Friday, August 18th, 2017

New technologies changes the way we do business

Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010

By PAULA MacVITTIE
CEO, Caldwell VanRiper

This is true for technology services, such as Twitter, Four Square, or Groupon as well as technology platforms like smart phones, iPads and gaming devices hooked to the web. It is impossible to keep up with the speed of change and it can be overwhelming for people who are responsible for marketing their company’s brand or service. How do they talk to their current or potential customers if the playing field keeps changing?

This challenge is not new. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, marketers complained about all of the new cable channels that further fragmented their target audiences and made their job more difficult. After Y2K, marketers were challenged by the introduction of web portals, such as AOL, AltaVista and Yahoo as they fought to capture as many web surfers as possible (no one had yet heard of “Google”). Today, in the era of self publishing with blogs and other social media, there are no less than 100 million websites with unique domains and content—a number that is growing exponentially.

In 1910, Daniel T. Starch, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, noted in his book, The Principles of Advertising, that reading habits have changed due to the increased number of magazines and newspapers published today. Hence more rapid reading and skimming make it harder for an ad to secure attention. So marketers have faced the challenge of rapidly evolving media habits for over a century.

The good news for marketers is that the fundamentals of how we build a brand have not changed even if the way we communicate our brand has. Professor Starch wrote over 100 years ago that the key to successful branding was twofold: first secure attention, then secure persuasion and action. It is not any different today.

The strategies you should employ to create your brand and align it with your business strategies are fairly well documented. Every marketing agency has its own trademarked process, but the components are very similar. The first step is understanding the customer’s needs, the brand’s gaps and opportunities as well as the competition’s. The next step is to create a positioning statement that focuses on your brand’s key point of difference, a target consumer and how your brand can fulfill the consumer’s needs. From there, you can create the brand identity and bring the positioning to life so that you can communicate it to the right people, at the right time and in the right context. This is point in the process where the overwhelming rise of technology can seem daunting to marketers.

Successful marketers need to be channel agnostic and find the right levers for their target audience. In the past, marketing and advertising was created in a linear fashion, with a large concept created primarily for television, and then “taken down” for print, direct mail, point of sale or other mediums. Today, marketers must understand the different spheres of influence that impact our target audience before we create the communications plan. There may not be any advertising at all. It may be that peer influence through blogs or case studies is more impactful that print ads. Or it may be a news article or a local meeting that resulted from a media outreach campaign that created “attention and secured persuasion and action” by your target audience. For a few brands, the most relevant context would be to use the newest medium or device possible to establish a leadership or cutting edge position. Most often, it is a combination of several communication platforms that create enough exposure and influence to reach your marketing objectives.

The other challenge for marketers driven by new technology is the size of the space with which they must grab an audience’s attention. Messages that once were created for billboards and the big screen now are ads that are only a hundred pixels wide on a mobile phone. This is where employing a great marketing firm can make the difference. It can be critical to translating your brand message effectively across all mediums and make it relevant to the context in which it appears.

The way we communicate with others will continue to change. There will always be new ways of connecting to people and new devices to make those connections happen. That change is inevitable. But if you stick to the fundamentals of understanding your target audience, its needs and how it can be influenced, then you can cut through the complexity of all new forms of communication and focus on the methods that will be most beneficial for your brand.