Marketing today is about strategy, technology and communication but it wasn’t the same when it all began. As an important business practice, it is considered to stem from the root activity of sales, but today it is so much more than that. Marketing today has evolved from a one-track communication process to become a creative way to appeal to the target audiences of the brand.
Mass media’s contributions to marketing.
Marketing was quite a simple process in the pre-media era. You had to set up shop and talk about it. The relationships formed by the businesses with their customer and patron were genuine and thus long-lasting. Although word of mouth has been an effective way to market, when traditional media such as print media entered the market, they helped businesses reach new heights as they not only reached the masses easily but were a big source of entertainment. While few, the businesses with the foresight and funds, saw the opportunity to stand out among the already growing competition saw tremendous growth. They effectively became the success stories and testimonials of the effects of mass media on the market. These businesses were essentially also the first ones to become “brands”.
Consumers could easily differentiate these ‘brands’ from the rest by the mode of design, communication, and approach, all of which today are integral parts of marketing. And with the evolution of media and the people, the evolution of marketing too happened parallelly. It became more and more dynamic with changing times, suiting to the growing needs of brands.
Internet’s role in mass media.
With a move into mass media communication, a huge change in brand perception was seen, essentially formulating the nature of interactions brands. An identical feat repeated itself with the internet 2 decades ago. With a medium that was placed right in the houses of the audience, and the ability to adapt dynamically to responses, the internet was at the root a huge digital revolution. It arose not just as a medium of communication and entertainment but became pivotal in becoming a successful marketing platform. The internet also came with the convenience of use, at first inside your homes with computers and later, in your palms with the introduction of smartphones. The internet became a tool at the disposal of brands and consumers alike to build an experience, and not just a line of communication. Internet’s invention handed the power into its audience’s hand, be it for information, entertainment or purchase. The audience became the decision-makers of what, when and where they want to consume information & media.
With so much information on every subject under the roof, the demographics of brands' target audiences changed. They were no longer selling to people who had no clue about the product. They are no communicating with informed people, that are heavily involved in purchase decisions. Creating a whole new generation of Internet’s savvy consumers, and build new avenues for brands to conquer.
Starting as just another platform, in the likes of other mass media instruments, the internet saw marketing practices similar to the other mediums. A similar approach in psychology was used, and a similar line of communication was maintained. And while we're figuring out the best practices on the internet, it reached into the pockets of people, with the help of smartphones. And smartphones were game-changers for both brands and consumers since they offered packets of easy to access entertainment to the consumers and a new plane of marketing to the brands. For example, the simple activity of finding the nearest fuel station or a bank could be done within seconds and that too without any human interaction.
In light of such developments in the area of communication, businesses have grown competitive, push brands and businesses to create new and evolving marketing strategies that differentiate themselves. Google LLC, the largest internet-based business out there, and also the most popular search engine operators, speak about a certain new aspect of marketing. Micro-moments. These as described by Google are intent specific movements when a consumer turns to a device reflexively, with intent to conduct an action. It could be a want-to-go moment, a want-to-do moment or even a want-to-buy moment. But at that moment the user is full of intent and thus is the ideal audience for any brand. Google with its research to back its claims, states that this is a moment in the consumer journey of an individual where even a nudge in the right direction can prove phenomenal towards a brand's marketing efforts. Thus building the next step towards a fortified marketing plan, with optimized results.
As consumers today grow in global & local awareness alike, tactics that worked out well just a few months ago might fail today. The Internet paced up the market’s evolution, the way consumers interact and the way businesses cope. Upfront selling isn’t that effective any more in urban setups. The time a consumer sees through a marketing plan/tactic, they start detaching themselves from the company.
With the internet as a dynamic tool available to all, practices that work the best today may become outdated in the duration of a few months. Tactics and ideas that seemed to work earlier may not perform at all, and this is due to the internet and its audiences constantly evolving. Populated with an evolving, dynamic audience, marketing on the internet continuously is nothing short of a challenge for brands today. Over and above consumers today don’t want to be sold anything, so direct marketing, one of the most sale driving modes, does not perform well here. Increased awareness has led to the consumers looking to make all their decisions on their own, with cues received from various channels. The consumers today prefer to have several choices to choose from, but also do not entertain efforts of direct marketing. In fact, direct marketing now harms the brand’s identity in the consumer’s head.
As masters of the trade, brands must understand that platforms and specifically the internet would keep evolving, but the root behind these mediums is always going to be entertainment. The day the next best entertaining platform comes up, that’s where brands have to advertise. And an audience will be available to any medium that entertains. Which is why, marketing is not a field of ‘industry leaders’, but a field of industry followers.