The principle of marketing are still the same; however, the rules of how it is done have changed. The time has come when marketers have to stop talking to their customers and begin to engage in a meaningful dialogue with them.
It used to be that marketers would establish one key message and communicate that message to many channels. As long as you fulfilled the time-tested 5 P’s of People, Product, Product, Price, and Promotion, your marketing would be effective. But who decides on what that key message is, and how, when, and where it should be communicated? The answer is: “the customer decides” and that is what triggers the “changing landscape.”
How the Customer Was Buying
In the past, customers have been bombarded with a variety of repeated messages from traditional advertising media to gain their attention and encourage them to buy. The advertiser was clearly in control of the communication and, like it or not, the customer was going to be interrupted from whatever they were doing.
Shift in Consumer Behavior
There has been a fundamental shift in consumer behavior and expectations. Consumers are more educated and empowered to control their entire buying process. Fragmented media has become less effective and consumers have become savvy in learning how to use technology to avoid intrusion and take control of the buying process. In his book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” David Meerman Scott talks about the change in today’s consumer mindset. He recommends that marketers stop the “shouting” of their messages and instead engage the customer in the buying process to best identify and meet their needs. He further believes that the web, and the new technologies surrounding it, have played a large role in changing the rules for marketing to the customer.
Everyone is the Media
The new technologies have enabled connections and removed barriers between the marketers and their customers. Years ago customers shopped products and services by “letting their fingers do the walking” through the Yellow Pages; now the prolific use of the internet has changed that. According to Forrester Research, 85% of consumers have done some shopping for products or services online. Marketers can more directly reach their prospective buyers and the buyer can speak directly to the marketer of the product or service. Collaboration using Word of Mouth and social media is becoming the norm. Everyone is the media and everyone is the publisher of the message.
The Customer Is In Control
Marketers are now realizing that it’s not about how much advertising you do—instead, it’s all a matter of trust. No one wants to be sold. Today’s customer trusts each other more than they trust the marketer. That same marketer who used to control the customer’s buying process with one-way, intrusive communications, now must create relevant content and establish a dialogue forum in order to engage the prospective buyer. It’s through establishing a trustworthy customer engagement that the marketer will ultimately achieve success in adapting to the changing landscape.