The New Marketing
26 November 2014
I think a lot of people don’t know what marketing should look like in an internet age.
Some people simply treat the whole internet as an a new marketing channel, like print or TV, through which they can blast their messages. Others claim that digital technologies have transformed our world so much that marketing is dead.
The truth is more subtle. Consumers no longer rely on classic push marketing to hear about products they might want. Nor do they necessarily trust messages they do hear from brands. Yet there are more messages and products than ever before, so they must employ new methods to find their way through the thicket of choice.
The Old Marketing
Traditionally marketing came before sales. Consumers made decisions based on ads. Sure, they might tell friends and family about a particularly good or bad product. But that dynamic was always relatively weak compared to the power of the marketer to influence millions.
As a result people felt distant from the brands that served them. A product was made and sold to them and they had little say in it. The service might be good but it was also opaque. How do you know how good the after-sales support is before you buy it? You don’t.
The New Marketing
Now peer effects are much stronger. People seek validation from the crowd before making decisions and have greater power to influence the buying decisions of others.
There is also more transparency about buying decisions - people know what they’re getting ahead of time. This brings them closer to brands and builds trust. Those companies that listen to what their customers say can create better products, more quickly.
Marketing, sales, the product itself and after-sales support are now completely intertwined. At every stage, peer effects are more powerful than push.
The Stages of Marketing
As always, focussing on the user’s needs and experiences is one of the most reliable ways to ensure a good result.
Here’s how I think about the stages of marketing:
- Demand generation: Raise awareness of the product e.g. through search, banners, email, social, affiliates, platforms, partnerships.
- Decision support: Overcome purchasing barriers e.g. through chat, documentation, blogs, communities, reviews.
- On-boarding: Encourage deeper engagement with the product e.g. through sign up flows, first-run experiences, tutorials, lifecycle emails.
- Peer marketing: Facilitate promotion from existing customers to new customers. e.g. by ‘baking in’ sharing or platform effects.
- Co-creation: Listen and use data for continuous improvement e.g. through social, communities, feedback, reviews