When it comes down to the question of whether or not traditional marketing is dead or alive I’d have to say that it hasn’t kicked the bucket yet but it’s certainly taken a back seat. Looking at it from a different angle, if all forms of traditional marketing were simply dropped tomorrow, no one would be doing too well at all. That said, I will return to my original statement that while it’s still around, newer forms of internet marketing and customer engagement have far surpassed it.
Taking a look at TV, one of the most traditional forms of advertising I’ll turn to the findings of Morgan Stanley analyst, Benjamin Swinburne. In an article published this past January about declining TV viewership, his findings show that, “TV companies have relied more and more on subscription revenue rather than ad revenue to make their numbers.” The article, written by Jim Edwards from Business Insider goes on to explain, “. . . younger viewers don’t want cable or satellite service, just wireless internet that allows them to view video on their tablets and laptops.” The conclusion I’ve drawn from this is that despite this decline in traditional TV viewers, TV ads aren’t dead yet. However, as Edwards writes, “advertisers are now paying much more, for much less”, and I believe that this will be the deciding factor for TV ad marketing. This area of marketing, in my opinion, has gone from the first and largest channel to the last resort only for those competing firms that can afford the greater costs.
So what does work if this idea of traditional mass marketing has gone from the front lines to the trenches? My answer to this question is; the people. Last month, the Harvard Business Review published an article titles, “Marketing is Dead“. While I don’t fully agree with the first portion of the article, there are four good, key points offered to guide businesses in the right direction when it comes to marketing today. First, writer Bill Lee discusses the importance of buying local. The next three deal mainly with, “customer influencers, customer value proposition, and customer advocates”. My take away from this is the importance of knowing your customers and taking the time to listen to them. While there was some discussion about the use of social media, there was a greater emphasis given to building your customer network and reaching the networks of those customers as well. . . essentially, word-of-mouth. This portion of the article I completely agree with. In my experiences, customers who talk to their friends, families, and colleagues bring in more sales than ad campaigns ever have for me.
A final article by AdWeek, “PR Moves Front and Center“, discusses one of the largest people-influencers I’ve seen; storytelling. The examples that writer Stuart Feil uses largely includes creative campaigns using both still and video imaging along with music. Instead of just using social media, these video campaigns inspire consumers to share the message on their own social media channels combining the message of this article with the thoughts from the previous article I discussed. If companies like Starbucks, Adobe, Embassy Suites Hotels, and American Express are using these storytelling tactics then you’ve got to ask the questions, “Why aren’t I?”.
In short, mass marketing isn’t dead but let’s just say it’s dormant. Without it, I believe that businesses would feel a negative impact however only relying on mass marketing will also have a negative effect. Listening to your customers and engaging them through storytelling and creative campaigns is the way to success in marketing today. Just looking at campaigns such as, “Dumb Ways to Die” by Metro regarding safety around trains will tell you this. Intriguing content and catchy songs, along with creative images and fun stories will spread your message and your brand a lot faster than your tradition broadcast TV ad.