Involve me and I’ll understand – rethinking Marketing & Communication

All major Belgian brands and companies are present at UBA Trend Day in Brussels Today…but only a “hand full” off tweets. Normally this wouldn’t be something I would write as an opening sentence, but with +500 attendees (all “big shots” in marketing, advertising and communication) this only leverages my case: Rethinking Marketing & Communication is a true necessity to survive next years. “Your customers are in control, and you can’t control them” is the bottom line of today! So If you want to have impact on your customers, you need to get involved with them (through conversation, gamification,…). That’s the (only) way for your brand/company/product to start an engaging relationship with your (potential) customer!

When more than 500 advertising people and decision makers aren’t connecting or conversating online, I truly think  this branche has a problem. The old model, where the brand had control is switched to a model where consumer has control. If you’re not ready as a brand-builder, you’re missing the train, which has already left the station.

Martin Lindstrom (who gave a truly awesome presentation -if you get the chance to see him, DON’T hesitate!) gave insights on our irrational human behaviour. 85% of what we do is unconscious, so you need to build your brand around “smashables”  like the Marlboro red, or Coca Cola Shape, or the Apple icons….all these brands survive thanks to our subconscious attention of their brand characteristics!
Neurological research showed that our mind reacts differently on subliminal brand messages or smashables! (The Ferrari Red f.i. In relation with Marlboro, or the slide movement of Apple which every baby knows at the age of 2, or when in a blind test people like Pepsi better then Coca Cola, but when asked later in a regular they preferred Coca Cola over Pepsi). Our mind plays tricks with us, wether we like it or not!
And above that, our brain is changing thanks to the recent technological evolution. Multitasking still is a true myth, but where an average person can follow-up to 1,3 channels simultaneously, teens can follow-up to 1,4 (up from 1,3 10 years ago). All this available technologies have changed the way our brain works (especially those who grew up in this digital world). So true and sole attention is becoming an illusion, you will need to stand out as a brand/product to realy grab the customer’s attention. What better way to grab that attention when you’re getting involved with your customer with a honest dialogue or using gamification tactics, you need to get grip of your (potential) customer.

True power of word-of-mouth

Lindstrom did research on the true power of peers and word-of-mouth. Inspired by the movie “meet the Joneses” he started a similar project in Los Angeles where an average family “the morgensons” moved into the neighbourhood and started promoting product, brands and services. They truly influenced their neighbours, friends and family members getting them out as true brand ambassadors endorsing and buying the products they promoted. The more gossip was going on about a product or brand, the more positive reactions were measured! Word-of-mouth at work! You can watch the movie of The experiment here.
Looking into the fact of who influences who, it’s only 1 percent who influences the other 99%. So your focus should be on those 1% instead of the other groups. Tina Wells (Buzz Marketing Group) confirmed this story, sideways, by dividing the millennials into 4 categories: Preppies, Techies, Independents, alternatives. Where the small group(s) of Techies and Independents are the most interesting to watch regarding influence and trendsetting, but the money is where the Preppies are. thePreppies get your message out (but the preppies are influenced by the techies and the independents!) Again a small group influences the vast majority! How and why….that’s subconscious, remember! But you need to take time….below the line to engage and involve this 1%-ers, techies and independents.  Research shows that the longer you work below the line (trough dialogue and with engagement/involvement) the bigger the total impact when you go above the line with your brand/product.

The future of marketing

According to a TNS Media, AMS and Roularta Media Group study 73% of the surveyed marketeers said their job will change between the next 5 to 10 years.  The biggest changes, according to this study, will be the way we communicate and the way we propose the value proposition. This is spot-on if you read my first part. Marketeers need to hand over control to the customer, build a dialogue with that customer and try to establish the most personal brand experience ever (thanks to the big data which accompany this new way of communication), BUT this study shows that marketeers are not prepared to handle this drivers of change. Remember my opening sentence on how the audience barely communicated during the day…So how is the future marketeer shaped? The future marketeer has a huge ability to adapt to different scenario’s and situations, is able to collaborate on different levels with different departments, has a true eye for vision and strategy, is willing to take risks and is able to work with different digital resources and tools….Yes, this profile might be the future marketeer but the road for our marketeers (of today) remains long!

Sources: – Keynote presentation at UBA Trends Day
Image –

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Posted in Flat Business
16 comments on “Involve me and I’ll understand – rethinking Marketing & Communication
  1. […] Rethinking Marketing & Communication is a true necessity to survive next years. “Your customers are in control, and you can’t control them” is the bottom line of today! So If you want to have impact on your customers, you need to get involved with them (through conversation, gamification,…). That’s the (only) way for your brand/company/product to start an engaging relationship with your (potential) customer!  […]

  2. Christine Hofstätter says:

    The life of marketing managers nowadays is surely not an easy one. They lost their direct power to define a reputation for a company. Their target groups seem to be also the most important influencers concerning the brand! Those people have the possibility to speak about a product through many different channels, which makes it very complex.

    I think the power of a user-generated context is incredibly high. I personally trust more in recommendations of other users than in advertisements of a company.

    Importantly, listen to your target group! Try to create value for them!

