Article

Kevin Adema
Kevin Adema 1 November 2016

Of Dragons, Dark Ages and Digital

It’s time to slay the digital dragon… On ancient maps, unknown spaces, those yet to be charted, were simply marked by the symbol of a dragon and the text: “HIC SVNT DRACONES”. It was a strong and clear warning: Be afraid for beyond this point, there is no clear understanding.

I realize fully that many markers and agency folks will quickly balk noting how marketing and map-making are radically different but frankly, many brands are still stuck in the dark ages.

To underline this point, a recent Forbes survey cited that “only 32% of brand marketers believe they’re executing an effective digital strategy”. Echo this with PWC’s recent worldwide advertising media spend report stating that only 17.5% of marketing media investment went towards digital (including both wired and mobile)

To help the 68% of brand marketers who aren’t effectively executing digital, I believe it’s critical that marketers understand the past to ensure they can best serve brands today and in the future.

The past: It all started about 100 years ago when marketing became a subject in business education, most notably at the University of Pennsylvania through their 1905 course, “The Marketing of Products.” This trend saw many developments pushing marketers through the six past “ages” of marketing: Product, Sales, Market, Target Market, Response and Social.

Today’s “Dialogue Age” is radically different. It’s instant, two-way communication and it demands new strategies and methods.

This Digital Dialogue Age has changed the role of the marketer from focusing on how to sell (4P focus) to focusing on how to inform (dialogue engagement focus).

In short, the marketer must focus on developing brands into trusted authorities, and through digital media (via guides, websites, blogs, social, content streams, etc.) understand how consumers engage with, speak to and yes, expect to be listened to by brands.

It’s quite simple – brands needs 5 things to thrive in the Digital Age:

  1. A robust understanding of how digital actually works and how it has radically changed the brand:consumer relationship;
  2. A solid approach to engagement and not just new digital-based tactics;
  3. A knowledge of how to segment/profile customers based on digital realities (traditional profiles don’t work);
  4. A strong handle on business intelligence through digital analytics and how to leverage these for sustained loyalty; and
  5. A depth of digital voicing to deliver the brand relevantly to the right audience via the right media.

Digital has undoubtedly changed the game of marketing. Grasp and deploy the new rules and new approaches, and great success will surely follow.

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