THE END OF ADVERTISING? HOW NEW MEDIA HAS (AND WILL!) CHANGE THE MARKETING LANDSCAPE
Within just a few short years, social media has taken over business. Click on over to any corporate website and you’ll see Facebook “like” buttons and pins for Pinterest galore. It’s not any wonder that many marketing professionals believe the marketing landscape is rapidly changing before our very eyes. But, is it really? Will new digital media replace old advertising methods, or is it really just a modern means of getting back to very old principles?
To answer these questions, it’s important to understand what advertising really is, and how social media differs. Then, it’s easier to see how the two contrast, and how they might be used together, with each method enhancing the other.
How Traditional Advertising Works
Most advertising methods are known as “interruption media.” That means that you have to interrupt consumers in order to get their attention and persuade them to buy. Commercials interrupt television shows. Pop-up ads interrupt web browsing time. Even the radio has to stop the music to play a string of paid advertisements after every five or ten songs. Traditional advertising essentially says “Hey! Look at me!”
While these methods have worked through the ages (at least some of the time), consumers today are being so bombarded by messages that they have learned to tune them out. Of the thousands of ads nearly every person is exposed to daily, only a few will really resonate and stay with them for longer than a few minutes. This is a problem for advertisers, since consumers won’t purchase what they don’t remember.
So, what makes an ad memorable? The specifics may change with each product or service, but the simple answer stays the same: personalization. Customers will remember an ad that directly speaks to them, either with an answer to their problems, or with something they find of particular interest. The problem with many campaigns is that they miss the mark in this respect.
How Social Media has Changed Things
New, or digital, media has changed the marketing game for companies because it gives them a chance to really interact with customers. For instance, if someone has a bad experience with a certain restaurant, they can leave a comment on the company’s social media page to get a faster response. Many businesses now have entire departments specializing in managing their social media campaigns and responding to customer comments.
Digital media doesn’t just include Facebook and its ilk, either. Blogs, online news articles, and other online sources also qualify as new media. Anything that allows businesses and consumers to bridge the gap between one another is going to help ensure better customer service and a more personalized experience.
Is “New” Media Really New?
While the technology is certainly new, there is nothing new about the concept of connecting on a more personal level with consumers. Once upon a time, good customer service meant something, and business owners were judged by their ethics and merit. Buyers of goods and services have always appreciated more one-on-one attention and service, but as businesses grew larger and became more globalized, it became harder for them to really connect with their customers. Instead, customer service representatives, many of whom have no real authority to help with some problems, have been hired to manage the customers. Many of these workers are underpaid and understaffed, both of which lead to more hurried conversations and a lack of real personal connection.
Although Facebook probably won’t connect a customer with the CEO of a major corporation, social media has allowed complaints, and even praises, for businesses to be recognized by higher-ups. This is due, in part, to the companies not being able to afford negative publicity. Irate rants from ticked-off customers on Twitter certainly aren’t helpful for a company’s image. But there is another reason social media has helped both customers and business owners. It’s allowed consumers to voice their concerns without being censored or asked a million questions by customer-service representatives reading from a script. They just type what they feel. Business professionals also benefit from this type of interaction, because they learn what their consumers are really concerned about in their own words.
Getting Back to Basics
Digital media has simply given businesses and consumers a more modern way to get back to the basics of doing business: good customer service and an understanding of consumer needs. It’s certainly a step in the right direction, as many crave the kind of personal attention that seemed lost in this new age of email, automated phone menus, and crappy hold music. Odd as it may seem, technology is bringing the humanity back to business.
So, with all these positive changes, and with new social sites being developed all the time, does this spell the end of traditional “interruption” advertising? Quite the opposite. In fact, the US Postal Service has noted an increase in direct mail, such as postcards or catalogs, being sent in recent years. Rather than replace conventional advertising methods, new media has simply helped businesses make their campaigns more effective.
Bringing it All Together
Advertising existed long before the current business setting. What that means, is that even before businesses grew so large they could no longer offer personalized attention to each customer, advertising was a useful tool for gaining new business. Today, it’s still a useful tool for gaining new business. The difference social media has made in advertising lies more within how campaigns are put together. For instance, a Facebook poll may give insight on customer opinions, and that information can be used to develop a more effective direct-mail campaign. The opposite is also true. A catalog may entice consumers to either make an immediate purchase, or to check out a company website or social media page for more information.
Mobile marketing is also an emerging part of newer advertising campaigns, with quick response (QR) codes being placed on everything from product packaging to magazine ads. These allow consumers to view your mobile web pages immediately, so they’re more likely to make a purchase than if you simply had a web address or phone number listed for them to use later.
As technology and digital media efforts mature, the result will be more targeted advertising campaigns that are fully integrated with a company’s online campaigns. Both methods will work together to provide a more seamless and personalized experience for every customer.