Our Marketing Tools Are Out Of Date

Cropped image of a man's hands grabbing a tool from his toolbox

Marketers are behind the times in the tools and approaches they use, says Twitter’s head of global business marketing, Daina Middleton.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

“As marketers, the tools, the philosophies, the approaches that we’re using are a little out of date because most of them came came about during the birth of radio and television,” said Middleton, speaking at Sydney’s Social Media Week about marketing in the participation age.

“Marketing through persuasion, which was the radio and television way of marketing, is really over.

“In today’s world ,thinking back versus the old way of communications, brands really don’t find participants today, participants find brands.”

Referencing a formula about participation called The Participation Way, based on intrinsic motivations, Middleton said these principles hadn’t been used in marketing before as they hadn’t been relevant until now.

“The notion is, if you create an environment that has all three of those characteristics, you’re more likely to have better participation and as marketers what happens when you have greater participation? You have greater performance, because actions are the manifestation of participation and we’re all measured on actions today,” said Middleton.

“There are three variables,” she said. “The first one I called ‘discovery’, but discovery is really about being competent. It’s about helping people understand more about your product and service and becoming more competent as a consequence of that. As marketers, we’re all really good at helping our customers learn more about a product or service.

“The second one though is where it becomes more difficult,” continued Middleton. “This is about ’empowerment’. It’s about allowing people to participate through choice and having them provide meaningful contributions through your brand or service.

“Lastly, ‘connect’. It’s about the fact that we are human and we love to connect with other people, especially people who have passions similar to ourselves.”

In today’s age Middleton says brands are really asking people to take part in conversations, however she noted the marketing language used when she was working at technology company Hewlett-Packard (HP) was war metaphors and analogies.

“We were using language like ‘taking aim at our target’, ‘defending our share’, ‘gaining shelf space’ and all the guerrilla tactics we needed to take to be successful,” said Middleton.

“These were big wake up calls for me.”

Middleton proposed marketers should ditch the war language and instead embrace gardening analogies.

“I think we need to act and behave more like nurturist organisations if truly we want people to participate with us and have ongoing relationships with us,” she said. “If you’re going to be a nurturist organisation, there are five rules to think about.”

1. Embracing testing and learning

“Constantly testing and learning and having the ability to swap something out the minute results start to diminish is really key.”

Social Media Week

2. Innovate, don’t perfect

“Perfection is overrated. It’s better to innovate, try something and move on and activate.”

3. Act quickly and motivate others

“Marketing touches a lot of places in the organisation today, so moving quickly and involving others in decision making is key.”

4. Mixing, blending and don’t recreate

“Partnerships are key, look for opportunities to tap on to other brands and figure out how you mix and blend and recreate you marketing on a regular basis.”

5. Embrace failures in the pursuit of results

“It’s difficult to find an organisation that actually champions failure in the pursuit of results. That’s one key thing for any organisation, moving forward is going to be really important to allow people to fail in an effort to get it right. That’s going to happen in today’s marketplace.