I have personally really seen a massive shift in how people and businesses market their products and services over the last 20+ years but has marketing really changed? No, the marketing principles at the core stay exactly the same but what does move and shift is the demands and in the marketplace and the trends, techniques, strategies and technologies to deliver those objectives. Marketing anything isn’t that complicated you are basically warming people up to buy from you but what is now different is people’s expectations on how you will do that. People expect so much more nowadays, they have so much choice and don’t wait to be told things anymore they can research it for themselves and get the best deal, so marketing effectively becomes even more of a challenge but I suppose because I am a marketer I know it isn’t rocket science there are just some core things you need to do to convince people you understand their needs.
Unlike years ago before the internet became an integral part of all of our lives, people would accept a badly targeted door drop, they would put up with ‘junk’ mail, they would accept you didn’t know their consumer habits and not bink an eyelid at a direct mail piece not addressed to them. Fast forward a couple of decades and it’s happened in my career lifetime data driven marketing is accepted, GDPR has stepped up, people recognise the value of their personal data and industries have had to step up.
Consumers no longer want to be associated with brands who do it badly, as a business you have to get it right but importantly you should want to. We all know that marketing to everyone you market to no one but let’s just say there was a time you could get away with not being as polished as now expected. Not anymore. You need to be good at what you do and have a holistic view of all of the touchpoints a customer can have be that either offline or online. Not knowing your customer, their behaviour and potential to spend is now no longer an option.
When I started my career in publishing things were very different in the print production world, people we’re just starting to use email as a medium and things went a lot slower. Nothing and I mean noting was digital. You would wait for proofs to come through the post……that was the norm. As technology changed. Printers became digitised. Marketing strategies were no longer above the line advertising heavy, marketing agencies were starting to layer their media and seeing the huge uplifts of doing that. People and business could feel the changes, knew they were coming but were either in denial or just resisting and not wanting things to change. Inevitably they did and you were either ahead of the curve or losing to competitors as a result.
I was incredibly lucky in my early career to have good mentors and moved from publishing into a Strategic and data driven database agency so my grounding for all of this couldn’t have been more timely. I worked on some very large high profile corporate clients in the UK and spent many my meetings in the bellies of company’s Senior management team working through their dilemmas on what they should do next to keep abreast of the moving print production and digital worlds way of doing things. I learnt a lot. I learnt the value of data when it was the bottom of people’s shoes, in the largest agencies eyes – it was stealing from their advertising spend so they had to keep us down and we were only given air space at that time as an afterthought in most presentations. Fast forward, things are very different now but what I have learnt is people have vested interests and don’t want to know about the best or latest way to do things if it is going to affect them (even if it is for the better!). People hate and are scared of change. Sometimes you need to let people catch up and I am good with planting the seed of change and waiting for them to be ready to move forward, it is having that insight that has helped me know that being the underdog can sometimes be a blessing, although you don’t recognise it at the time. Everyone is fighting for their space in the world but there is room for all of us and more. The Marketing world has changed dramatically and some ‘gurus’ have had to swallow their tongues but how you market and being a great marketer remains the same. If you aren’t directing the market, keeping ahead of the curve, know what is coming next and innovating you are lost. I intend to remain a fore thinker, leaving the ego behind and letting the by standers catch me if you can. It’s like a 40+ year old losing their looks…..it’s tragic but they can either turn to botox to mask the real them or embrace the face with the character and experience it has developed with life’s challenges – you choose. I know I rather be around real people who are honest and tell me as it is. You can’t hide in Marketing, the truth comes out in the end and good marketing stands the test of time whatever the new tech or trend and the bottom line is always your evidence. Being able to be adaptable and pivot like a tennis player has and will always be a marketer’s superpower.