Marketing Communications and the Future (a view)

For readers, the following thought has been drafted to help with a discussion on the Marketing Communications of the future

I tried to break this down into the simple components of the Marketing Communications function. Essentially the Message encode-decode bit and then overlaid what has been happening in the enabler world and the customer world.

To set a scene let’s go to a future +25 years out from now and I will give my personal predictions of things that may come through as scenario’s. Who knows what technology will be available and prevalent, but we might be able to picture the day-in-the-life of the Marketer and the Consumer, as well as everyone else involved in the loop.

25 years ago, which was only 1989, I was using a portable Apricot computer on a dial up modem, with a corporate email service and limited applications such as Wordperfect and Lotus 123 spreadsheets. I had a Mobile Phone, but the engagement with Clients was minimal at a technology level. It was very much a ‘print and post’. The process of communication was well known and used and target marketing understood, even though it was heavily dependent upon Inbound and Outbound telephone marketing, all sorts of mail shots and the usual Customer events. B2B and B2C Marketing Comms was developing at that stage to understand what the Customer wanted and evolving the alternative routes for them to create the relationship that we wanted. Above-the-line advertising was in its prime but mainly for B2C and seldom B2B unless you were a very big player.

Today, we have more targeting around the profile of the Customer, with the complexity of re-distributable material that can enhance your access to the base, but with an added challenge that you need to control messages which can be virally uncontrollable. So, the ‘today’ take out for me is that we haven’t yet learned how to master the tools that we have in use and the Consumer is getting more savvy than they were. We are data rich on both sides of the Seller-Buyer equation. However, in relative terms we are still information poor…but aspiring.

So, 25 years on, which will feel like 50 years of advancement, we have an opportunity and a challenge. I am comfortable with technology and especially the impact it will make on consumers, but I am also a pragmatist. I think that advances in the coordinated application of technology features will allow Marketers to open up new forms of communication with the ‘market’ than ever before. Marketers should be prepared for change.

Social Media has to settle into a pattern with the Consumer but the options available for interfacing with them will multiply, merge, then multiply again. Hopefully, with more Open platforms, using multiple tools will allow you to see the Consumer and Market dynamics, but the Consumer will be able to see the options too. Open platforms will also calm the big player-one method approach and inspire innovation and collaboration. Technology will create the Marketing Communications toolkit.

Here are some of the traits that I believe (just my thoughts!) you will see in the Consumer, Markets and Suppliers with which you will have to grapple.

  • Small Screen versus Big Screen versus Screen on demand (The latter being my bet for handling the new complex consumer). Mobility will still have its part, but don’t just think of Mobility being small device.
  • Pinpoint narrowcast profiling versus Viral broadcast
  • Knowledgeable Consumers
  • Immediacy of transactions and how the Profile wants to transact
  • Increased Collaboration to live your life and high levels of independence
  • Decentralisation of where people live and more reliance on Screen-based technologies.
  • Consumers creating their own marketing opportunities
  • Consumers as Advertisers of their own content
  • 3D printing conceptual information and holography
  • Consumers will want to ‘Find’ an answer on demand, not ‘Search’, but we should expect this to be automated
  • Consumers lives will be more chaotic, so will need convenience providers to help them trade ‘time’ for money or favours
  • Applications will be more Consumer-centric rather than Consumers being driven to SM alters. Consumer will want to have ‘My Life’ on a screen which will help them coordinate their lives.
  • Big Data will be transparent, but Big Information will be the focus for Consumers.
  • Be prepared to pay-per-view the Consumer directly to listen to your Marketing Communications as a shared model with the Tool provider. A new ecosystem will evolve.
  • Attention span will be less, but there will be a rapid Judge and Execution
  • Consumers own Video’s will be routes/channels for your Marketing Communications and tools will become available to make that happen
  • Consumer profiles will be Real-time, but only if they want you to see it (intense Privacy laws)
  • Consumers will use SaaS to build their life style tools.
  • Consumers will demand/expect very high Content quality and highly intuitive.

To sum up, as Marketing Principles go, it’s a Consumer or a Customer and you will have a Product and a Message. Your opportunities will increase to create and maintain a buying relationship, but be prepared to be part of the Customers life cycle, one by one.

About David Dugdale
Business Transformation Consultant

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