7 Ways That Marketing Has Changed

During the last ten years, a shift has occurred in the business community about the role that marketing plays. You can see it everywhere in classrooms, on blogs and in corporate America. It pops up in eBooks, podcasts and in the way brands are marketing to us selling soap or soup. 

These changes still confuse many people who don’t quite understand the transitions or who are holding on to the past. The following list describes these seven shifts and is meant to bring some clarity to this new dynamic evolution.

#1 Marketing is about building communities. The past was about reaching large masses of potential targets. Today it is about small, well-defined targets. Seth Godin calls it reaching your tribe. I like to think of it as a community of common interest.  This is a place where people with similar needs, ideas and inspiration can have regular and frequent meaningful conversations. Marketing is in the architecture business to construct these spaces in the real world and online. 

#2 Marketing is about being a magnet drawing people toward you and your business. The past was about pushing out a message, over and over and over again. Today, your business has to be bringing people toward you with relevant content and valuable information. If not, then you will be losing ground to the competition that is on the same mission. Are you effectively using rich and thought-provoking ideas with a force field and powerful pull toward you? Marketing is about energy and magnetic pull.  

#3 Marketing is about planting seeds to allow the commercial teams to harvest in the future. The past was about harvesting sales now. ABC (always be selling). Today, it is clear that we need to be investing, nurturing and fertilizing the landscape. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second best time is today. Of course, you have to be active nourishing the plants you hope to harvest in the future and now is the time to be doing it. Seed the future. Marketing is about farming. 

#4 Marketing is about providing value, information and education that enables potential clients and customers to see you as a long-term partner, not as someone trying to make a one-time sale. The past was all about the deal. Today’s marketing professional understand the role that partnership marketing plays in scaffolding relationships. If I can piggyback on the equity of a partner, she can assist me in bringing added value to relationships. In turn, I owe them (or others) this same partnership. How much time do you invest in relationships? Marketing is about social friendships. 

#5 Marketing is about providing a surprise, a “wow” and an attitude of appreciation to differentiate a company culture and personality. We all love a fortune cookie that has an especially personal message inside. Marketing is about those moments when we think, wow, I never expected that, from my ____________ (fill in the blank, shoe repair guy, doctor, web search agency, financial planner, airline agent, car repair shop owner,etc.), Wow is under appreciated to shift perception and reinforce new ideas and themes. Marketing is about magic shows filled with awe. 

#6 Marketing is not advertising, so it isn’t about pushing a message all over the place. Marketing should be more nuanced and subtle. The past was filled with advertising that is an old school approach to building awareness and pushing your message onto millions who mostly don’t care. Marketing today, takes many forms like the 5,323 women who are thinking about buying red sexy boots and go onto Google and search for those keywords. When a link in an ad pops up, they are enticed to see if that road leads them to the red sexy boots of their dreams. Marketing is about highly focused targeting efforts. 

#7 Marketing has a new anthem around transparency. It is okay not to be perfect when you are on a journey toward improvement. Potential customers appreciate a genuine and human approach versus an artificial effort.   

To quote the brilliant philosopher, Popeye,

 "I am what I am". 

Being real, genuine and truthful shifts the old school marketing professional away from deception and towards honesty. Statements about imperfections only build credibility today, and marketers understand that people buy from people they trust, not from people who pretend to be perfect. Marketing is about being visible and clear. 

What else has changed in the marketing world? I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas in the comment section of this blog. 

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