In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, a significant transformation is currently underway, one that is reshaping the very essence of how businesses connect with their audiences. The implications of this shift are profound, with some brands soaring to unprecedented heights of success while others, even well-established household names, find themselves faltering. If you’re eager to explore the future of marketing and discover how your business can not only survive but thrive in this changing landscape, continue reading to uncover the strategies that are shaping the marketing of tomorrow.
In 1954, the legendary management guru, Peter Drucker, declared that because the purpose of a firm is to create a customer, marketing was one of only two basic functions of an organization, along with innovation. For more than half a century after that, marketing had to travel a long, hard, marginal road.
Most business owners did not accept that creating customers was the purpose of a firm. They saw marketing as a cost center, with difficult-to-justify costs and hard-to-measure, intangible benefits. Marketing was seen as an expense, not an investment. Marketing came to be viewed as a means of selling with interruptive, repetitive, and annoying ads, that attempted to bludgeon customers into submission. The results were incremental at best. As a result, Chief Marketing Officers had the shortest tenure in the C-suite.
Yet there is now good news. Although the initial impact of digital technology on marketing was simply to increase the amount of interruptive and annoying advertising, Jeff Rosenblum in his new book Exponential: Transform Your Brand by Empowering Instead of Interrupting (McGraw Hill, January 2022) explains why marketing is having a kind of rebirth and helping to create exponential benefits, not just incremental gains in sales.
Why Change In Marketing Is Now Under Way
“Advertising,” says Rosenblum, “is shifting from technology-fueled messages that interrupt the consumer journey to data—connected content that carries people through the consumer journey.”
“Some brands” writes Rosenblum, “are dominating the competition, while others—including many household names — are going broke. The fundamental difference between those two groups is to what extent they empower their customers.”
Six steps are particularly important in becoming an exponential brand…
1. Establish A Clear, Customer-Focused Purpose For The Firm Itself
It turns out that the problems of marketing were less to do with marketing itself and more to do with firm and the way the C-suite used marketing. The changes now under way are closely related to the move away from seeing the purpose of the firm as maximizing shareholder value and towards one of co-creating value for customers. With primacy of the customer in place, marketing can then play its proper role in creating empowering content and meaningful experiences.
2. Get The Right Behavior And Culture In Place First
“Firms,” says Rosenblum, “are coming to see that in a naked world, they are completely exposed. Embracing transparency isn’t as simple as doing away with bad behavior.” Nor is it about virtue-signaling on the latest hot topic. “It’s about a fundamental shift in corporate behavior. Advertising still has an important role. But firms need to focus first on purpose, behavior, and culture before they focus on external messaging. Brands that know that and act on it are the ones that achieve exponential growth.
3. Create To Content That Carries People Through The Consumer Journey.
It’s about removing friction, understanding customers’ emotional and functional needs at every step along the way, and moving customers toward their goals. The brands that use this approach to improve the lives of their customers are then “able to build an army of evangelists who carry their brand messages forward more effectively than traditional advertising.”
4. Show How The Firm Improves Customers’ Lives
The new type of advertising, says Rosenblum, “doesn’t need to be a Patagonia-inspired public service initiative promising to save the world. While those efforts are great, most people don’t wake up in the morning expecting brands to hug the trees and save the manatees. They simply want their own lives improved, one small step at a time.”
It can be about making life more fun and easy, convenient, cheaper, or more meaningful. “The common thread between all of these exponential brands,” say Rosenblum, “is that they have found an authentic and valuable place in their customers’ lives.
5. Refocus Messaging On Immersive Content
“Advertising is not dead,” explains Rosenblum. “That false eulogy has been written before. It just needs to be redefined to be about immersive content and experiences, not just interruptive messages. Interruptive advertising might be enough to get people into the sales funnel but not through the sales funnel. That’s why empowering content is so critical.
6. Enable The Co-Creation Of Value For Customers
The revolution “isn’t simply about consumers gaining access to information. It’s about a shift in information flow from asynchronous to synchronous. For the past century, communication was asynchronous—one way. Brands created stories and the audience listened.”
Business communication is increasingly interactive, like any healthy relationship. “Consumers tell brands what they want, either explicitly through text, speech or implicitly by their behavior. Exponential brands respond with optimized products, content, and experiences.”