Where is Consumer Marketing headed in 2015?

A lot of buzzwords are floating around — as always. Marketers are trying to wrap their heads around lots of both existing and emerging concepts, challenges, and changes: real-time bidding, building advocacy, driving engagement, measuring ROI, marketing automation … while in the middle of all of that, Facebook is moving away from social … Things seem as complicated as ever. We believe, however, that the foundation underneath this bewildering landscape is much simpler than it may seem at first glance — there are two underlying core themes which require distinct capabilities, but which also complement and support each other: automation and big data on the one hand, and collaboration and dialogue on the other.

Automation and Big Data
The online advertising space is moving into a new dimension. With Facebook leaving the engagement marketing space, and moving firmly into the mass advertising field, the overall offer is ever growing. Brands now have a selection of global groups and corporations which they can tap into, and which provide them with highly sophisticated global targeting systems. Add to that the myriad national and regional online advertising possibilities that marketers have, and it becomes fairly obvious that advertising is heading towards automation. In the long run, there is no way to make the right real-time decisions on these massive global platforms without automated real-time support for targeting and buying. At the same time, analytical capabilities embedded in marketing automation systems are getting better and better, allowing brands to achieve more with less. All of this is driven by big data. For the longtest time, big data has been a buzzword, now it’s slowly becoming part of marketing’s reality that helps brands manage their assets.

So, does that mean marketing is recalibrating itself, moving away again from personal social interaction, back to large-scale impersonal advertising systems? Like in the golden days of old when the pride of the marketing team was their new shiny 60 second commercial? Only now that commercial is deployed across multiple platforms, managed on smart algorithms that adapt and optimize in real-time? Of course not. That would be forgetting the other side of the same coin.

Engagement and Dialogue
The flip side of automation and big data is engagement and dialogue. If you can effectively run your mass-marketing approach with digital global solutions, it means you can invest more time in those relationships that truly matter. Creating real and meaningful interactions with those people that do the most to drive your bottom line – ambassadors, fans, evangelists – is becoming marketing’s second core competence. Last year’s football world cup showed us again that a powerful team always thrives on the support it gets from the people across the country. It’s the same for brands — you can do everything right on the field, but if you cannot motivate your fans to support you in the stands, you may lose against an opponent that has that fanbase ready and rocking.

Building your own pool of supporters and ambassadors is becoming now more crucial than ever. For a while brands tried to do this on Facebook. Now it turns out that it does not really work. For one, because Facebook never enabled the deep interactions with consumers that brands really need. But also because Facebook now focuses on what it does best: deliver targeted online advertising solutions, rather than focusing on likes and engagement. But consumers are still connected, communicating, creating, sharing. And brands need to become part of this in ways they themselves can shape and design. By collaborating with consumers and involving them as active partners in the marketing process, giving them a say and letting them be heard, brands can build their own marketing support systems that help drive revenue, adoption and trial.

If you only focus on large scale mass communication, your brand will become impersonal and distant — because you’re forgetting the human touch that only an enthusiastic, authentic base of supporters can bring you. And if you only focus on relationships, you’re missing out on the recruiting possibilities that large scale ad programmes can offer, minimizing the scope of your programmes.

Build a 21st Century Marketing Machine!
Use large scale marketing programmes, based on big data, to address large groups of consumers in the best possible way, and in that same process, identify those people who really want to engage with you. Build them a stage on which they can stand as your VIPs, and allow them to show off to the rest of the world why your brand is the one that matters most to them. Use their engagement and contributions to create meaningful content that can be used across all channels, to create advertising that is inspiring and authentic, so the virtuous cycle can begin once again, and continue as your on-going 21st century marketing machine.

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