The Real Future of Marketing

This week, I was reading a Dave Berkus piece (author of Berkonomics among other books) about marketing where he said, “Go ahead, revert to old school marketing...if you dare.” Berkus then proceeds to say “Today, if you’re not targeting your marketing effort with predictive analysis and segment-focused communications, you are way behind those who do.”

So Dave’s a fan of “big data analytics” and the new tools that allow us to find and target just the right audience at the right time. Wow, that sounds SO good, right?  The problem comes when these ideas are executed by greedy humans and their soul-less marketing automation software. 

Unfortunately “big data” approaches to marketing typically involve taking data that was acquired without the customer’s consent (often in secret) and using it to spy on them —and then bludgeon them on various platforms with advertising, sponsored posts and really ANYTHING to get a sale.  

Marketing master Seth Godin warns us about this in his recent blog post “Modern marketing and hustle”

Hustle uses shortcuts and effort to bend the conventions of society to get more than the hustler’s fair share of attention. Hustle burns trust for awareness. Because it’s a shortcut, hustle might deliver in the short-run, but hustle is notably non-consensual. Few people want to be hustled.

Marketing is the work of helping people get what they’ve wanted all along. Marketing is about establishing the conditions for a small group of people to eagerly spread the word and build connection. Modern marketing changes the culture by establishing what the new norms are, and does it in a way that makes things better for those it serves.

There it is.

Berkus would do well to study Godin’s wise words. Big data does NOT replace empathy and it does NOT replace connection that comes from superior storytelling, useful content and trust.  

Here’s the question that will guide you. Would YOU want a company to do “predictive analysis” on you (and your family) and then spy on all of your devices and your life without your consent in an effort to try and sell you things in a sneaky almost subliminal manner? Do YOU like being looked at by the companies you trust as their “target” or “potential conversion?” —You don’t, right. So why would you ever do that to your customers?

There is a better way.  And it goes just like this:

  1. Create a story about THEM and helping THEM get what they really want.
  2. Generate content (blogs, videos, graphics, etc) to inform, educate and help THEM.
  3. Work with media and influencers to take your message to their audiences and build trust.

That is the only future of marketing that ends in a good place. No amount of technology, automation and data will never replace these things.