How often do you think about the future of Marketing?
It's an interesting question to think about. To ponder. To speculate. In the past, I've made note that I do not consider myself a Futurist (as some have called me), but rather a Presentist. It's not humility over hubris (believe me, I have enough hubris for the both of us). It's not the fact that I do not claim to have fortune telling prowess (because those that do are liars). It's because there is so much change and flux in the current media, marketing and advertising climate, that the day to day changes and advancement in technology - and how connected it is making people - is enough to keep all of us busy for the next long while.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It's not just some cliché line you get out of a classic rock tune. It is still the song being sung and hummed by Chief Marketing Officers the world over. As much as the world changes and connects we tend to forget (or pretend it doesn't exist) that consumers have a very different interaction with a brand today than they did ten years ago. One of the dramatic shifts is that we live in the most branded generation ever. People care. are loyal too and are more interested in connecting with brands than ever before.
Think about it this way...
Can you name a product or service that has been referred to you where you then purchased it without doing any form of research online? Most people go to their doctor with a fairly keen understanding of what the prognosis will be because of online research (and, according to some recent studies, they're right more often than not). Groupon comes out and becomes the fastest business in the history of civilization to hit one billion dollars in sales. Formspring pops up out of nowhere and becomes a fifteen million-plus sized community before you can say, "what's a Formspring?"
What's a Marketer to do?
Many Marketers fall back on what they know. They'll talk about how it's still about the "big idea" or how you have to let the data work for you. They'll focus on CRM or attempt to optimize their traditional ad spend. Some will experiment with the new media channels and throw a pittance at things like search engine marketing, email marketing, and online display advertising. Some will push that even further and use their experimental budget for Facebook pages or help with Twitter.
The Era of Trepidation.
Too much choice almost always causes analysis/paralysis. It's the state where so much has changed and the options are so bountiful that you either wind up doing nothing, or you wind up doing everything you have always been doing - and not what you should be doing. All of this explosive growth (from the web browser, YouTube and Facebook to the iPhone, Twitter and Foursquare) is great for business and consumers, but it's causing a bit of a Marketing paralysis. Marketers are not as confident as they used to be. Marketers enter the Digital Marketing channels with trepidation and not with confidence.
Few of us know what this is and fewer of us know what to do.
Have confidence in the online and mobile channels. We can say with great confidence (and no trepidation) that this is not a fad. Yes, some channels will do better than others. Some platforms will survive while others may go away, but this is no different than traditional media. Not all TV shows become hits. Not all radio stations make the cut. Some newspapers perform better than others and the same can be said for magazines. In the end, the media channel is still vibrant with a fertile culture of consumers looking and wanting more.
What's with all of this trepidation? What do you think we need to do to get from the era of trepidation to the era of confidence?