Marketing has always been a many-headed beast. For every wonderful product, service or brand that is offered to the customer, there are as many different channels that are available to be used to promote them. Yet today, we encounter products and services, old and new, in every aspect of our lives, and thanks to new technology we are able to interact with them, and the people behind them, in unprecedented and increasingly direct ways. But where does all of this leave the traditional idea of marketing? With so many different ways of marketing a product, who is really responsible for it any more? And what role has the changing technological landscape played in transforming how we think about all of this it? Here are my thoughts.
It’s not just about the marketing department now
My feeling is that the lines between traditional marketing roles and the rest of business are becoming increasingly blurred. Customers don’t distinguish between your product and your marketing department – so, the theory goes now, why should we as business people? The marketing of a product for most customers today, is essentially the same as the product itself – as is the experience we create for customers in our stores or when they shop with us online.
It means that marketing is no longer operating in isolation – it is now everyone’s responsibility – and I think that much of the reason for this is down to the importance of relationships. As customers find that there are more and more ways for them to actively engage with the companies behind the products and services they buy, so there are an ever increasing number of opportunities for us to engage with these customers and market our products to them.
So, for many companies, the idea of marketing has moved far beyond what a traditional marketing department would normally do: today, a car manufacturer’s engineers might be asked to live stream the first testing of a newly-developed engine on Facebook – and when they do this, they alone hold the fate of their company’s brand image in their hands. In that moment they have an opportunity to forge (or disrupt) relationships between the company and its customer base, in a way that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
Tech changes everything
Of course, much of this change is down to new technology, and the revolution we’ve seen in that sector – particularly in terms of social media. It’s become easier than ever to create new, and very immediate connections, between many different parts of a company and its customers. In turn, it has also become easier for those customers to feedback and interact, to talk about your business, to create a buzz about it and, yes, start to market it themselves. Clearly this is one of the key reasons why content marketing has become so fundamentally important in recent years – as the number of opportunities for potential customers to consume and talk about content has increased, it has also become increasingly important to focus on making sure that the content you and your business create is of a high enough standard to stand out from the crowd.
In many ways it’s possible to argue that the responsibility for marketing has moved far beyond the walls of the marketing department, spread throughout the whole organisation and now encompasses the customer as well. What was once very much a one-way process – ‘this is our product/service – isn’t it great?’, is now two-way as customers are able to engage in a genuine conversation with the creators of the products and services they love.
That represents an incredibly powerful opportunity, for those companies who are ready to grasp it.