Moving From Traditional To Digital Marketing

Last week we looked at the pertinent elements at marketing in the digital age Today we are going to look at the shifts that have occurred with moving from Traditional to Digital Marketing.

As digital economy booms and smartphones become more ingrained in consumers’ lifestyles – deeply influencing their attitudes and behaviors – consumers will increasingly look for the perfect mix of tech that makes their lives easier, comple­ments their goals of self-actualization and nurtures a deeper sense of ‘doing good’. Marketers need to brace up for this transition and adaptation period in the run up to a fast-developing digital economy. They need novel marketing approaches, which would help them anticipate and leverage on these unprecedented disruptive innovations.

As we move from traditional to digital, market­ing has undergone fundamental transformation in the way its various elements are incorporated. Let’s take a look at the two most critical shifts:

Traditionally, marketing always starts with segmentation—a practice of dividing the market into homogenous groups based on their geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral profiles. Segmentation is typically followed by targeting—a practice of selecting one or more segments that a brand is committed to pursue based on their attractiveness and fit with the brand.

Segmentation and targeting are both fundamental aspects of a brand’s strategy. They allow for efficient resource allocation and sharper positioning. They also help marketers to serve multiple segments, each with differentiated offerings.

However, segmentation and targeting also exemplify the vertical relationship between a brand and its consumer, analogous to hunter and prey. Segmentation and targeting are unilateral decisions made by marketers without the consent of their consumers. Marketers determine the variables that define the segments. The involvement of consumers is limited to their inputs in market research, which usually precede segmentation and targeting exercises. Being “targets,” consumers often feel intruded upon and annoyed by irrelevant messages aimed toward them. Many consider one-way messages from brands to be spam.

In the digital economy, consumers are socially connected with one another in horizontal webs of communities. Today, communities are the new segments.

Unlike segments, communities are naturally formed by consumers within the boundaries that they themselves define. Consumer communities are immune to spamming and irrelevant advertising. In fact, they will reject a company’s attempt to force its way into these webs of relationship.

To effectively engage with a community of consumers, brands must ask for permission. Permission marketing, introduced by Seth Godin, revolves around this idea of asking for consumers’ consent prior to delivering marketing messages. However, when asking for permission, brands must act as friends with sincere desires to help, not hunters with bait. Similar to the mechanism on Facebook, consumers will have the decision to either “confirm” or “ignore” the friend requests. This demonstrates the horizontal relationship between brands and consumers. However, companies may continue to use segmentation, targeting, and positioning as long as it is made transparent to consumers.

In a traditional sense, a brand is a set of images—most often a name, a logo, and a tagline—that distinguishes a company’s product or service offering from its competitors’. It also serves as a reservoir that stores all the value generated by the company’s brand campaigns. In recent years, a brand has also become the representation of the overall consumer experience that a company delivers to its consumers. Therefore, a brand may serve as a platform for a company’s strategy since any activities that the company engages in will be associated with the brand.

The concept of brand is closely linked with brand positioning. Since the 1980s, brand positioning has been recognized as the battle for the consumer’s mind. To establish strong equity, a brand must have a clear and consistent positioning as well as an authentic set of differentiation to support the positioning. Brand positioning is essentially a compelling promise that marketers convey to win the consumers’ minds and hearts. To exhibit true brand integrity and win consumers’ trust, marketers must fulfill this promise with a solid and concrete differentiation through its marketing mix.

In the digital economy, consumers are now facilitated and empowered to evaluate and even scrutinize any company’s brand-positioning promise. With this transparency (due to the rise of social media) brands can no longer make false, unverifiable promises. Companies can position themselves as anything, but unless there is essentially a community-driven consensus the positioning amounts to nothing more than corporate posturing.

Today, consistently communicating brand identity and positioning in a repetitive manner—a key success factor in traditional marketing—may no longer be enough. With disruptive technologies, shorter product life cycles, and rapidly changing trends, a brand must be dynamic enough to behave in certain ways in certain situations. What should remain consistent, however, are the brand characters and codes. The character is the brand’s raison d’être, its authentic reason for being. When the core of the brand remains true to its roots, the outer imagery can be flexible. Think of it this way: by having countless logo adaptations—Google calls them doodles—MTV and Google remain solid yet flexible as brands.

Next week we are going to look at the shift of selling the 4P’s to commercializing the 4C’s.

CMO Perspective – Eric Liedtke: Adidas

International athletic brand Adidas took a fresh and innovative approach to digital marketing this April when they utilized the 30,000 runners of the Boston Marathon to create personalized videos of its participants to promote its latest running apparel.

A seamless mix of professionally produced user-generated content and emerging technologies (in the form of race bibs equipped with high-tech tracker chips), this campaign returned a host of rich visual content that offered a real-life glimpse into the buzz of the event, the reward of the challenge and unique running metrics that showcase each participant’s progress during their run. 

Speaking to Marketing Dive on the campaign, McGarry Bowen (the agency behind the campaign) explained, “We are going to start seeing more of these kinds of ideas that promote the brands while creating real, tangible value for consumers. LG and Adidas are both excellent examples of doing meaningful things for large crowds of people or what I like to call ‘thank you-worthy’ experiences.”

Result: This personal, emotive and immersive digital marketing campaign proved as innovative as it did head-turning, resulting in a collective 100,000 video views in the first two days following the race.

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