1) Put yourself in the shoes of the customer.
It is all about them. Your brand is not your brand, it’s an image in the customers mind. They own it and you just have the ability to affect it with the right message, at the right time, and in the right context.
Next time you think that a 30 second pre-roll ad before 10 seconds of news content is a good way to influence behavior, stop and think about how you feel about it first.
2) Everything in marketing does not change every few years.
People have short memories.
The industry has this obsession that new technology changes everything. It does not. New technology and the way that people behave are opportunities to explore and take advantage of, but they are more tactical than people first consider.
If the internet has changed EVERYTHING, then why are pretty much all forms of advertising online based on extracting traditional media and putting it onto a computer screen? Banner ads are basically print ads in smaller spaces, pre-rolls are TV ads that are shorter, and website’s are based on the theory of brochure design.
It’s all based on the principles of interrupting an eyeball.
There are actually going to be some really amazing changes in advertising, but it’s not going to come from some campaign based on sending in clips of your swooshing your hair to “Iliketoswishmyhair.com”, or some spurious Twitter hashtag, or a QR code, it will come from portable computers knowing so much about us that they help us make decisions and automate parts of our life.
3) The product is the most important thing.
Marketing people like to affect what they can, but the ultimate truth is that your brand is what your brand does. For all the millions that are spent telling me that Brand X is the friendly hotel chain, it’s all forgotten immediately when I get a rude staff member. As product review sites continue to take off, it’s far more about what your service does, or what your product is like to use, than it is about what we want people to think about it. Branding can only set up a mindset that is giving people the benefit of the doubt, and open to messaging that you get when you participate in the product.
4) People overestimate the short term affect of innovation and underestimate the long term.
Everyone goes crazy when things like Twitter get valued at billions, Instagram reaches another x million people and a groovy new app gets launched. The reality is that we overestimate the implications of these things initially but the longer term evolution of such things is more profound than we expect.
Mobile advertising is a classic example. SMS ads, iAds, QR codes are irrelevant distractions on the journey to a place where mobile advertising will change advertising in more profound ways. Our phones will know where we are, who we are, what we like, what our credit card details are, where we are going, who we are meeting, what we’ve just done. They will become hyper-aware assistants that will use this context and information that comes to use from brands and companies to help us navigate the world. Branded utility will become vitally important to us.
5) People don’t actually know what they want.
Next time you test an ad or a concept, be open to the fact that people don’t know what is possible and what they want.
The famous quote: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” from Henry Ford is a classic example.
But focus on all disruptive marketers like Innocent Smoothies or Apple and you will see that those who make great products will find a way to make people want things they did not think they needed.
Social Media Marketing hasn’t completely taken over traditional marketing.
There is a whole new generation of marketers who are consumed with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. These people are obsessed with campaigns that get 50,000 likes, or that lead to 200% increases in twitter followers. The average person in the US does not care about QR codes, your App, or even “sharing stories” with your brands. They are still sitting around watching TV, checking Facebook, reading magazines, and ignoring your sponsored stories and your ads. But miraculously consumers still buy products that are featured on TV and in magazines.
Ultimately traditional marketing hasn’t disappeared altogether. Pushing a message in a variety of ways that combine inbound and outbound marketing allows the most brand exposure.