Over the last few years we've seen some of the biggest shifts in consumer behavior, could this be the end of marketing as we know it?
Marketing trends come and go, much like consumer wants and needs. But, until now, the essence of marketing has remained the same. The traditional 4 P's of marketing (product, place, price & promotion) have served us well as the structural pillars of marketing strategies for many years. But, with the rise of conscious consumerism and the impact of social media, customers are looking for more from brands, and by extension, their marketing.
The entrepreneurs, brand builders and creative marketers that fail to recognise and adapt to this paradigm shift are going to be left behind.
"In a recent study it said that 40% of the Fortune 500 won't be here in the next 10 years, so the time to rethink your brand strategy is now."
Brands that we grew up with have quickly disappeared with whole industries being disrupted and as I plan the impending launch of my new business, reboxed, I too have been studying the changing attitudes of today’s consumer and looking at brands who are really smashing their marketing. After much research, I have come to the conclusion that there is just one marketing strategy every marketer should be focusing on in 2020 - Marketing with Attitude.
A quick back story…
I’ve spent most of my life marketing things, from my own boyband (yes, you heard right) to building one of the UK’s leading social marketing agencies Disrupt, working across experiential, social content and influencers. I've pretty much been at the forefront of the consumer marketing revolution for the last 10 years.
To a certain extent, I got lucky. I’m a millennial. I grew up with the internet, mobile phones, and social networks. I belong to what I like to call the “connected generation”. I experienced the revolution first hand, something older established companies had limited understanding of. I was part of the biggest shift in advertising - smart devices and social media.
It completely revolutionised the way we communicate and advertise. No longer is this a one-way relationship for brands and advertisers to push marketing messages down hundreds and thousands of throats.
"Social media has given consumers more food than ever before, they are all full up and these days they get to choose what to digest."
The State of Play
Our relationship with consumers is in crisis, trust in advertising and loyalty to brands is at an all-time low. For years consumers have been lied to, interrupted and raped for data and as we live in a post-truth, fake news world where winners are no longer those who shout the loudest, the facts are clear to see - no one cares about advertising anymore.
It’s time to rethink the role of marketing and advertising or face being ignored or worse, forgotten. We, brands/marketers/advertisers seek attention from a generation who hover over a skip button and use ad blockers, if you're anything like me you're one of the 600 million people who use ad blockers.
I have witnessed first hand the demise of traditional advertising methods. The shift was fast. Innovative disrupters appeared almost overnight; winning over the masses with their contagious untraditional, unapologetic, no-care-for-old-ways attitude.
Naturally, this led to a mad scramble of crappy traditional media companies trying to keep up with the times. I’ll tell you now - poor creatives, a bag of exhausted growth hacks, old hat metrics and a host of PR and content production will not help you to connect or even understand the new generation of consumers.
Whilst in the trenches, I saw it coming; hundreds of social media companies marched onto the scene, a barrage of new platforms connecting brands and consumers, influencers building huge audiences with engagement levels brands can only dream of. I don’t think many knew what was actually happening, or if they did, they stood scared, staring down the barrel not knowing what to do. We had reached the biggest turning point in how we [humans] communicate with and consume brands.
In my humble opinion, if a brand wants to succeed in today's world they must become more human. That means creating brand stories and learning to connect with consumers on an emotional level, developing trusting, sustainable and above all real human relationships. You have to become more than a logo and above all add value to lives, consumers now expect brands to have a stand on cultural moments and as Nike showcased recently with their marketing standing for something can create a connection with their audience on an emotional level.
People look to brands for entertainment, inspiration, and empowerment - they want something to believe in that aligns with their ethics.
"In a world where we are all just looking for some human connection, a brand must learn to play a role."
So how can you cut through the noise, get more customers and learn the art of social marketing so you can win in 2020, I hear you ask? Well, the good news is as I don't run a marketing agency anymore - I'm going to give you, for free, the same framework and strategy we used to help some of the biggest brands in the world become famous and grow their audiences and the blueprint of what I'll be using to launch my new start-up reboxed.
So, WTF is M.W.A?
Remember the original 4p’s of marketing product, price, place, and promotion that created the marketing mix, well, although they are still key I’ve developed the new 4p’s of Marketing with Attitude which is the framework of social marketing.
Remember, consumers are humans, we are all people.
"To start with, you must understand the people you are trying to get attention from, you can't just buy attention anymore you have to earn it."
So, start by treating them like humans because as soon as you change your attitude and belief towards today’s consumer, you’ll start to understand that it isn’t about adverts, it’s about human advocacy.
The 4P's of Marketing with Attitude
These four P’s are Purpose, Passion, People and Physical each of which play an important part in helping to connect on a more human level and create a strong brand story.
What are you shared values and beliefs with your consumer, what do you stand for, your reason for being (this can’t be to sell stuff to me)?
Who is your tribe? People that care about your brand, find them and make them human citizens of your brand, make them your heroes.
Understand what your audience cares about, what moves them, figure out how to add value to their lives, create a community, not consumers.
Create moments that will bring people together, experiences they can connect with and interact with your brand.
This philosophy is absolutely integral to a modern marketing mix and needs to be integrated into the original 4P’s so you can bring it back to what all your consumers really want to feel something…
From global brands like Apple, Unilever, and Nike, to sustainable startups like Allbirds (pictured right) and Tony’s Chocoloneys these brands are using the principles of M.W.A to understand their audience, create stories and build relationships.
Unilever has even said that from its portfolio of brands the "sustainable living" category has grown from 18 to 26 brands in the last year. The 26 grew 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of all turnover growth.
Honestly, there’s only one way to do it well if you want to win the hearts and minds of your consumers – you have to truly understand how they think and feel. A great place to start is addressing the language you use to describe who you’re selling to. We seem to be fixated on referring to people as consumers, instantly dehumanising them. Taking away their identity and replacing it with marketing buzz words.
The true aim of marketing is to influence human behavior and with “two-thirds of your marketing being done without you" via social media, consumer-driven content, reviews, and word of mouth, the role of a brand have to evolve. We can no longer deny it – people have the power.
Human relationships with brands are deteriorating at an alarming rate. So, if you want to stay relevant and connected to your audience, then become fans of your fans and rethink your brand strategy, do it now and do it fast before it's too late.
By Marketing with Attitude and adopting the new four Ps, we can rebuild trust, bring people together and add value to the lives of many. As demonstrated by brands like Allbirds and Tony's Chocolonely.
When you use your marketing to connect with your audience over a common purpose, it's not only good for your brand but can have an outstandingly positive impact on the world.
It’s our responsibility as an industry to rebuild trust, tear down the walls and rethink the role marketing plays in today's world, to build brands with purpose and to influence people in a positive way. As Jaron Lanier says, "it starts with us - let’s make the world a better place."
So take the 4P's, go OWN 2020, share it, tell a friend, and make sure you stay tuned for more insights, inspirations, and ideas via my blog and podcast. If you are interested in booking the talk for your conference check out my speaker page.