Many of the conversations had about marketing these days skew toward the technical, like search engines constantly updating their algorithms to try get a little closer to matching search intent rather than keywords in your content marketing and web development.
Even if you get lost in the jargon, this much is clear: Never have there been more outlets for brands to reach the consumer, nor have brands ever had so much insight into exactly who their consumers are.
And, from the other side, never have consumers had the range of options at their disposal that they do now, nor have they been positioned to make such well-informed decisions.
That said, is the essence of that transaction really any different than it was a generation ago? Two generations ago?
The more things change…
On the surface, the answer seems clear: Of course it is. We’re comparing an age when the media-consumption options were limited to three TV channels, a handful of radio stations, and a smattering of regional and national newspapers and magazines to one where you could lose an entire day just Googling “Why does my eye twitch?”
With the paths so clearly mapped out in the olden days, it was fairly safe to assume that the people you wanted to see your message would. The larger question was, could you afford the high cost of advertising? That’s much less of an issue now. But, even with targeted advertising now, it’s hard to say where an audience’s attention will settle at any given moment because there are exponentially more paths vying for it.
Consumers, however, still behave largely the same during the run up to a transaction. Then: We asked people we knew for opinions and recommendations about whatever it was we were considering, a product, a service, a dinner out. Today: We ask people we know for their opinions and recommendations. The only difference is the reach of those consultations is much broader.
Yet, the pursuit of affecting those decisions has been, and always will be, relentless.
Where technology once—not so long ago—provided a distinct advantage, now we’re all pretty much equipped with the same tools. So, in a world where everyone’s working from the same data, where do you find the advantage?
The new order was built on optimizing the tech. Pushed way down the list of priorities in the process were all the elements that made marketing feel like more of an organic connection: thought-provoking campaigns, intimate copy, unexpected imagery. But, with the leveling of the playing field, content is re-emerging as the driving force.
Therein lies the advantage now: original, engaging content smartly disseminated. Yeah, it’s basically the marriage of what have been portrayed as opposite, even conflicting, disciplines. The thing is, they never were. It was all a simple misunderstanding.
The old guard didn’t understand the tech. While the new one, comprised largely of grassroots operators with no marketing experience, treated the content as expendable. But we’ve come to understand that without one, the other is pretty pointless (read: ineffective).
However, applied by a savvy marketer, the message and the tech become a pointed influencer in a day when the hum of opinions being offered is deafening, but very little of it is of any real value.