Thursday, September 8, 2011

Marketing's new normal.

There seems to be a steady stream of books offering breathless predictions about the death of advertising and, by extension, agencies.

I’ve recently come to believe that the Chicken Littles who squawk loudest about the perils of not embracing the new normal in marketing are secretly rooted in the past.

Good marketing professionals – marketers and agencies alike – realized this several years ago, adapted and got on with things. Successful companies tend to do this. Others don’t. They go out of business. Just as Mr. Darwin predicted.  Moreover, the next generation of talent streaming into the marketing field are probably clueless as to what these authors are debating. If you want to make a 25-year-old ROTFL (whether they be a brand manager or a copywriter), refer to the web as “new media.”

Those who still go on about the how the business is changing do so because deep down they still use the wonder years of network television and national magazines as the yardstick by which to measure change.

The new normal banishes words like "traditional" and "nontraditional." Is a print ad with an embedded QR code traditional? Or how about bus board with a mobile call-to-action? You get the point.

The new normal doesn’t view "brand" through the narrow lens of a product’s TV or print campaign because consumers build brand impressions through a complex mix of first-hand experiences, peer opinions and, yes, intangible and emotional imagery.

The new normal views interactive media as a powerful brand-building medium because it has the ability to inspire deep engagement, expose customers to peer reviews and immerse customers in highly emotional brand narratives.

The new normal embraces media as a source of creativity, not as the pipes through which we beam ideas. The context in which we appear in a customer’s life is often as important as what we say.

The new normal embraces metrics, both hard and soft. Those who embrace only one set over the other will struggle. Ignore ROI or store traffic and nobody will care about the awareness gain. Likewise, click-through rates at the expense of relevance, differentiation and likability will not sit well when the brand degrades to commodity status. True professionals work hard to balance these seemingly conflicting goals, and that’s why they’re good at what they do.

The new normal also recognizes the business value of TV, print and radio. Good luck reaching C-Suite executives with a viral video, or my mom, for that matter, through Twitter. And let me know how efficient your street teams are relative to a spot on an NFL game in reaching millions of guys. When we close our eyes to the power and effectiveness of mass advertising, we are as blind as those who ignore the creative possibilities within social media or mobile marketing. True professionals embrace all forms of marketing and know when and how to deploy each.

So let’s just get on with it. The industry doesn’t need to change. It needs a good dose of creative destruction. Let market forces take their toll. Those who embrace the new normal will prosper. Those who don’t will not. Couldn’t be simpler. Don’t you love capitalism?

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