Digging deeper into the current marketing climate

A few months ago, I sat down with my grandparents for breakfast because I hadn’t been able to see them on my 24th birthday. After going through the usual “how are you?” and “what’s new?” we came across a topic that perplexed them: what exactly I do for a living.

I’ve tried to nail this answer down to a consistent science, but I always find it somewhat difficult to unpack. It’s the same feeling that overcame me when I was asked to “explain the internet to someone who’s never heard of or seen it before” during an interview with Google.

The truth is, on any given day my role can shift from content marketer to public relations specialist to brand consultant to account executive to graphic designer to copywriter and on and on the list goes.

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” – David Packard

That’s because the term marketing has become incredibly malleable, encompassing an array of meanings across various disciplines.

After more than 4 years of professional experience in a diverse group of industries including information technology, healthcare, and sports nutrition, here are some of the most problematic issues I’ve identified with modern marketing.

1. Innovation

As Nick Law stated to Campaign regarding the current state of marketing:

“We find ourselves in a position where, because of our original timidness and lack of courage, we’re on the back foot. Right now we’ve gone from being a very arrogant, insular industry to one that feels under siege.”

Law is considered by many to be one of the great strategic marketing minds of our generation, having led the development of the Nike+ platform and Beats Music. He believes there’s an absence of imagination from agencies on how to innovate as a result of becoming too comfortable in the current marketing climate. Essentially, the model most agencies employ is fundamentally broken, constantly talking about innovation and pivoting to the future without actually doing so.

At the end of the day, a lot of teams are still stuck on the tropes and metaphors that worked in advertising decades ago. Marketers need to change and begin to ask themselves, how are we going to do this differently?”

2. Technology

Technology is rapidly advancing.

And marketing teams are desperately trying to foresee upcoming trends while concurrently falling behind current trends dominating the industry. Look at social media, which has become nothing more than a watered-down tactic that many companies still don’t fully understand. As these platforms evolve, many people will be forced to adapt or risk getting left behind.

Consumers crave authentic, relevant, and valuable content, and brands must engage with their audience digitally through the platforms that have traditionally worked (email, print, etc.) while also being aware of what’s coming next.

The looming digital experience of tomorrow will continue to dominate how we think about marketing and branding strategies today.

3. Quality

A study of media usage and ad exposure conducted by Media Dynamics, Inc. revealed that the average consumer may see upwards of 5,000 ads daily.

What do you think the average number of ads that engage a customer is?

We are living in the age of transparency, where consumers are overrun with blatant pieces of advertising at every turn.

A lot of marketers fail to build trust with their audience by posting on the wrong mediums or coming across as self-promotional and “salesy.” Don’t publish something every day for the sake of publishing, as your followers will quickly become irritated if their feed is dominated by filler content.

Instead, strive to establish a healthy balance between industry-related news and company culture to offer a personal and knowledgeable social presence.

4. Leadership

Marketing needs more risk-takers. And this starts with the individuals leading creative teams.

“Executives recognize that to devise ingenious innovations, they must break paradigms and shift mindsets. But when it comes to delivery, they often lapse into standard ways of thinking.”- Harvard Business Review

The world is filled with innovative products and groundbreaking services, shaping the future of customer engagement. While many leaders are able to confidently develop a big idea, they are stagnating in their ability to execute and mobilize a creative team to commercialize it.

Marketing is too focused on what happens after an innovation is ready to launch. Instead, an emphasis should be placed on positioning it to be ready in the first place — by creating a new market or expanding into an existing one, developing how it will provide value to the customer, and building out a complete solution.

We’re entering a period where mediums are proliferating, and creative leaders are failing because of their outdated belief in big ideas.

5. Buzzwords

There is no shortage of self-proclaimed thought leaders, advertising gurus, and marketing experts waiting to suck your pockets dry without substantial evidence of an effective strategy backed by quantifiable results. Anyone can slap a glitzy word on their LinkedIn profile. The problems arise when these individuals don’t deliver.

This inflation of marketing buzzwords has diminished the trust between marketers and their audience, keeping both sides wary of a cohesive relationship.

Where Does This Leave Us?

Don’t get me wrong, this is an incredibly exciting time to work in marketing. There are more opportunities than ever before to get creative and make a real impact on social media, VR, AI, experiential marketing, and so much more.

Modern marketing strikes a delicate balance between art and science. The best we can do is remain authentic, continue learning, and embrace an offbeat idea or two. It might just change the marketing space as we know it.