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What price will businesses have to pay to make sure they have the best seat in the house?
I was recently asked a question by a member of the Klout.com (a website which used to calculate your online social influence score) community about the future of social networks. My brief answer was that I was expecting the growth of short video clip sharing and an increase in small closed communities with similar interests. This is an educated guess based on my personal observations on networks that I am active on and have an interest in, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks.
Then a student asked me about the future of marketing. This is much harder to answer. In order to gain some time to answer this difficult question, my first response was:
“The basic principles of marketing have not changed. Marketing practices on the other hand, are already changing.”
I challenged the group of students to point out the visible changes, and here are some of the answers they came up with:
- Social networks are becoming more important for brands
- Traditional communication is not as effective as it use to be
- Marketing departments are becoming more operational and less strategic
- Short term results are being prioritized and “promotion” is preferred over “branding”
- There is lots of information about everything and no time and/or people to manage it
- Marketing decisions seem to be more tactical and reactive
So what can we say about the future of marketing?
First of all, the future is a place where everybody wants to be and when they get there, they want to be in a good position – you need to make sure buy a good seat. The question is – at what price?
Based on social trends, I am encouraged to put forward another educated guess about the price we will have to pay to buy the best seats:
- We have to be honest. False promises will be promptly revealed on social networks and “trust” will be the most valuable asset of a brand.
- We have to respect consumers and invite them to be partners. We need them to be really interested in our success, inspired to buy our products because they know for sure that we work for them
- We need to be careful about consumer privacy. Never share their personal information, never access their “friend lists”, never interrupt their personal moments.
- Financial results will be a consequence of accomplishing the mission of being relevant for consumers and not the mission itself. Therefore each employee needs to be aware, prepared, committed and motivated to follow this mission.
The best seats in the future are not that expensive. Businesses just need to remember the basic principles of marketing – listen to what the customer wants and don’t exploit the relationship you build with them, just to meet a short-term financial target. If you want the best seat in the future, you will need to make sure your customers are there too.
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