It isn't clear yet whether technology has completely revolutionized marketing and branding or if it is still simply a new set of tools gradually reshaping those worlds.
What is absolutely clear, however, is that traditional marketing is dying.
Better informed customers are optimizing their purchases by comparison shopping via mobile devices, doing online research, and gathering recommendations from their social networks. They won't tolerate the inefficient and costly shotgun approach of mass marketing.
We appreciate that the increased speed of communications and access to product information in the information age makes it harder for messages to reach the target audience. But as more experts are beginning to understand, technology has better connected members of target audiences to each other.
They are communities now, built around brands that give them what they want but not exclusively, or even predominantly, influenced by the marketing messages of those brands. “Brand activists” matter more, and the key to marketing success today is engaging them and empowering them with tools to promote their favorite products and services.
People do that every day in some way – with friends, family, and co-workers – without ever being asked, let alone encouraged, to lend their endorsements. They are more than consumers; they are a sales force waiting to be activated. All companies have to do is ask.
When you consider that 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, brand activists are the tip of the spear for marketers. Effectively reaching, engaging, and empowering them to spread messages gives brands not only a wider audience but deeper resonance.
Brands might wonder why they should focus time and resources on reaching an audience that already is buying their products or services.
Why should they spend time preaching to the choir? The answer: that's how you get the choir to sing.
David All is president of the David All Group.