Getting disruptive with marketing

by Martin Dower
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The old world marketing approach is well and truly dead; consumers’ behaviour has radically changed in the last 5 years.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

In summary. Stop whatever you are doing now. Take a step back and re-think it from scratch. Disruptive marketing is not so much a solution as a mindset. Most companies still tend to market through traditional means, which provides plenty of opportunities for organisations to disrupt the status quo.

The list of successful disruptors is long and distinguished. Apple did it with iTunes store, iPhone & iPad. Amazon broke the rules with everything from buying CDs to the provision of Internet Server Architecture. The whole social networking space grew up disruptive by providing a way for everyone to talk to everyone. The common element for all these companies is that they tried something that consumers desired and they did it in an easy-to-adopt manner.

Not all companies seem tuned to making the switch, just ask Kodak, which in less than 20 years went from the fourth most valuable brand worldwide to bankruptcy. Why? Because they weren’t prepared for customers to stop buying film and switch to digital photography. The market had been disrupted, and Kodak failed to adjust.

The rules have changed, risky is the new safe

The use of technology is the primary driver in this space, specifically the explosion of digital devices and services. The disruptors include:

The Mobile H-bomb. Web apps and the cloud is changing marketing more than all the other channels combined. Big Data won’t save the day, nor will proprietary shopping experiences. Consumers are coming out on top with price comparison, reviews and community. The transparency this creates is shaking the big boys foundations and “levelling” many brand values.

Tablets replacing PCs. It started already and the PC is now dead and it’s natural successor is a device that is only 3 years old. This is where the big boys are scrapping hard – in fact it’s the only market segment where you see Amazon, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft and Google competing head-to-action.

Virtual Shopping. Driven by mobile devices, QR codes, online shopping, comparison sites and click-and-collect. The high street will never be the same again and much of the traditional retailers will have to evolve or die.

Death of TV. Netflix, Lovefilm, iTunes, BBC iPlayer, Virgin, YouView, BlinkBox and Youtube – do you expect to be watching conventional TV in 5 years? Streaming multi-media content is now the norm and so much more flexible; it also offers new advertising and promotional opportunities as the old-fashioned “ad break” says good night. This fight has only just started but promises to be one of the big scraps over the next decade.

Decline of the “productionised-office model. Outsourcing, crowd-funding, collaboration, freelancing, micro-consulting, agile, smaller, release early and often – and throw away, trial and error, short-term contracts, flexible working, BYOD. As the workplace changes so does the behaviour of people.

A less social world. Irate customers exposing the failing of brands is just the first step, communities are starting to band-together and drive brands in the direction they want to go. Politely called crowdsourcing, the real effect is that consumers gain the upper-hand so you’d better be listening. Savvy companies will learn how to better use social media to connect with their tribes and meet their needs.

Digital money, mobile wallets & micro-payments. How much, when and why we pay for stuff is changing and will eventually replace credit cards, debit cards, currencies, and even banks. The collapse of the banks in 2008 and their subsequent bailing out was, with hindsight, the start of the end. Banks and bankers are no longer to be trusted – we’re wide open to embrace new paradigms.

The first steps to success?

  • Focus on your consumers. Understand what they want, when, how and where. You can try focus groups, ambassadors, opinion, surveys and encourage collaboration and feedback.
  • Start learning, stop grafting so hard to make last years plan work. Think long and hard about what you should be doing. Be brave, take risks
  • Brands no longer control the media, consumers do. Listen and engage in the open space, forget clever spy tools that claim to manage your brand in the social space, focus on authenticity and avoid a single “PR-centric” mouth piece.
  • Humanise your brand. Folks buy from folks so make it simple and personal and consumers will feel less “sold to” and more “I’m buying”. Invest in your people and liberate them to contribute to the marketing conversation.
  • Smarter, faster, simpler. Brain not brawn. Simple is easier to understand and communicate. Faster yields results quicker
  • Test and test again. Try new stuff, continually. In this new world there are few rules so make them up as you go along, keep testing new ideas against what you do now until the new ideas are better. Rinse and repeat.

About Connected

We’ve been disrupting marketing and digital platforms for over 15 years and built our reputation on being pretty good at predicting which technology and approach will win. Talk to us about your digital marketing needs and we promise we’ll give you something to think about, and maybe a wry smile here and there.