In the opening episode of sci-fi blockbuster Torchwood, Captain Jack says, “It’s the 21st century; that’s when everything changes.” Though we’re not experiencing a temporal rift in the space-time continuum, we are undergoing a seismic shift in the locus of power in commercial communication—a marketing temporal rift. Branding legend Tom Asacker, in A Little Less Conversation, describes five major trends painting the edges of this shift:
- Today’s consumer is supersaturated with choice
- Today’s consumer is bombarded with overwhelming amounts of information thrust upon them from an endless array of media
- The marketplace is influenced by radical transparency and message amplification
- Not only are consumers well informed and savvy, they want to participate in marketing (in the past, consumers were content merely to consume marketing with no expectation of co-creating it)
- Customers do not trust businesses or the people who run them
What do these trends mean for marketers? For starters, it means that marketers are not in charge. Public relations pros of yesteryear admonished corporations and political candidates to “control the message.” Even if that ever was possible, it’s impossible today. There are too many people creating their own messaging on too many platforms for anyone to control the message.
Secondly, it means marketers simply must focus on the people in the marketplace. Getting the message IN is a first step toward overcoming the pervasive skepticism in consumer’s minds. Could be that what you HEAR is far more valuable than anything you might possibly SAY.
Third, old notions such as economy-of-scale just don’t matter any more. The marketplace IS a level playing field for anyone willing to forget old habits, humbly engage with human beings person-to-person, and give people an opportunity to co-create the experiences they seek.
Chief Marketing Officers have their work cut out for them. The marketing temporal rift changes everything. The world “out there” has already changed radically. The question is, can CMOs handle the change required “in here” to even survive?