How marketing is reborn in the digital age

In 1954, legendary management guru Peter Drucker said that because the purpose of a business is to create a customer, marketing was one of only two basic functions of an organization, along with innovation. For more than half a century after that, marketing had to walk a long, difficult and marginal road.

Most business owners did not accept that creating customers was the purpose of a business. They viewed marketing as a cost center, with hard-to-justify costs and hard-to-measure intangible benefits. Marketing was seen as an expense, not an investment. Marketing came to be seen as a means of selling with interrupted, repetitive, and boring advertisements that attempted to coerce customers into submission. The results were gradual at best. As a result, marketing managers had the shortest tenure in C-suite.

Yet there is now good news. Although the initial impact of digital technology on marketing was simply to increase the amount of disruptive and annoying advertisements, Jeff Rosenblum in his new book Exponential: Transform your brand by empowering instead of interrupting (McGraw Hill, January 2022) explains why marketing is experiencing something of a renaissance and is helping to create exponential benefits, not just incremental gains in sales.

Why Change in Marketing is Now Happening

“Advertising,” says Rosenblum, “moves from technology-powered messaging that interrupts the consumer journey to data – connected content that accompanies people through the consumer journey.”

“Some brands,” writes Rosenblum, “dominate the competition, while others, including many household names, fail. The fundamental difference between these two groups is how much they empower their customers.”

Six steps are particularly important to becoming an exponential brand.

1. Establish a clear, customer-focused goal for the business itself

It turns out that the marketing issues were less about the marketing itself and more about the business and how the C suite used marketing. The changes underway are closely linked to the transition from a vision of the purpose of the company as maximization of shareholder value to a logic of co-creation of value for customers. With the customer first in place, marketing can then play its own role in creating engaging content and meaningful experiences.

2. Adopt the right behavior and culture first

“Companies,” says Rosenblum, “come to see that in a naked world, they are completely exposed. Embracing transparency isn’t as simple as eliminating bad behavior. Nor is it to signal virtue on the latest hot topic. “This is a fundamental change in business behavior. Advertising still has an important role. But companies need to focus on purpose, behavior and culture first before focusing on external messaging. The brands that know this and act on it are the ones that achieve exponential growth.

3. Create content that walks people through the consumer journey.

It’s about removing friction, understanding clients’ emotional and functional needs every step of the way, and moving clients toward their goals. Brands that use this approach to improve the lives of their customers are then “able to build an army of evangelists who deliver their brand messages more effectively than traditional advertising.”

4. Show how the company improves the lives of customers

The new kind of ad, says Rosenblum, “doesn’t have to be a Patagonian-inspired public service initiative promising to save the world. While these efforts are considerable, most people don’t wake up in the morning expecting the marks to hug trees and save manatees. They just want their own life to improve, one small step at a time.

It can be about making life more fun and easy, convenient, cheaper or more meaningful. “The common thread between all of these exponential brands,” says Rosenblum, “is that they have found an authentic and valuable place in the lives of their customers.

5. Refocus messaging on immersive content

“Advertising is not dead,” says Rosenblum. “This fake eulogy has already been written. It just needs to be redefined to be about immersive content and experiences, not just interrupting messages. Disruptive advertising may be enough to get people into the sales funnel, but not through the sales funnel. This is why content empowerment is so essential.

6. Enable value co-creation for customers

The revolution “is not just about consumers having access to information. It is a change in the flow of information from asynchronous to synchronous. In the last century, communication was asynchronous, one-way. Brands created stories and audiences listened. »

Business communication is increasingly interactive, like any healthy relationship. “Consumers tell brands what they want, either explicitly through text, speech, or implicitly through their behavior. Exponential brands respond with optimized products, content, and experiences.”

And also read:

Why the key management problem is often at the top

Five Senior Management Guides to Customer Orientation