We have reached an all new era of doing business now, and in today’s turbulent marketplace, it’s important that our marketing strategy is including all disciplines of marketing, not just mass media advertising, argues copywriter Christopher Merlotti in this opinion piece.
Gone are the days of forcing messaging down a consumer’s throat with expensive above-the-line efforts; marketers need to start to adopt what I call ’empathetic marketing’ to with over their all important and well educated customers.
All advertising is marketing, but not all marketing is advertising. If you and your organisation see it as the same, then now is the time to rethink your marketing efforts. Basically, it means that you’re opening up a box of crayons (“marketing”), and trying to create a colourful masterpiece with only one colour (“advertising”), then wondering why the canvas is lacklustre and not attracting interested buyers.
The other day, one of my housemates said to me, “as a marketer, your industry is dying because I just ignore all advertising now, and I don’t think I’m alone”. This is quite an interesting statement as he was highlighting the very misconception between marketing and advertising.
Marketing is an all-encompassing, essential practise, which includes elements such as organisational strategy, customer research, trend investigation, public relations, social media promotion, product design, pricing techniques, promotional campaign activities, distribution management, demographic analysis, positioning, competitor research, innovation, concept design, bundling, content creation, copywriting, and so on. All of these efforts need to be working together to build a successful organisation.
It’s understandable where all of this confusion has emerged about what marketing actually is. Advertising is really the only highly overt form of marketing which everyone actively notices. It’s called ‘above-the-line’ and is the promoting of brand awareness to a large target audience via mass media, such as television, print and radio. My house mate was half right: the traditional mass advertising trend is starting to become ineffective, because consumers are so utterly bombarded now that they are learning to automatically filter out messages of no interest to them.
The practise of marketing is very different these days, with organisations shifting away from just advertising, and towards what I call Empathetic Marketing: developing a strategy that focuses on catering to the human person. Advertising is all about forcing messages onto potential customers, but other methods of marketing are now far more effective and consumer friendly. Organisational blogging is a way to reach people with general content that engages them in a less intrusive way. PR activities draw people in, encourage their feedback by joining in on the conversation, thus creating highly coveted word-of-mouth. Podcasting is usually free and enjoyable for people to listen to at their convenience, and if scripted well, will gain a following of consumers that actively download each episode and end up as an advocate. Social media connects consumers to each other and offers advice and opens forums, thus easing the barriers to purchase.
Today’s consumers expect more than noisy, forceful messages. They want to be catered to, appreciated, wooed and persuaded. They distrust forceful messaging, and look to other, more trustworthy sources that essentially are other angles of marketing. This doesn’t mean that you can use marketing to manipulate them in more subtle ways, as that’s not true. Today, people are highly educated and informed, and are extremely judgemental about these channels, so effective marketing requires high quality efforts. Poor campaigns and uninspired campaigns will surely fail.
Today’s marketing channels are new, innovative, fluid and highly digital, and so marketing efforts must reflect this, offering the consumer engagement, information, and interactive advice. The key to successful marketing is to value your customers; engage with them, offer them advice, respond, invest your time in them and customise your offering to them, so that their experience is ultimately unique and rewarding. This is not simply recommended, it is essential as your target audience now expect it. There are too many competitors out there waiting for your organisation to ‘drop the ball’.
Marketing is no longer about forcing advertising down a customer’s throat; it’s about getting to know your customer and being interested in what they really want, their preferences and opening communication in order to build relationships. Think carefully about them and how your product or service will benefit them and then actively engage with them to demonstrate your empathetic marketing.