This blog was written by Francesca Gonzalez-Roel, Hispanic Marketing Communication Graduate Student, and inspired by Bill Lee’s article in The Harvard Business Review:
In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Bill Lee suspects that marketing is dead. He defines traditional marketing as public relations, branding, and corporate communication. These traditional routes can be troubling because there is a disconnect between producer and consumer. These modes of marketing tend to lack the personal quality that product users crave. Presently, in a world of constant conversation, his suspicion may be right.
This world is deeply connected and intertwined. In fact, the rise of social media in the last decade has allowed humans to be connected to each other 24 hours a day. Information is available without so much as a click. That is if you have a touch screen smart phone! This means conversations are happening all over the world about products and services. TV commercials are not influencing our buying habits anymore. What our friends are saying on Twitter however, is.
Consumers need more than a picturesque snap shot of a product, which is what commercials and other forms of traditional marketing deliver. With a more personal and connected approach to marketing, consumers can evaluate the practicality and emotional value of the product. Is it satisfying? Does it exceed the expectations of a customer who has tried it? Cultivating this experience is derived from community driven marketing.
In short, community marketing is a way to market a product via word of mouth within a community. [This can be virtually or personally.] Community influencers and members try a product and almost naturally share their experience with their friends and neighbors.
Planned efforts of this can be seen with Product Ambassadors– those who have tried a product and are eager to spread the word.
You will see a lot of this on college campuses. Companies such as Bloomberg Institute and Victoria Secret Pink have students who are currently or have previously worked for the brand, know the culture, and have had experience with the products. Their job is to promote the brand around campus. These ambassadors talk about their experience and encourage others to try it out for themselves.
On the virtual plane, the web 2.0 phenomenon is another reason why traditional marketing is a dead paradigm. Forums, blogs, web communities like Amazon.com that promote costumer reviews and reactions, and social networks like Facebook are trumping traditional branding strategies. These modes of communication are straightforward and honest, contributing to brand equity. The more equity, the more purchasing power the company gains.
So maybe marketing isn’t dead, but it is, with a doubt, evolving into something entirely new. Consumer/community driven marketing is the new paradigm. This doesn’t make marketers obsolete, but it does transform old practices. Marketers need to be a part of these communities, share their experiences, and start the conversation.