Change may the only constant, but change is most hated by everyone.
Look at every new idea, and the people refused to accept the innovation.
Video didn’t kill radio, calculator didn’t make a whole generation dumb, computers didn’t make us lazy, remotes didn’t turn viewers into constantly surfing junkies
They actually did exactly the opposite. Video made radio smarter. Calculators opened up new possibilities. Computers made a whole generation smarter. Remotes forced the TV programmes to become more entertaining and less preachy
What’s my point?
We may as well see this happening with this entire theory of integrated marketing and communication.
The whole practice of Integrated Marketing is based on the belief that consumers are fragmented, and no single medium can reach them with optimum efficiency. Hence we need to surround them with as many mediums and make them see our brand in the right light. In the morning when they wake up, they must see us on newspapers, thought he day they must see us from billboards and radio. In the evening we must blast them with constant ads on TV. These days’ consumers also watch TV in morning, and hear news on TV throughout the day, so our message must be there too. Rise of mobile and internet means new mediums to should be added to the mix. So not just conventional mediums, but also new mediums. Surround the consumer with as much noise as we can, make sure that that the brand is always around them.
And we do it very simply by taking the TV idea and taking it across every medium. So one visual, one colour or one music note and the brand can communicate with its audience consistently, constantly. We can also measure not only the intensity of our message, but also the effectiveness of our message.
There is a big issue with this approach though. This approach believes that consumers are individual islands and the brands can control the interaction. Almost like what Simon and Garfunkel said in their super hit song “words of prophet are written on the subway wall, and people bowed to their Neon God”
The consumers are no longer fragmented; they have started to become collective, become one and are finding their voice. And not through the old world of unions and forums, but through the new age world of online forums, blogs, communities, Facebooks and Mouthshuts.
And the consumers are shunning authority. We no longer live in a world where people instinctively trust authority. As much social research shows, we’d rather trust our own instincts and the information we learn from our friends. For the brands, it’s better to be talked about by consumers than to try to out-shout the crowd.
These are fundamental changes that will make every theory of Integrated marketing stand on its head
The new world than is not about dominating, but is about engagement. It can sound chaotic and scary, but it needn’t be either
So what is it that the brands need to do to engage consumers?
Make the consumers look good: its not about giving the shine to brand, but to the consumer. The Coke Mentos videos on youtube made the consumers into heros for the brand
Give the consumers a platform: learn from them, see how they interact with the brand and make them central to your brand. This is radically different from the existing thought of being idea central. The idea has to take a back seat.
Let them have fun with the brand: let them customize it, use it the way they want to use it, and allow them to tell the world that they have found their own way of using it.
Speak to them in their language: for a very long time, brands have spoken to consumers in their own vocabulary. In the decontrolled world brands will need to speak with consumers in consumers’ own language
What it means is that the old rules of Integrated Marketing have to undergo a change. The centrality of TV is no longer enough. The consumer is finding a voice, and their own voice, and the brands will have to put them in centre. It is no longer about surrounding the consumer, it is about engaging the consumer
May be there are no rules in the new reality
Published in 4Ps of Marketing, January 15, 2010 issue