what’s important to your customers first, versus what’s important to your brand. It means when a successful promotion gains your business 4,000 “likes” on your Facebook page, you talk to those people, ask their opinions, and offer them deals. It means keeping the focus on the consumer.
Learn To Be Invisible
When marketing is done well, it is invisible to its audience. That's not to say they cannot see it. Rather, they only see its relevance. What do we want people to know about us? What do we stand for? Where do we fit in this world?
Answering these questions will help clearly define your audience and reveal opportunities to relate to them in terms they understand and, most importantly, value. Got milk? isn't about milk. It's about the absence of milk. Nike isn't about shoes; it's about athleticism. What these organizations have in common is the absence of a visible "sales pitch" in their advertising.
Ditch the sales pitch and start demonstrating a set of values that appeals to your audience. Make your marketing invisible by shining a light on why you do what you do versus what you do and how you do it.
Inherently, We Are Storytellers
Word-of-mouth is still the most potent form of advertising. And it will continue to be as long as people are able to talk or, in this day and age, type.
What is changing is the way people learn about new ideas, where they put their trust, and how (and how often) they recommend their favorite products. People place more trust in what they learn from other people, rather than brands or institutions. For this reason, it is critical that no business miss out on the online conversations going on about them.
Like a microprocessor that can continue to hold more and more transistors, the number of ways to share information and experiences with one another will grow exponentially in the years to come. So will the opportunities for people to discover new ideas where they are. This means that adapting to the rapidly expanding new media landscape begins by learning how to engage people where they are in an unobtrusive way that is impossible to ignore, and creating experiences that are worth having more than once and sharing with other people.
Marketing's new job is all about technology and the experiences that can be created by pairing the right idea with the right mix of media. And when you get that right, the message will deliver itself.