Crack in the Rear View Mirror

The consumer today is so far ahead of marketers that we need to pole vault to catch up.  The way in which consumers live their lives and the way in which we work as marketers is disconnected.  Consumers' lives are hectic and challenging each day, and consumers quickly change to meet the oncoming challenges.  The current economic situation highlights their ability to change quickly.  Consumers are earning less money and spending it very differently, thus changing their lifestyles.  Maybe the rich continue to live in the old world, but the new world economy has consumers living much more thoughtfully about their buying decisions. Yet as professional marketers, we cross some invisible line when we get to work each day and attempt to hold on to the past.  Or at best we attempt to integrate the past with tactical shifts to how we market our products and services.  The world has shifted dramatically and marketing has to leap frog into the new world.  We need to stop thinking and doing through the rearview mirror.

No longer can we see digital as one of the tools in our marketing portfolio.  No longer can we develop marketing programs that integrate a digital component into the plan.  Digital is no longer a tactic.  Digital is a strategy.  It must be at the core of a brand's efforts to influence its customer.  This New York Times story is a snap shot of how the world has flipped.  No longer are we one-on-one with a customer, we are now influencing customers who are webbed to others, and that webbing just expands.

If your marketing plan doesn't look like a spider's web, you are living in the old world.  A marketing world that reflected the spikes of a wheel - and it's gone, broken, finished, dead.

Digital is the heart and the brain of marketing today.  Just look at our day-to-day lives.  Whether we see the digital core as consumers is irrelevant.  We don't see our own heart or our brain, but they are the drive for our existence.  And just like our body functions based on our heart and brain, the marketing world today thrives from the often unseen digital heart and brain.

Television news today is an example of the world turning upside down.  The networks and cable used to be at the core of news, but not any more.  Today our news is one element of the spider's web.  What starts as a story somewhere in the world is first introduced through a blog or tweet or a website posting, which is then picked up by television.  A new restaurant opens and the positive and negative reviews are spread through the digital world.  A new product is introduced and those that are passionate about either the brand or the category, first go to friends to learn more, then to the internet.  And that first stop with friends - where did their information come from?

Digital is no longer a tactic, it is no longer just banner ads, or a website, or twitter.  It is all these things, plus packaging, television, etc., integrated into a program that use digital at the core to influence customers to take action.

We marketers have to stop living through the rearview mirror.