Analog to digital: The mindset shift for marketers

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Marketing professionals are familiar with the traditional advertising strategy which is further divided into- outdoor advertising, print, radio, television, DM and in-store branding as well. It’s as familiar to them as the harried physician’s comment, ‘take two aspirins and call me in the morning’ in so many old, doctor jokes.

Even worse, a lot of marketers have simply adapted this template for the new digital media: outdoor/print ads are equated with online banner ads, your website is basically an online brochure and so on. This approach would be an edge case not just because, you can’t achieve a perfect one-to-one mapping between traditional media and digital media, but because, the digital medium has fundamentally changed the ground rules. Old marketing models are based on the assumption of scarcity of means of broadcasting, where marketers have access to mass communication platforms and consumers do not.

The Internet has changed all that.

Today, anyone with a little time and imagination can find ways to interact with thousands of other individuals across the world through blogs, social networking sites and the constant link-sharing that is a central feature of the digital environment. The extent to which this changes things can be seen from this article, which builds a strong case for seeing Facebook as the world’s largest news organization, by virtue of the sheer mass of news, of all kinds, being shared by its users: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/03/facebook_is_the_largest_news_o.html

It’s a brave new world, where suddenly marketers and consumers are at par, in their potential power to communicate and influence. This means it’s easier for consumers to find out about you and to share their experiences with other consumers – not just a few friends at a weekend party or some colleagues at the office but with a massive global audience. Marketers with traditional mindsets find it easy to be intimidated by the amount of communication going on out there and to seek safety in tried and tested methods. But these methods address a reality that is rapidly vanishing. As Chris Stutzman , from the Forrester Research group puts it ,” Tomorrow’s brands cannot succeed with yesterday’s leadership. Bad habits and mental barriers must be overcome.”

Forrester has evolved an approach to digital marketing that is based on the imperative to change old mental habits and adapt to the new environment. An approach that reflects our own experiences and learnings. Forrester codifies their learning into a methodology they call CORE. The elements of this methodology are:-

• Customized marketing experiences based on individual customer choices and behaviour.
• Optimized decisions and processes that enable customized and responsive interactivity.
• Responsive customer engagement that ensures that the consumer always senses a human touch in their interactions with your organization.
• Empowerment of your staff and customers to drive this mission without second-guessing and reversions to old ways.

You can learn more about the CORE methodology by watching this video: http://blogs.forrester.com/emily_riley/11-05-03-if_you_missed_the_marketing_forum_you_can_still_watch_my_core_speech.

Interestingly, the bottom-line is remarkably close to what i-Vista has always believed in and practiced. The digital is not just an extension of existing media. It’s a whole new world, and one that is increasingly supplanting the traditional marketing arena. As such, it isn’t just a question of optimizing logos for screen resolutions and adapting print campaigns to banner ads. Digital marketing requires a new, constantly engaged and transparent approach.

It’s not a simple shift to make, but it is exciting and rewarding as we’ve discovered during the course of our many engagements helping clients to bridge the digital divide in their marketing mindset.

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