Marketing strategies both on- and offline can be described as in a state of utter unpredictability these days.
I enjoyed reading Mitch Joel's recent post that suggests brands will soon maintain their own journaling departments. Why? Because objective reporting on products and services is far closer than traditional advertising to what works in today's market.
If you're not a reader of Joel's blog, do yourself a favor and connect. His thoughts on social media are cutting edge and always insightful. And sometimes borderline outrageous, like the one I mention here.
I also recently perused the transcript of a conference entitled Future of Marketing 2: The Personalization Revolution, produced by ThoughtLead earlier this year. Personalization, in this case, refers to the trend in marketing that increasingly uses personal history to interface with potential customers. In that highly-recommended document, Pete Krainik of the CMO Club says, "(Personalization is) really thinking in terms of truly customer-centric recommendation engines not company-centric selling engines."
Customer-centric recommendation engines. Sort of like a journalist relates information in an unbiased way, serving society's need to know and the individual reader's predilections.
Of course, devising algorithms that categorize (and catalog) customers is one side of this discussion, along with concern over loss of privacy.
But the ethical meaning of personalization resides in the fact that most of us want to serve real needs of real people, with fairness, generosity, and a tidy profit. And personalization, or marketing as concern for meeting the individual's needs more than concern for selling your company, looks to be an excellent modus operandi.
When we think of ourselves more as journalists than marketers, we seek the visceral connection that our products and services have with the heart of real people. I find Shama Kabani's statement in the ThoughtLead document to be enlightening:
"If you can connect with your consumer’s identity, you win. It isn’t your brand that matters. It’s how your brand is a reflection of them that matters. … (T)he local animal shelter down the street has an easier time attracting fans than your B2B conglomerate. Supporting animals in the local community says something about people who like the page. It says they’re good people who like animals and supporting the local neighborhood. What does liking your company online say about them? The future belongs to those marketers who can find a way to become a part of their consumer’s identity. You have to go beyond what your product can do for them and focus on what your product says about them." (Emphasis mine.)
If you think this is easy, think again. Identifying effective marketing strategies today is like a new marriage: you have to re-discover the other every day.