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The Evolution of Marketing and Communication


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Social media didn't just happen. We've evolved into a culture that demands immediate, transparent, and authentic communication. We desire this not only with each other, but with the companies and brands with which we affiliate. Understanding how we arrived at this place, and how marketing and communication has evolved helps us understand the context as we move forward.

Published in: Business, Technology

The Evolution of Marketing and Communication

  1. 1. THE EVOLUTION OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATION Embracing and Leveraging the Living, Breathing, Marketing Landscape by Tara Mahady and Kelley-Sue LeBlanc, AleuroNPO Ta r a M a h a d y • t a r a @ a l e u r o s o l u t i o n s . c o m • P H : 6 0 3 . 5 6 8 - 1 6 1 2 • Tw i t t e r @ T M a h a d y w w w. a l e u r o n p o . c o m
  2. 2. Table of Contents From Yesterday to Today 1 One-Way Communication 1 Old School Marketing and Communication 1 The Online World 1 Power Shift 2 An Individual’s Attention Span Is His/Her Most Valuable Commodity 2 Earning People’s Attention 3 Your Brand is the Sum of Your Constituents’ Brands 3 The Way It Used To Be 3 The Personal Brand 4 Listen, Reflect, Connect 4 Making the Mental Shift 4 First Steps 5 Creating Community Through Social Media 5 i
  3. 3. From Yesterday to Today One-Way Communication Our earliest ancestors communicated around the camp fire, building teams of the best hunters and gatherers through conversation. We then learned to pass along our stories to other tribes and generations through paintings on cave walls. We spread our stories later through messen- gers, pigeons, and on horseback. Next came the printing press and mass communication was born. One person, business, or political party could spread their message to a large group of people all at once. The roots of modern-day marketing and advertising are planted firmly in the pages of the newspapers that brought the news to people’s breakfast tables. Next, the radio, which offered even more widespread distribution and connection with the addition of sound and voice. Television brought us a visual connection with people and events that we never would have otherwise known about. All of these advances were miraculous and wonderful at the time and changed our world forever. Even with the many gifts these modern miracles of- fered, they did not, inherently, provide something critical that we humans crave - almost above all else - that ‘around the camp fire’ feeling of companionship, caring and communion. Old-School Marketing and Communication Modern marketing has traditionally used these platforms as a way to broadcast a carefully con- structed message that was completely under the control of marketing and development profes- sionals. Billions of dollars have been spent on creating the perfect logo and brand identity, de- veloping the most creative advertising campaign, and polling focus groups to find out the best way to ‘sell’ a product or service. Marketing equalled advertising and had to appeal to a mass audience. It relied on breaking into people’s attention spans and campaigns were completely one-way - organization to constituent or listener. In this environment, the only way to gain visibility was through the media. The masses were constantly being talked at and preached to, and we had very little control over what information we received. Ryan Hultayer via Flickr The Online World As we all know, the internet and social media have changed marketing and communication in ways many of us might never have envisioned. However, many organizations and companies are still applying old-school marketing and communication best practice to this completely dif- ferent medium. Consequently, in many cases, struggling to meet their goals. The internet allows 1
  4. 4. for discussion and participation and the era of pushing out a carefully crafted message and ex- pecting people to act on that message is waning. Now, there is an even more powerful way for organizations and companies to reach their communities... but a change of mindset is in order. Power Shift An Individual’s Attention Span Is His/Her Most Valuable Commodity As options for accessing news, information, products, and services expand exponentially every day, companies must adapt to the new reality that people simply will not - and don’t have to - pay attention to things they don’t want to anymore. As marketing and communication profes- sionals, we may feel that we have a new unwanted burden that has been inflicted on us unbid- den. However, it’s important to remember that we as a culture have made this happen. Think back just twenty years ago. It used to be that we had HBO and TV Guide and built our sched- ules around programs we wanted to see or hear. We sat through ad after ad allowing compa- nies to take up our valuable time and thought. Now the power has shifted as we have many more options from which to choose. We’ve become empowered as individuals and now de- mand that we have choice and control over how, when and where we are marketed to. Whether its via an email newsletter, on Facebook, through Twitter, an RSS Feed, or even more traditional channels, we decide to receive the information we want and receive it on our terms. On Our Own Time Today, we’re able to look for the particular service or product that will suit each of our very unique wants and needs - immediately and on demand. We no longer have to watch ads on television thanks to TiVo and DVR. We can choose just one song from an entire album and de- cide when and how we want to listen to that music. We rent movies on demand, listen to the radio when and where we want, and we can access stations all over the world. We are even picking our celebrities. If this isn’t a grassroots, democratic process, I don’t know what is. We’re each in control of what information we consume, and organizations and businesses are adjusting to this shifting ground. 2
