There’s no question that the Internet, social media, and digital technologies have changed the business landscape and the manner in which it operates. From the way business communicates with – and advertises to – consumers to how it conducts market research, and from the manner in which it hires new employees to how those employees are managed, today’s business blueprint is significantly different that it was just 15 years ago.
But is change always a good thing? The Internet has provided smaller businesses the opportunity to compete with larger brands and has certainly provided a more direct and meaningful exchange with a business’s audience. But are we becoming too focused on the technology of the day? Are we forgetting the basics of marketing?
Creativity Often Hindered by Technology
Gannon Jones, the head of brand marketing at MillerCoors, offered this warning: “Technology can act as a barrier to creativity and will never replace great ideas. As reported by Marketing Magazine, Jones, in speaking to a group of business executives, stated that, “Technology is actually starting to get in the way of creativity. It’s causing us as marketers to fixate on the technology and the data.”
Here at Sensei, we’ve seen customers follow either Big Data or social media viral trends only to be questioned by their CFOs when the results have to be justified. Be it amassing vast amounts of consumer data or attempting to repurpose the Ice Bucket Challenge model, too many marketing teams are fixated on technology and social media trends and forgetting what makes marketing truly work.
We know that online reviews on sites like Yelp and Google can have a positive effect on sales but businesses are resorting to buying positive reviews instead of earning them. Marketers are keen to surf the Internet for clues on optimizing their search engine results and forget that greater organic traffic can be earned by simply delivering creative, informative, and useful content to consumers. Marketers are quick to push us to build Facebook pages for their businesses without first understanding if their consumers want to engage with them on the social media network or if their purchase decisions may be influenced by their presence on that site.
Recently, we encountered a business whose head of social media was a statistician, not a marketer. Not that we have anything against statisticians; they’re an important part of the marketing team. However, ideas driven by numbers and stats often fail to inspire long-term attention from consumers and less often drive any form of real innovation.
Mr. Jones suggested that the basis of effective marketing is content, not technology, but I think that’s an oversimplification. Content can be driven by technology and consumer data as much as it can from innovative ideas crafted by artistic directors. Marketing success is not found in content but in knowing what type of content sways the purchase decision of consumers.
Consumer Data vs. Consumer Engagement
“What tends to happen and what we have seen in recent years, is that there’s a fundamental disconnect in the way business leaders think about data, and how technology leaders think about it,” suggests business analyst Fatemah Khatibloo in an interview with CMO. “We see lots of lost opportunities. There has been a focus on big data projects and platforms and solutions by technology teams, or vendors are wooing marketing leaders, but they’re not so good at solving business problems. Business and technology are not working together towards a common purpose, which is using that data for customer engagement. We see lots of lost opportunities. There has been a focus on big data projects and platforms and solutions by technology teams, or vendors are wooing marketing leaders, but they’re not so good at solving business problems. Business and technology are not working together towards a common purpose, which is using that data for customer engagement.”
In our push to use technology to gain a larger market share and lower costs, we’ve begun to rely too heavily on technology and marketing automation. Sharing a story from his past experience while employed by Kraft Foods, Mr. Jones referenced the “reams of [consumer] data” that Kraft had collected, which it failed to convert into true business opportunities.
What Kraft needed to know was simple: Did its consumers have children and was the process of cooking an enjoyable experience or not? Knowing the answer to these two questions was central to understanding what motivated purchase decisions but the data scientists collected so much information that answering these simple questions was nearly impossible. Technology and business intelligence – not always good partners.
Is the growing reliance on technology creating a generation of ineffective or less creative marketers?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego