Friday, June 6, 2008

Place your bets!

It’s good to feel threatened and anxious at times. I was reading the latest Strategy magazine in the subway today and all of these up and coming ad-types are featured. Junior creative directors, interactive strategists, ‘visioners’, etc.

I’m not going to say it put the fear of God into me, but it caused me to think hard about how I will craft a career for myself and acquire the building blocks that I’ll need to get there. It made me consider my role in marketing ten years from now and the strategy that will get me there.

Ten years from now, marketing will be more conversation-oriented. Technology and data sophistication already enables marketers to speak one on one with prospects and acknowledge each person’s unique complement of values, motivations, and aversions. Tony Chapman comments that advertising “has gone from mass to my”, underscoring the important shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach to a more communicative, interpersonal style. This isn’t news to marketers, and it certainly isn’t that groundbreaking if explained to consumers (who, if prompted, would assert that their minds are free from suggestion and that they’re not swayed by mal-intentioned marketers!).

But what about twenty years from now?

In one generation, will marketing be represented by a new ideology and paradigm? If mass becomes conversation, what will the consumer evolve into?

The Nihilist

“I am a nihilist. Just as Raskolnikov, in Crime and Punishment, cast aside socially imposed moral norms and justified the murder of two old women on a purely materialistic and utilitarian basis, so will consumers reject marketers' attempt to attach emotional and moral values to products, Consumers will only purchase on the basis of their physical needs. For marketers, this grim future may imply a total rejection by me, the consumer, of all slogans, brands, promos, messages, and offers because it’s just not wanted anymore. As a consumer, I make my own decisions and I have become acutely sensitive to both shills and subtlety in ads. Brands will cease to have power over my buying habits because I feel that by rejecting brands and being unresponsive to marketing, I’m acting rationally and achieving a practical, consumerism Nirvana.”

The Concerned Global Citizen

“I am a concerned global citizen. More and more pressure is being felt by companies to adopt sustainable business practices and a 3Ps bottom line. Marketers recognize my progressive concern and provide realistic, measurable incentives that allow me to feel that through purchasing, I have made a difference. A passive difference. I respond only to marketing executed using solar-powered servers and recycled rice paper printed with soy-based ink. I respond to messages that are meaningful to me and which have incentive models set up for consumers to respond because more trees will be planted for each time that I clickthrough on the company’s e-newsletter.”

The Whore

I am a whore. I’ll sell you my data if you give me your content/access/product/service for free. Why should I pay for mobile phone service? Can’t Rogers figure out a media model to allow me to use my phone for free whenever I want and all that I get is a few really relevant marketing messages on my phone from companies that I buy from anyway? Wouldn’t it be cool to surf the internet and download as many gigabytes as you want for free without sacrificing speed or service and all that happened was that my name gets added to a list that companies can purchase if they want to access web-savvy Millenials?”

So as I read Strategy on the subway, as anxious as I felt to launch my career and start competing with other junior marketers for a ticket to the Cannes Lion Advertising Awards, I felt emboldened by the sense that I am riding a wave of emerging technology and communication that has allowed “marketing” to take forms previously never imagined. Who would have anticipated the role that social media or Google searches play in our lives?

No matter what archetype the consumer evolves into, conversation marketing will still be appropriate to convey relevance, value, and uniqueness to each consumer.

1 comment:

Ana said...

The Crime & Punishment analogy was far-fetched, but you were spot-on with the whore.