  5. 5. Earning People’s Attention Organizations and individuals have to work very hard to get noticed in this online and on- demand world of ideas and information. Most don’t have access to mainstream outlets to mar- ket their products or services. This new world offers exciting ways for us to tell our stories our- selves. It also allows us to easily have instant, meaningful conversations with our constituents. We can ask questions and get feedback. We can foster multilayered conversations, because people want to engage with the organizations and people they care about. We desire relation- ships. If you need the attention of a community you must ask for it and then open up yourself to the dialogue. You will get people’s attention by listening to them, talking with them, and demonstrating that you value their what they have to say. Your Brand is the Sum of Your Constituents’ Brands The Way It Used To Be We all place enormous value on our organizational brands, and many of us attach our profes- sional identities to these brands. As consumers we put our faith in brands that resonate with our values and desires. Some things about successful brands will never change - distinctive de- sign, experiences that engender powerful emotional connections, lifestyles, image, and commu- nity. But passive resonance is no longer enough. In such a dynamic, fast-moving information environment, people are demanding authenticity and transparency. They want to know who and what is behind the brand they choose to share their attention span with - and that they will promote. We must begin to welcome our advocates in and offer them a voice and the power to help shape that which they invest in and care about. DSevilla via Flickr Creative Commons The Library of Congress via Flick A Living, Breathing Brand Devotees of a certain brand now want to engage with each other more than they want to engage with the company. They want to connect directly, through conversation and shared experience via blogs, ratings and reviews, and through social networks. They share their opinions freely and collaboratively, creating messaging that a room full of marketers and ad execs could never craft in their wildest dreams. Most importantly, that content, because it comes from the people, is trusted more than an organizationally crafted marketing message. 3
  6. 6. This means that organizations now have to rely on their audiences to create and promote their brands. The organization makes a promise through its brand and it’s the organization’s job to fulfill that promise. The people will be the mirror reflecting back what the organization truly is. Sometimes that means your “Brand” is not the real deal unless it can live and breathe and in- corporate the reflection of the community. If an organization is really paying attention to the new brand, they are asking their constituents questions and listening. They are inviting their constituents to help them create the brand. This is a dynamic process and it means that the brand is constantly changing and evolving. That is not to say an organizational brand is out of control or without guidance, it is simply in this new paradigm more agile, iterative, and aware. The Personal Brand With all the online tools available to us - blogs, social networks, etc. - we all have the ability to create and demonstrate our own individual brands and thought leadership and reach a much larger audience than our previous “networking” activities offered. A successful personal brand is simply an extension of who we truly are. It is a digital representation of our character, skills, and passions. It will be supported by the people who know us, and validated in our accom- plishments. It used to be that individuals would inherit some brand equity from their em- ployer, but now we truly understand that it is the people that make an organization. We judge the organization based upon the collection of personal brands associated with it. Because peo- ple are now empowered to support a brand (or not), their own personal brands lend equity to the organizational brands they choose to support. Listen, Reflect, Connect Making the Mental Shift To successfully gain and keep the attention of our audiences, we need to stop thinking of them as just ‘audiences.’ They are our communities. We have to trust these people who care about us and our organizations. Letting go of a little control can be scary. “What if someone says some- thing nasty about our organization?” “What if someone gives information that is incorrect?” The list of worries and anxiety is long. But, what would you do if anyone did any of those things ‘offline?‘ These are real people engaging with you and with other constituents. Afford them the same respect, courtesy, and room to communicate that you would if you were face-to- face. The rules are really not altogether different. A community is a community. 4
  7. 7. First Steps Once you’ve made the mental shift into this new way of marketing and communicating, here are just a few things to keep in mind. • Foster communities online and off. • Listen to what your constituents are saying - at least 80% of the time. • Provide content they value wherever you can (especially online) and as often as is reasonable. Ask your constituents what kind of content they’re looking for. • Create dialogue by asking them what they want from your organization, posing provocative questions, soliciting opinions, and sharing unique content. • Engage with your constituents by responding to them when they reach out. • Think Web presence - not static Website. • Ask your community to share their stories themselves. Crafted testimonials are great, but sto- ries straight from the source are better. Creating Community Through Social Media Social Media is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of communication. People are connecting with old and new friends, people in their own towns, and people halfway across the world. Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Flickr are just a few examples of some of the most popular social networking tools. The definition of community hasn’t changed - we are just evolving; finding new ways to participate in our communities and opening up new possibilities about the communities we can now join and engage with. With new tools and in new places we are coming back to the camp fire. 5