New landscape, new approaches
We live in the future. AI, drones, 3D printing, smart devices and wearables are all amazing technological developments that many considered impossible not so long ago. There is no doubt that these incredible technologies have changed our lives. But change is a disruption and disruptions can change the status quo permanently. For marketers, changes in technology are changing what effective marketing is and how it can be implemented.
Because of these changes, “… the marketing I see today is absolutely breaking down,” says Raja Rajamannar. Previous marketing methods just don’t work anymore.
Rajamannar is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Quantum Marketing and the CMO and CCO of Mastercard. The title of his book was inspired by the concept that as scientists discovered more complex and nuanced physics, they needed new terms and methods to deal with their subatomic discoveries. With today’s advances in technology and the impact it has on society, marketers also need to find new ways to help their businesses survive and thrive.
Rajamannar shared his thoughts on the future of marketing and the need for more “quantum” approaches at Insider’s RESHAPE 2021 Summit. “Change” is not the best word for the effect technology has had on the marketing world, especially recently. Disruption is the word Rajamannar uses – and there is no doubt that we are experiencing another great disruption. The future of successful marketing, Rajamannar believes, is at odds with what most would consider traditional marketing practices. However, this is not the first time the marketing world has seen such a major upheaval.
Disruptions in marketing
Rajamannar claims that there have been four major “disruptions” in marketing – each related to technological advances and sociological changes. Understanding these big changes and their impact on marketing is vital for brands to be effective in marketing in the future.
In his interview with RESHAPE 2021, Raja Rajamannar outlined each of the key marketing disruptions throughout history. He then offered advice to help businesses and marketers best adapt to the changing landscape.
Rajamannar pointed out that in the days of antiquity, the “rational” approach was the original and most popular marketing strategy. With this approach, the focus is on the product. What is the quality of the product like? How is it packaged? How will it meet a need? These questions provide a way, a clear logic, for the consumer to come to the conclusion that a particular product is best for them. The methods of logic-based marketing are still popular and important today, but Rajamannar says there is one big mistake in using this method on its own: people are not rational.
While humans can make rational decisions, we are at our core emotional beings. The first biggest change in the world of marketing came when marketers realized the power of emotional attraction. Emotional marketing is extremely effective.
Emotion-focused marketing aims to evoke emotional responses in the consumer. Rajamannar points to one of the company’s most successful marketing activities and one of the most successful in the world: Mastercard’s “priceless” campaign.
The “priceless” campaign didn’t talk about the Mastercard product. No pricing, protections, benefits, or any single feature of the product were mentioned. In fact, mentioning the product was almost completely avoided. Rather, it focused on those little “priceless” moments that everyone experiences in the course of their lives. Those priceless moments were things like graduations, birthdays, and parents having “firsts” with children. These moments were the focus of the ads. The campaign took advantage of the intangible and the indefinable to imply that their product was doing a great job behind the scenes without needing to be mentioned, and focused on things that made consumers feel good. These wonderful moments are then passively connected to the product. Rajamannar says that this campaign was not only successful, it has remained for over 24 years.
The internet and data-driven marketing
The next major disruption in marketing was the age of the internet. Data-driven marketing has changed the marketing world. Data points are now not only available at the macro level, but also at the micro level for individual consumers for observation and use.
Data analysis made possible by the advent of the internet has enabled marketers to create bespoke, personalized experiences. These tailored experiences are what modern consumers expect. Why? Because the age of the internet has given consumers the opportunity to consume and achieve the products they want without paying attention to anything else. Think of this as the days of television versus the current age of content streaming. In the era when programmed television predominated, viewers had limited choices and could only see what was available on the channels they had access to. Today, consumers can only stream the movies and shows they are interested in while ignoring everything else. Control has shifted from those who make and distribute products to those who consume them.
This massive agency shift has also hit the marketing landscape. Marketers need to change the way they think and approach consumers as the factors they previously relied on change. Many elements that marketers relied on are disappearing completely.
Brand loyalty is dead
The first two massive shifts in marketing presupposed the existence of something that companies and brands have always relied on to some extent: loyalty. Rajamannar points out that the internet age is maturing – the fourth disruption we now live in – as an erosion of concepts like loyalty. This is due to both the growth of consumer-controlled technology and an oversaturation of things like rewards and loyalty systems. How many rewards / loyalty cards do you have? Well, how many of these companies are you completely loyal to? Most consumers, according to Rajamannar, view loyalty systems as a point of value – not something that traditionally demands or attracts actual loyalty.
How to adapt to disruptions in the marketing world
So what can companies do to best adapt to the current and future technological change? At the RESHAPE summit, Rajamannar recommended three things in particular.
First, education. Organizations need to educate their teams and executives about upcoming technologies and their potential impact on products and the marketing process. From a management perspective, education is key. Not only should marketers have plans to get the current technology in the hands of users, they should also have plans for how upcoming technologies can be used to reach consumers.
Second, companies in the education sector need to review their current infrastructures. Marketers need to understand that every connected device is a potential point for both trading and marketing. For example, smart speakers and other smart devices are not just channels for consumers to place orders but to receive recommendations through the device’s AI or user interface. Businesses need to understand how consumers use their technology and use that knowledge for sales and reach.
Finally, Rajamannar says marketers must strive to become “true general managers.” Because in order for marketers to be most effective at every level of a business, they need to understand how data and analytics drive product reach and sales.
Rajamannar’s thoughts on the future of marketing make it clear that understanding how marketing has changed is critical to understanding how it will change. This allows marketers to make the best possible decisions when adjusting their strategies. The ever-growing “Internet of Things” means that small and large businesses will soon be competing on level ground – and therefore competition will be fierce. It is up to the marketers and their organizations to ensure that they are well educated and thus ready for the future.
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