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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, August 24, 2004 7:22 AM
The Future of Marketing 1
Anita Sharpe on Business

In this age of Tivo, satellite radio and limitless websites, what's the most effective way to reach an audience?

I'm curious to know what's on the minds of some of the innovators of the marketing world, and over the next few weeks hope to tap a number of their brains.

Today, I put the question to John Moore, who writes for brandautopsy and was the director of national marketing for Whole Foods Market and a retail marketing manager for Starbucks.

Here's John's view: \n\n'The answer to the question of marketing needing reform may be as simple as marketers TELLING THE STORY and not MAKING UP A STORY about why their brands/products/services are remarkable.\n\nTELLING THE STORY is about designing marketing communications to deliver on the promise all the while being clever, savvy, authentic, and true to the brand. It's about treating consumers as being interesting and interested. (Apple always tells the story.)\n\nMAKING UP A STORY is when marketers engage in outrageously gimmicky attention-grabbing antics that over-promise and woefully under-deliver. These marketers treat consumers as being boring, indifferent, and brainless. (Burger King seems to always make up a story.)\nIt's no wonder consumers have become jaded, cynical, and distrustful of marketing --they're forced to endure fairy tale marketing from marketers.' \n\n\n\n\n


anita - 12/27/2004 11:44:57 AM

Great comments. Isn't it interesting that just as technology makes it easier than ever to alter reality, we are all in search of something authentic and true.
David Polinchock - 12/26/2004 9:19:23 PM
Here's the big challenge to storytelling -- actually delivering on the story that you tell. We are seeing companies that are getting better at actually creating real stories that gives them a real point of differentiation in the marketplace. Sure, there was lots of buzz about the Subservient Chicken from Burger King, but how did it tie into the actual experience of eating at Burger King?

Now that 'experience' has become a hot marketing phrase, way too many companies are jumping in to say 'we can help you build your story!' Look at some of the reports from Xmas 2004. Niche toy stores did well this year because they actually provide a real point of differentiation. It's not simply about having the lowest prices. They create a different value because of their knowledge of toys and their unique inventory. Sometimes people want more then just lower prices in a warehouse-like setting.

Today, we want something that's authentic (to the brand, not necessarily authentic in its usual meaning), relevant and engaging. We need some level of entertainment in our experiences. And there's a huge opportunity out there for companies who know how to create those experiences. Right now, many agencies seem to be more interested in talking about creating experiences then in actually working with their clients to create them.

The future? Well, it will certainly include a pretty seismic shift in the agency business. And this is before we add things like AI shopping bots, who won't be influenced by advertising of any kind! Simply moving the 30 second spot from TV to the aisles of a retail store won't cut it. Renaming the 30 second spot 'branded content' probably isn't going to be a long terms answer either. It's either going to be a future of noise, where we simply hunt the audience down and club them over the head with our message; or a future of engagement, where the audience wants to participate in message.

Sorry for going on so long, as you can tell, it's a passion of mine! David
Katherine Stone - 9/1/2004 3:27:38 PM
Right on John! All the BS -- the buzz teams, the forehead tattoos, the temporary stores (case in point: the Meow Mix Cafe), the silly ads (case in point: the Arby's oven mitt)-- they're all simply efforts to attract attention. 'See me!' But they generally have little to no meaning, and show very little understanding of and respect for the people to whom they're communicating. Companies that tell stories, rather than make them up, show respect for the consumer.
Greg Brooks - 8/29/2004 3:36:06 PM
Back in the day, we all relied on the media (earned or paid) to reach the end user and the opinion leader. There are still times when that approach is the right one to take.

But my guess is the future of PR looks a helluva lot like the present of community relations -- lots of one-on-one conversations, a huge emphasis placed on relationships with opinion leaders in narrow segments and a renewed emphasis on 'high touch,' even if the tools are 'high tech.' Sure, the 'community' marketers are working with might be customers one day or reporters and editors the next, but the principle holds.

There are probably two things at work here…

Thing one: People are more connected than ever, but more personally isolated than ever -- and *that* changes how marketers have to work. We chat with people online, but seldom (if ever) see their faces. We don’t know — and often fear or detest — our neighbors. The great social institutions that people built communal relations around in the past, such as church, have eroded or modified so that they’re no longer the hub that all these little spokes of communication and relationship grow out of. Why? Because they’re disconnected from each other in most aspects of their lives.

Thing two: If you’re really trying to engage people, media relations and advertising isn’t the best way to do it. I know that, even as I type those words, there are heresy tribunals being prepared, but it’s the truth.

Now, by “engage� I don’t mean tell them about the latest Rotary Club fish fry. What I *do* mean is that if you’re trying to elicit broad-scale behavior change or insert discussion of your client’s issue into civic/online life, the press is good for publicizing an issue, but publicity is not the same as conversation with trusted entities.

Want to really get people to buy into your message? Stop publicizing and start engaging them in a dialogue.
Kevin - 8/24/2004 11:53:18 AM
What I find fascinating about this arena is that the companies that are doing the right thing often are reticent to stand up and talk about it. They fret they'll be held to a different standard. Meanwhile, the companies that have taken nothing but baby steps frequently see the marketing opportunity first and move to capitalize on that.


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