What is happening .... - and why does it continue?
Digital, digital marketing in particular, offered so much. To date, the record suggests the delivery has been isolated, inconsistent and to a considerable extent, disappointing. Digital is transformational. Its potential is immense. Sadly, that potential remains unfulfilled, primarily because of a lack of understanding, the allocation of insufficient resources and sub-optimal application.
Digital products, services and the concept itself are like the internet and social media. They represent, and are an inherent part of the future. When understood, supported astutely, applied and complemented with existing networks, capabilities and skills, digital is an enabler, and expeditor, which has the capacity to save time, enhance productivity, effectively target communication and optimise strategies, tactics and interactions.
The concept cannot be deployed in isolation. Companies and entities need to invest capital, infrastructure, people, training, support and integration to achieve and sustain the true potential.
To date the global transition has been slow. Old practices persist and financial and human resources are limited.
Broadcast radio is a contemporary case study. Analogue stations, with an emphasis on talk-back and news, persist, - profitably.
FM broadcasting has enhanced the quality of sound of the music played, but has limitations in transmission areas. The immense choice available on digital transmission is widely-known but largely unused because of the need to purchase new receivers.
Television represents a similar scenario with consistently like-trends.
AT WHAT COST?
Significant numbers of consumers recognise the potential, choice, benefits and advantages and rewards which are inherent in digital broadcasting and transmission.
They are happy to have it available. However, in recent times free service has become the norm and the expectation.
The “innovator” and “early adopter” market segments have been quick to respond positively. Sadly, those market mavens typically represent only around 10% of the marketplace.
The larger, and potentially very profitable sub-grouping, “Early Majority”, exhibit a measure of indifference, rather than resistance. For a marketplace which is driven by NOW consumers, who seek instant gratification, an attitude of “all in good time” seems to pervade.
A LITTLE HISTORY
My, how things have changed.
In 1947 the first School of Marketing was established at Harvard University, in the United States of America.
Its genesis was timely and appropriate. After the ravages of six years of World War II, human fertilisation rates peaked around the world. The then prevailing sales era persisted until 1963, when the first of the post-war boomers entered the workforce, secured an income and triggered consumerism.
Until that time the mantra for business centred on the 4 P’s being:
Product. Price. Place. Promotion.
A strong focus was on the products, their features and general physical presence.
A carry-over of huge national, family and personal debts impeded product development. Mass production was a virtue. However, unit costs of production were the pre-eminent corporate goals, and measures of success
Quality was a difficult concept to visualise, articulate and sell. Obsolescence was, in general terms, deemed to be a future consideration
THE BIRTH OF CONSUMERISM
1963 was a benchmark year.
Carnaby Street, mini-skirts, the birth-control pill and the Beatles evolved and had immediate, widespread impacts.
Fashion, transition, range and choices created interest, stimulated demand and generated sales, wealth and opportunities.
Part of the transition was the emergence of the 4 P’s of marketing, by:
Perceptions, Perspectives, Paradigms and Positioning.
The impact of the year 2000 extended well beyond the fears of the Y2K computer threat, and the birth of the millennium.
All things analogue were under threat. The digital world was not binary in nature or outlook. Choice and range were omnipotent.
Conglomerates were being dismantled. Miniaturisation was gathering pace. Nano-science and nano-medical procedures were at the cutting edge of human endeavour and experience. A new template was in place and in force.
The 4 D’s had arrived:
Daring. Different. Digital, Disruptive.
Individually and collectively, these concepts are essential foundations for reaching out, connecting and engaging with the current marketplace.
Their essential values are:
Daring – Tolerates and embraces risk, dispels fear
Different – Is lateral, not literal
Digital – A channel, not a product
Disruptive – Typically enhances, seldom replaces
They are widely discussed, marginally understood and sparsely applied with acumen.
Most of the marketplace potential remains latent, unfulfilled and awaiting the deft hand of an astute marketer..... - a leader.
WE NEED HELP
Interestingly, digital marketing consultants, with their abundance of product knowledge, are experiencing difficulty in monetarising the concepts’ appeal among clients and the public at large.
Substantiating and quantifying the financially tangible benefits are difficult. Their own earnings have plateaued.
This has been compounded by the evolving knowledge- bank which is revealing poor effective widespread exposure, and by the responses to social media advertising. Advertising, marketing and communication budgets, which had seen mass migration from traditional and established mass media, are being reset and redirected.
Too much of “one thing”, it seems, is simply indigestible and can leave a nasty taste, particularly among those who fed the market with such high expectations.
Delegated authority parameters change when companies are being recalibrated. Long-standing executives and business owners are assuming greater responsibility and applying more detailed key performance indicators and monitoring measures with respect to their own digital transformation processes. Rightly so.
Realising the innate potential of digital will require discipline, integration, infrastructure, support and resources.
THE INITIAL STEPS
In isolation, the introduction of digital will generally not be overly successful. The concept performs best when it is an integral component of a structured, integrated and well-resourced strategy.
The following progressive elements are fundamental:
· Identify, isolate, analyse and determine the optimal application of the chosen aspects of the digital spectrum.
· Study the needs, wants, circumstances and criteria applied by those in the primary, secondary, tertiary target audiences.
· Establish the preferred transition period and which existing products, services and applications will be retained and deployed to support and complement the digital innovations.
· Seek out and conclude strategic alliances with key internal and external spheres- of- influence.
· Formulate, document and implement well-resourced budgets for the immediate, intermediate and longer terms.
· Ensure the introduction and conduct of on-going training for all relevant people in the supply chains.
· Maintain a conspicuous marketplace presence of people, products, services and applications. Even with digital, share-of-mind often equates to share of market.
Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is an internationally respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst and conference keynote speaker.
Conference Keynote Speaker
M: 041 983 5555