What is the future of advertising? This question has persisted ever since there were organizations, products, and services to sell. Sure, it’s easy to look back 10, 20, 30, or more years ago to understand not only what advertising was, but also how it has impacted the present. But while hindsight is always 20/20, defining how to approach the future of marketing in 2020 is infinitely more difficult.
We know social business processes are shaping a rapidly approaching future, but how? And more importantly, how do we prepare for it?
During the past few years, the Wharton Future of Advertising Program has attempted to answer precisely those questions. In the recently released book “Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints” (Wiley, 2016), authors Yoram (Jerry) Wind, Catharine Hays, and The Wharton Future of Advertising Innovation Network establish a thoughtful, dynamic road map for brands. Countless thought leaders—including Blue Focus Marketing co-founder Mark Burgess and me—weighed it to describe how the disruptions of today will create the nimble, experience-centered brand of tomorrow.
The core argument of “Beyond Advertising” is that the fundamental relationships among brands, media, and their stakeholders are dramatically transforming. And just as we try to adapt, along comes a new disruption. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the book’s contributors were near-unanimous in their optimism for the branding opportunities of 2020 and beyond.
Tomorrow’s brands will change the common perspective of advertising as a necessary evil to one of mutual value exchange. Organizations will push past an ad-centric mindset and learn to design a comprehensive user experience—from packaging to customer service, from marketing to organizational citizenship. It won’t be so much about meeting someone at their chosen touch point but rather about already being there, ready to engage in authentic interactions.
If it sounds like these efforts will require participation across the organization, they do. This is the true meaning of moving beyond advertising: complete organizational buy-in across departments and hierarchical structures. It starts with the C-suite.
Designing The Future
Naturally, some obstacles must be overcome if we are to design the brand of the future. Chief among them is the need to look beyond short-term advertising gains to embrace long-term sustainability. Brands can’t look at the new marketing landscape—especially touch points involving social media and mobile engagement—purely in terms of ROI.
This is the era of the triple bottom line, where building meaningful brand relationships with both employees and customers leads to greater long-term benefits. To justify this approach, “Beyond Advertising” cites research from the book “The Long and the Short of It,” in which authors Les Binet and Peter Field found that long-term strategies ultimately lead to increased sales and market share. And there’s evidence that many brands have already begun this shift.
To achieve marketing success in the future—indeed, to succeed as a business at all—organizations must embrace what “Beyond Advertising” calls a “culture of adaptive experimentation.” Marketing has become everyone’s job—and organizational structures must learn to reflect this new reality.
To build the brand of the future, a greater emphasis must be put on culture, organizational structure, and eliminating silos. This is the heart of going social—and the benefits are real. According to recent data, a full 96.5% of businesses see positive value in social engagement. This survey found that employee advocacy leads to increased visibility, inbound Web traffic, brand recognition, and brand loyalty. Further, according to data from LinkedIn, socially engaged companies are 57% more likely to get increased sales leads, 58% more likely to attract top talent, and 20% more likely to retain them.
With so many benefits, embracing social business is a true win-win for both organization and employee. In “The Social Employee” (McGraw Hill), Burgess and I showed how some of the world’s leading organizations are transforming to embrace the future of business. Now we continue our work in our “Social Employees: The New Marketing Channel.” In this 22-part video tutorial for Lynda.com (a LinkedIn-owned company), we show how to move from the why to the how of social business—beginning with a pilot program and moving to more advanced engagement and social learning strategies. We’re very happy to bring this course to audiences everywhere and hope you will join us.