The future of marketing, is NOT marketing. That is, traditional “marketing”, roughly defined as “creating demand and getting people to buy your stuff”, is not the future, but the past. In the future, Marketing will be based on one thing, and one thing alone: The Golden Rule.
Let me explain:
Years ago, around the turn of the previous century, electronic media was unheard of. No TV, No Radio, No Internet. None of the people who would create these things had done so (Al Gore wasn't even born yet).
Back then, people went to their local butcher, baker or candlestick maker, and the relative quality and price of goods and services were spread from people telling one another about then as they went along their business in the neighborhood. If the local butcher sold someone a bad piece of meat, everyone in the neighborhood knew about it pretty quickly, and the butcher had better correct the problem, or he would, just as quickly, be out of customers.
This is why we call person-to-person communications about businesses “word-of-mouth”.
Then, in the 20th century, things changed. Electronic media, starting with radio, then television (in all it's forms) became standard. People didn't ask their neighbor what was going on: they tuned in to Walter Cronkite or Mike Wallace. Business realized that they could pay money to get their names in front of the audience and try to capture their attention.
And for a while, it worked.
Adults got all the information about what they should buy from Ed Sullvan, MASH or Married With Children. Kids got it from MTV and Saturday morning cartoons. Everyone watched “whatever everyone watched” and they all decided that living well meant buying whatever 'everyone else was buying”. The age of advertizing was born, and sponsors and content providers made a lot of money, especially Madison Avenue. Everything seemed great...
...for a while.
Then, The Internet became public and popular. People used it the same way they had television for a while, then there was a great big valuation bubble for “dot com” companies that burst. When that was over, people calmed down a little, and started getting serious about what could be done with this tool.
You see, folks realized that they didn't have to just be passive users of the medium, they could be active content creators and communicators within it. They could talk, and listen to one another, in a very real way. In fact, it was much the same way that they had all those years before, when they had walked through the streets of their neighborhood and spoke with friends about what was happening, what could be bought or sold, and what was a bargain, or not.
Though now they did so through the electronic neighborhood, speaking with friends on Facebook, Followers on Twitter, networks on LinkedIn, and in their circles of influence on Google+. If the local butcher sells a bad piece of meat, someone is shortchanged, they don't like your environmental practices, or how you treat your employees, well then, they'll just tell their friends.
This is the return of real, live, word-of-mouth. Literally, if people use the podcasting or video upload options available on these sites.
They will also talk to you through these mediums. This makes your conversation with them public and part of the electronic dialog. Not engaging with them this way also says something about you: silence means that you are unresponsive, Fair or not, this is how you are perceived, and in this case, Madison Avenue had it right: perception IS reality.
So, what is the future of marketing? Considering how easy it is for the average person to share both positive and negative feedback with thousands of people at a time, my guess is that the future or marketing looks to be based on that one, simple concept.
The Golden Rule: treat others the way that you want to be treated.
Yes, it is that simple. As many others have pointed out, it's not easy, perhaps, but simple.
Treat people well, give them good products that they like, and make it easy for them to say good things about you. Give them an unbelievable customer experience, based on empathy, honesty, and care, and they will tell their friends.
Do the opposite, and they will tell them that also.
I the short term, you may be able to spend large amounts of money on advertising and public relations. A good spin doctor or slick TV campaign may be able to help you a bit...for now.
But it won't last forever. It may even backfire, as it did for BP when they spent 50 Million dollars on advertising after the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010. The reaction of many on social media and chat boards? “If they 50 Million to spend, why buy advertising? Why not use that money to help people and clean up the mess they caused?”
A good question, and many, many people asked it. And through these tools, it got the attention of the mainstream media, and considerably more negative PR than the advertising could have bought.
So now you have it, the future of marketing, and you didn't have to spend 50 thousand on a high octane MBA. You just had to be reminded of something you mother told you all those years ago, to clean up your own messes and treat people the way you want to be treated.
Better go thank her.
Guest post by JG. The opinions and views expressed within these articles are the opinions of the designated authors and do not reflect the opinions or views of Inbound Marketing Agents, LLC, any of our affiliates, associated companies or individuals.