Mad Men winning a coveted Emmy (yet again) for best television drama, New York's "Advertising Week," a five day celebration of the advertising industry, officially kicked off. In surveying the program content, one can quickly detect the significant changes and groundshifts in this industry, from digital transformation to social media strategy to the proliferation (and necessity) of service-grounded iPhone Apps. Even the website for the event reflects a new world order in communication -- what with "sharing" utilities, digital media kits, mobile "utility" downloads, and the like. It's a far cry from what my father, Bill Blackshaw -- one of the the orginal Mad Men -- experienced.
Still, the ad community remains challenged (if not overwhelmed) by the new rules and dynamics of consumer control. Of course social media is an "opportunity," but it's also a cross-current that threatens to dilute messaging and desired impact, or even put distrust on viral steroids. Indeed, consumers have greater leverage to "advertise" their attitudes toward brands, and a significant percentage of them remain highly guarded and skeptical. Marketers need to focus -- nay, obsess -- with how to renew, re-invigorate, or perhaps even redefine the trust covenant between consumer and brand.
Importantly, we need to keep asking: are we just selling or are we serving the needs of consumers? Are we branding or bonding? Are we embarking upon what Bob Gilbreath, CMO of BridgeWorldwide and a fellow P&G alum, refers to in his forthcoming book as "Meaningful Marketing?" (He defines meaningful marketing as the 'marketing itself add[ing] value to peoples’ lives.' ) Or are we all, as Bob Garfield implies (not so subtly) in his provocative, arguably must-read book, The Chaos Scenario, just toast. I'm actually convinced there's a world of potential for marketing and advertising, but we need to reset many of our core assumptions and operating principles. I'm equally convinced that this unprecedented bubbling of consumer conversation (from online communities to Twitter) is a well-spring of free and thoughtful advice to marketers about which roads and direction to take to secure the long term loyalty and advocacy of consumers. But we first need to check or respective agenda at the door, and tune in to what the conversation is telling us. Listen first, then engage!
Toward that end, I thought I'd "prime the pump" a wee bit. A little over a year ago, around the time I published my book "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000", I started writing a column for Advertising Age magazine (mostly online) on a range of topics related to future trends in advertising, the relationship between service and marketing, and the broader impact of social media. I just skimmed my content archive and pulled ten columns that might serve as a useful "primer" going into Advertising Week. These are themes and topics that are especially meaningful to me, but I suspect they might resonate with others. As always, I welcome feedback.
Earned Media May Be Efficient But It's Far from Free: Getting the full divident of "earned media" requires much more that setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts. Meaningful product and operational investment (e.g. customer service) pay the biggest dividends.
'Social Media Dad' Sees an iPhone-Powered New World Order: It took a birthday party for my twins to help me appreciate the power and impact of the "all in one" service device.
Is Customer Service a Media Channel: Ask Zappos: Zappos built a model Amazon ultimately acquired on an almost fanatical belief in the power of word-of-mouth, employee advocacy, and "no questions asked" service (all all kinds).
It's Time for a Slow Marketing Movement: Is social media pushing us into the "exuberance" zone? Maybe we need to slow down and revisit some of the fundamentals before we lunge forward.
Marketers Love a Conversation Unless the Consumer Starts It: Why are brand feedback interfaces (e.g. Contact Us) so ugly, uninviting, and at complete odds with all marketing exhuberance over the "conversational" aspects of social media.
In Time of Crisis, Sexy and Flashy Don't Count: When Swine Flu broke, government agencies, especially the CDC, got it right. Speed, functionality, and answers converged quickly. We can learn from this.
Is the Future of Marketing About Marketing to Marketers? We need to sift marketer from consumer conversation, and many of the biggest brand brohaha's of the year have been triggered by tens of thousands of "marketers" who use social media. New influencer channel?
When Calculating Twitter's ROI, Don't Ignore Its Change on Organizations: Remember, social media is as much about business process innovation (especially driving internal cultural change) as marketing outreach.
Underwriting Your Super Bowl Spot: You just can't think about TV the same anymore. Much of the value in TV advertising comes through the "multiplier effect" across digital expression venues, and the digital trail. How do we think holistically about TV?
The "Contribution Revolution" is More Important Than You Think: Social media isn't just about messaging and advocacy; it's also about the tangible economic impact (potentially cost savings) of "user-contribution systems," whereby the most loyal customers become a de facto work-force.
Spanish Language Content Surprisingly Lacking on the Web: Marketers talk up a storm about the importance of Hispanic/Latino marketing (lots of it on the agenda for Ad Week) but it's hardly reflected on websites or social media strategies.
- Pete (Twitter)