If you’re online at all these days, you probably hear a lot about Web Marketing as the counter to the latest engaging tools of technology.
Here are five characteristics of Marketing:
First, it is interactive.
No longer are we forced to sit on the couch and take our daily dose of advertising. We now can jump on the television (or computer) and change the color of the background, choose what pose the personality takes, and tell them how we like to get our messages. More or less.
Take YouTube, for example.
What started out as a way for teenagers to post inane videos of skateboarding falls has turned into the single biggest factor affecting media today. Yes, there are still the “idiot videos,” but now they’re mixed in with product spoofs, commercials that are actually interesting, and now even political debates. What used to be solely for the tech-savvy consumer is now being wooed by major players like CNN.
YouTube works because it is interactive.
Once you view a video you can share it with friends. That’s how something like a silly Transformers rap has been viewed over 510,000 times!
Marketing is a conversation between consumers and companies.
Since we have all but removed commercials from our television viewing repertoire thanks to Tivo, companies have to find new ways to reach their audience. That means they have to ask consumers what they want. They’re listening for once!
Blogs and forums allow companies to take off their professional mask and get comfortable with their customers. It gives a comfortable, informal voice to the company. Take the Apple Blog. Readers can get updates on Apple products as well as comment on posts. They’re in essence creating a dialog that hasn’t previously been available.
Democracy is what Marketing is all about.
If the public doesn’t like it, it won’t float. Or will it? Sometimes there is a public outcry so loud you can hear it from cyberspace. A few months ago, an illegal HD DVD encryption code was posted online. Bloggers found the code and spread it like wildfire, using, among others, Digg as a tool to spread it. The problem? HD DVD is one of Digg’s sponsors, so the founder of Digg received a cease and desist order from the company.
The original post was removed, but it was like pulling a leg off a centipede. The code continued to spread. Eventually the founder had to throw his hands up, knowing that democratic media had gotten the best of the situation.
Marketing efforts are always non-traditional.
There are no rules. This is good in that any business can devise a new method of marketing, but bad because nothing is guaranteed.
Here’s an example of Marketing gone awry: at the beginning of 2007, Cartoon Network launched a marketing campaign for its show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” in Boston. The campaign involved the placement throughout the city of several lightboards with cartoon characters on them. Someone cried “terrorism!” and the project was shut down. Hard. With police action. The situation might have been an overreaction, but the head of Cartoon Network resigned as a result. Not every idea is a good idea.
Finally, Marketing is flexible.
If you’re used to booking year long phone book ads, this is the complete opposite. Any marketing tool can be changed or stopped relatively easily, and the majority of Marketing is affordable (blogs, for example, are free). Creating a strong marketing mix will involve hits and misses, so it is important that you be able to change your marketing plan on a dime.
Now that you understand Marketing, how will you use it? The longer you take to shift gears from “old school” marketing to Marketing, the more customers you will lose as a result. Take the plunge with me into the future of marketing.