May I have one scoop of marketing and another of a prefix please?

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Shalini Rawla, Managing Consultant, The Key

Shalini Rawla, Managing Consultant, The Key, Consumer Diagnostics and Intelligence Solutions

Going beyond Entertainment, Experiential, Evangelism and many other Marketing

Marketing does a darned good job of marketing new concepts to marketers. It is a business empire out there that promises to teach marketing to the practitioners of marketing itself. Each generation of marketers is made to believe that the current context is somehow more complex than before and they must unlearn a lot of what they learnt in management schools to relearn the new hows and whys. Each generation feels out of depth with the new tools, approaches, philosophies – call them what you may. Each marketer takes upon herself the challenge to understand the changing media context (oh! It should be called engagement context – in deference to this article) better than her competition so as to wrest a bigger market share. We have seen this over the years. Be it the humble beginning of direct marketing which moved to email marketing followed by a more sophisticated viral marketing only to be deluged later with 360 degrees and integrated marketing. These noble efforts were suddenly touted as intrusive and the suits moved to the newer and more buzzy social and digital marketing which have now metamorphosed into entertainment and experiential marketing. I am sure I have left out a lot more of these new approaches or marketing techniques and am dangerously close to hurting the pride of those marketers who practised an approach not mentioned here. My apologies to them.

What is it with these marketing prefixes and terminologies? Why do we love them so much? A cynic may dismiss them as jargon. But these must be working at some level that they have enjoyed such a long shelf life – well perhaps not in specific terms but as a phenomenon. No wonder all marketers seem to embrace this phenomenon with an open mind and purse – whether it is in the form of conclaves or living breathing campaign strategies. Whatever be the outcome, these varied marketing approaches celebrate the process of change, inspire out of the current box thinking and provide a new sharing experience for the fraternity. What is wrong with that? Nothing. So long as they do not become slaves to these practices. A technique can never become more powerful than the objective. The means can never become the end. Unfortunately most of us fall into this trap. And then blame the rapidly changing context for feeling out of depth with it.
It is the consumer or user who we should be obsessing over. Not the correct approach to engage with her. Once we know the user as much as we know ourselves, the correct approach would automatically unfold in front of us. This may sound like a truism but how many of us are guilty of continuing to put our TVCs on high TRP shows knowing fully well that viewers tend to graze and switch to another channel while the ad break is on? What did we do as a result? Fine tuned our media strategy to figure out eyeballs during breaks.

Instead we should have been chewing on the new habit of our users who have short attention spans and seek perpetual entertainment – be it from content or communication to arrive at newer ways to address this habit. Ways that are medium agnostic. A learning from one medium does not mean the new strategy must only be applied to that medium. We obsess over the frame more than the delightful picture within. Examples abound in the way we seek to be present where our user is. Facebook, Twitter etc are the new contact opportunities. How can we be present there in a more meaningful way? If these are the questions you are laboring over, then you have already accepted that your user is far ahead of you. Don’t find interesting ways to be present on Facebook. Instead ask yourself if you know what the user finds as the most exciting part of the Facebook experience? When is she the most eager to socialize with a brand online? And when she does meet it, what are her expectations from it? A young college girl put it very aptly when she said, “I love Zara. I have ‘liked’ it online. But does Zara love me back? Does not seem so as it has not reciprocated my gesture.” Should we be happy to get enough likes on our brand pages from enough fans? How about becoming a fan of your user? Is any of us doing anything about the fact that there is an initial disenchantment with Facebook which has already set in amongst its users?

The new marketing approaches are emerging because of the changing consumer habits, attitudes and expectations. Even marketing research in all these years has been responding to the changing marketing approaches and research briefs. Offline focus groups became online groups but is the user not using the mobile and internet differently? Obsess over the user and not the changing marketing techniques. Otherwise we shall always be guilty of living in an era of Consumer 2.1 and Marketing 1.9.

The views expressed here are of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Pitch

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