One of my new favorite shows is Mad Men, a show about a group of men and women who work for a 1960’s marketing agency on the famous Madison Avenue in New York City. It is an excellent show that highlights the culture and sometimes absurdity of that decade. The biggest thing I think about, however, is the huge difference between how marketing was done back then and now.
Back then it was straight forward: you did all your advertising on print, television, or radio. Big agencies had a department for each of those areas. You would draw in clients using one of those channels, word of mouth, or if someone walked by the building and saw your sign. Marketing research was done in a similar way, but they didn’t have access to massive amounts of free data and analytics like we do now. Studying trends and forecasting were also similar. Marketing was done in this fashion for decades until the 21st century, when the Internet became accessible and affordable for everyone. Now there is a new player in the game and it grows bigger every day: Digital Marketing.
Digital Marketing has turned the whole industry upside down. Now marketers need to think about concepts that didn’t exist 20 years ago: SEO (search engine optimization), CPC (cost per click), and social media marketing to name a few. They need to know what key words their audience is searching and what websites they visit. They need to know which social media sites their audience uses: whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or others. They need to understand Google and Facebook Analytics, as well as the Ad programs for each. These are all things I have had to learn too as a marketer, because companies NEED to know these concepts. Kmart, Sears, and Radio Shack all failed because they couldn’t adapt to modern times. They were all great companies in the past, but you need to keep up to date with marketing practices and trends if you want to survive.
Like other technologies, Digital Marketing is growing fast and always evolving. New ideas are coming out and online classes are being created. I read a 100-page book on just Instagram marketing, that is how in-depth it can get. Using ‘influencers’ has become a big thing over the past few years. This is where you pay someone to promote your product on social media. It is usually someone who has a large audience that is like yours, you leverage their ‘influence’ and their audience to get more traffic and/or sales to whatever link you choose. Sales funnels are another tool that has become popular. Sales funnels draw people in with their ad copy and send them to a landing page. From that landing page, they get guided through multiple offers, usually up-sells, until they reach the check-out. The cool thing about Digital Marketing is that a lot of these concepts can be put together and used very cheaply compared to traditional marketing methods, such as paying for a television ad.
What will the future of marketing look like? Maybe 50 years from now there will be technologies that we can’t even imagine. One thing for certain, though, is that Digital Marketing is here to stay. And if you are a marketer you can’t afford to stay in the dark.