  3. Helsen Jonas says:

    Marketeers need to change with their consumers. It’s a fact that we own the marketeers and their products. In the one hand, this is a difficult situation for those companies. They simply don’t know what to do. They are really afraid of this powerchange. In the other hand, it is a great opportunity for them to collaborate with us and by doing this, improve their products. They simply need to accept this last thought and hire people who know how to deal with this change.

  4. Mª Teresa Poyo says:

    Digital era has brought full access to all kind of information. We are able to look for a product and compare between the many different companies that offer it. Therefore companies need to realize that they do not have the power any more and act consequently. It is not any more the customer the one who goes looking for the product/ company but the other way around.

    Companies need to approach their customers (target market) in their own “world”, that is, in the social media and start a conversation with them ( it is not any more a “one direction” road…you need the customer to grow, to reach his peers…).

    In my opinion, it is not any more about offering good products. Everyone can do that nowadays. It is absolutely neccesary to be able to offer an additional value that your competitors are not offering yet. It is about experiences and not products any more!

  5. Denis Vandepitte says:

    Yet still the role of the marketeer is not completely gone, I think. Marketing strategy’s are still necessary to get the brand name out there, to spread the image of a certain brand/product. But communication with the customer is in my opinion a completely different story, and isn’t what an old-school marketeer is trained for.

  6. I think marketeers will surely have to change. But some firms won’t be conviced of the power of this new type of marketing and will still use conventional marketing.

    You’ll always have those oldfashioned PR-people I guess.

  7. Shahin Koobasi says:

    Old school marketing is still hot, look at all those big ads on tv they’re still making. In fact marketeres are spending more money on conventional marketing than ever. That being said this new type of marketing is getting more and more important.

  8. yaboydennis says:

    Offcourse marketeers are going to change. Marketeers are there to adjust strategies and think of new methods. But this isn’t a small adjustment either for them, this is real change.
    Businesses will have to take new measurements within their entire company and for many reboot their marketing departement. They will have to go along with the trend wether they like it or not.
    They probably know by now that the people aren’t that easily influenced as before. The new marketeer will find a way, but they will have to be communicative with the consumer from now on.

  9. Bart Van Bosch says:

    I hope traditional markteers only have one more thing to do on this world: make sure all the traditional consumers can die in peace together with traditional advertising. I thinkwe are in that revolution, where social media is going to take the overhand and not where social media is just a long-term trend.

  10. Stefaan Tiepermann says:

    This is a very interesting article! The Joneses example is truly wonderful. I have seen this movie and it is a must-watch. The way it show how a small group of ‘trend-setters’ influences a whole community, just by walking around with all the latest new products of any category, is dazzling. I fully agree that a lot of things we do are subconscious.
    Also interesting is the fact that marketeers now will completely differ from marketeers in five years. Marketeers need to understand that the monologue period is over. Conversation with consumers/costumers is a must. Not only offline but also online. And online is very important. Think of word of mouth : people are incredibly free and if they want anonymous on the internet. The power of the people is enormous. Words can spread faster than ever before.

  11. Matti Verhaegen says:

    It is not easy for a traditional marketeer with years of experience that they now have to change their way of advertise. A part of the companies will go on with this traditional marketing. Just look at the giant billboard in New York and other big cities. According to me, they can stick to this old marketing manner but they have to be aware that the way of marketing is changing? Or is it already too late? In my opinion, the new way of advertising has one big advantage: the conversation with the consumer. The consumer can give the company feedback about their products. The company can change and approve their products. The satisfaction of the customers will automatically increase, just like the engagement of the costumers. Collaboration is a beautiful process of the new marketing!

  12. Max Heylen-Buelens says:

    The customers of a brand are getting more and more important, not just for buying its products, but even more to spread the word of mouth. So the service of a company after selling a product is now more important than it used to be. You just have to keep your customer on your side, and build a positive relationship with it. This way, he might be willing to engage himself for your company!

  13. Annelies Mampaey says:

    I would not say that the old marketing is dead, it just doesn’t reach everyone anymore. If you want to reach the older people, the old marketing strategies are a must. The younger audience is more difficult. With them you really need to build a relationship. They don’t only need to like your product, they need to become real supporters of your brand. If you can achieve this, the word of mouth will do the rest. Companies need to learn this, because those people are their future clients.

  14. Older marketeers definitely need to follow a workshop or a course about communication and maybe even digital culture.. They are always 2 steps behind, and if they don’t change their tactics they will never catch up. The consumers are now the marketeers and they are branding and advertising and selling the brand. Some companies have figured that out and are using that knowledge to ‘use’ the consumers to promote their brand (reviews, testing of products, etc..).

  15. Marc Eberle says:

    Marketing in the future is to collect and sort data and at the end understand them… for the understanding you Need the traditional Marketing Tools! so the marketeers are still necessary, but the way of doing busines will Change dramatically for them.

  16. Petra Schachenhofer says:

    As a company you have to follow the communication flow of your customers. If you don’t you won’t be able to reach them any more. I think you even have to be one step ahead in order to also surprise your customers in a different way to communicate with them.

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