My father used to say, “A novel technology, never fear, it will be a necessity by the end of the year.”
When I think about the future of marketing, I think of my grandfather. He grew up in a time when there were three ruts in the country roads: two for the wagon wheels and one for the horse. He lived to witness a man land on the moon, which he watched on color television. Although we may not fully appreciate it, we are living with the same rate of change. The leap between Yellow Pages and HubSpot is no less significant than the leap between a wagon and a lunar lander, but there is a significant difference.
My grandfather was a spectator. He didn’t have to deal with advances in space flight because he didn’t earn his living through the space program. Those of us in business, on the other hand, must deal with advances in marketing because our livelihoods depend on it.
When confronting the future, it is useful to think of marketing as two separate disciplines: delivery and message. Delivery is how we get our message out, message is what we get out.
Delivery has been and is changing at an accelerating pace. I don’t know what technologies will replace HubSpot and WordPress. Nobody does. But something will, and sooner than we think.
Message is a different story. The elements and composition of a great message haven’t changed since Claude Hopkins invented the sampling coupon in the 1920s, and they’re not likely to change in the foreseeable future.
Don’t misunderstand, delivery and message are equally important. Our marketing campaigns must be really good at both to succeed. It’s clear that a broad-platform, multimedia, fully automated drip campaign with a lame offer will fail, just as will the most compelling offer that no one sees.
For those of us in business, however, dealing with the future means resisting the temptation to focus on delivery with its shiny new technologies. That can be hard to do because everybody’s talking about it. I often hear from nervous business owners who believe they’re being left behind: “I’ve got to get good at social media,” or “I’ve got to figure out SEO,” or “I’ve got to automate all this stuff.” Well, yes, someone does, but not us. If we focus on delivery, first of all, we’re not likely to be very good at it, and second, who will create the message? We are better off delegating delivery to the pros, the people who keep up with technology and who are already better at it than we will ever be. That frees us to devote our efforts to the message, where we are the pros.
Delegating delivery makes dealing with the future of marketing a lot like dealing with the past, and the long history of marketing has shown us how to do that. We may not write or design the actual content, that also is a skill we can delegate, but we are the directors. We make the decisions, choices and approvals, and to do so, we have to understand that great marketing campaigns:
1. Are directed toward a specific target market
2. Are based upon a well-thought-out unique selling proposition (USP)
3. Include an arresting, attention-grabbing headline
4. Contain an irresistibly appealing offer
5. End with a compelling call to action
A target market answers the most important question in marketing: “Whom are we talking to?” The answer to that question enables us to tailor our USP, headlines, offers and calls to action to a like-minded, specific audience. The USP enables us to answer the target’s question: “Why should I buy from you?” The arresting headline engages our target audience, and without it, no one would watch, read or listen to our irresistible offer. Our compelling Call to Action gives the target reason to act NOW, rather at some distant time in the future (i.e. never).
If you guffawed at my old-timer story above, your turn is coming. There likely will be a day you find yourself telling some eye-rolling youngster: “Back in my day, we had to use an actual physical device — with batteries — to connect to the internet.”
The Future Of Marketing: What Should You Be Focusing On?
Written by Martin Holland
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