The iPhone and iPad. Facebook. Twitter. SnapChat. Artificial Intelligence. Machine Learning. Chatbots. What all of these devices, sites and technologies have in common is that they were all dubbed “the next big thing.” They were going to revolutionize how we communicate, engage, interact, learn, personalize, etc. And to be frank, they have all done that and more. Each with their own successes in their own ways. For marketers, we continue to get a plethora of tools in our tool belt to connect with existing and potential customers. It seems like every year we start to hear about “the next big thing” that is going to give marketers an edge, revenue to go higher, and champagne to be popped. The reality is that the future of marketing isn’t the next shiny object or technology.
Technology is a Tool, Not a Means to an End
Marketing has advanced more in the last 5 years than the last 50. It’s a simple statement, but true. What used to be the yellow pages and 3 main television networks has become the Internet, mobile phones, streaming TV (yeah, cable is dead) and digital signage. Technology advancements have given marketers the ability to understand, connect, and communicate with customers in more ways than ever before.
Yet, technology will still advance and we are going to see a crazy future of augmented reality, virtual reality, bio-technology, 3D printing and more that is going to allow us to create amazing experiences. Personal experiences. Utilitarian experiences. It will be here faster than we think. And in some ways, it already is. It will be exciting and also really scary.
Reminding Ourselves of the Basics
Which leads me to one of my points about the marketings future. I still argue that we get caught up in the tech and forget about the fundamentals. Where marketing used to be about push, blast and bombard people with advertising and messaging, today we have to be smarter. We have to build relationships. We have to be ready to engage when the customer and prospect wants to engage with us. Everyone says it, but it is worth repeating. We are not in control anymore.
So we have to be smarter. Smarter about:
- the data we collect and how we use it
- the profiles and personas we build
- the relationships we need to establish, build, and nurture
- the messages we send and the content we create
We need to constantly remind ourselves that without a solid foundation of trust a consumer or customer will go somewhere else. If we don’t deliver messaging that is rooted in empathy, personalized with informed data, and not “creepy” to overstate what you know, it will not resonate. If we don’t deliver value in the time and place of need, they will get it from someone else.
Building Great Experiences
We need to use technology, data, and the power of messaging, empathy, and value to drive the next generation of marketing. It’s not ads. It’s not apps. It’s not video. It will be a brand who can put together a value proposition that communicates and demonstratesthat they understand their customer through the use of technology. It will be multi-channel, omni-channel, and in realtime. It will be non-invasive. It will be not one singular shiny object, but the right mix based on how individuals want to connect with that brand. It will combine digital and physical experiences that are in sync. We are closer than we think. Companies like Marriott and MGM Resorts, where experience is fundamental to their business.
There Will Be Another Shiny Object
Undoubtedly, there will be another shiny object. It will be the next version of Google Glass which is sexier built into glasses. Or a super-powered contact that gives us Heads Up Display in an always on mode. We will find the next technology that will distract us and every marketer will want to find the way to monetize it. And we will. We will find a way. We always do. We need to experiment. Fail fast. Find what works and blend it into our strategies. We just need to remember that we should be adding it to our tool belt, not using it independently because it is “the next big thing.” The future of marketing will be rooted in the basics: Trust, Relationships, Empathy, and Value. Not technology for the sake of technology.