Archive for November, 2008

What's new in marketing–and 7 things you can't forget

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

“There’s nothing new under the sun.” We’ve all heard this quote, perhaps uttered by a cynic about some new idea. Attributed to Ambrose Bierce, here’s the full original:

“There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” – Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary (1842 – 1914)

Obviously, he wasn’t implying that our creative efforts are doomed. But even as new technologies seem to be constantly surprising us–and demanding complex new ways of measuring ROI–that saying remains true in business. As long as human beings think and make decisions the same ways they always have, the fundamentals of marketing and advertising remain the same, no matter what forms you use to serve them up.

There are certainly a few new twists in targeting, though.

One of the unique issues facing American marketers today is shifting demographics. As technology and the Internet expand our ability to target ever-narrower audience segments, we need to research these segments carefully. For some industries, that might mean ferreting out demographics like marital status. Fifty-one percent of women in America today are single–a dramatic change in 30 years in the landscape of our society. Singles tend to view the world a bit differently than married people, and marketers who want their business will do well to take that into consideration when crafting their messages.**

Racial identity is another arena that complicates U.S. marketing today. Reaching audiences with a different language besides English means paying attention not just to language but also to cultural norms. And it’s not always easy to get the demographic facts. One study indicates that in North Carolina, 118,000 new-birth mothers in 2002 recorded their children’s race in 600 different ways. The National Center for Health Statistics collapsed all those into 10 standard race categories, e.g., by reclassifying “other” as “white.” The reality is that ethnic and racial diversity continues to grow in the U.S. And while the day may come when racial identity will no longer be a major way of segmenting audiences, as of today it is still a meaningful demographic–and a sound basis for creative segmenting.

Green thinking offers another opportunity to target companies and individuals with the environmentally-conscious mindset–and the number of those companies is growing. Mega-giant General Electric recently won an award for its green-marketing campaign.

Even while this goes on, the basic elements of marketing and advertising have always been the same: words, images, and sounds. Some of the most effective message-carriers today have evolved over the last 10 years: web content, online articles, e-newsletters, and blogs.

New formats such as video and mobile marketing are growing as vehicles for your marketing messages, especially to younger folks. Your goal remains the same: create customers and retain their business over time. And the objectives you must achieve in order to meet that goal haven’t changed:

  1. Capture your reader’s/listener’s/viewer’s attention.
  2. Describe a solution to something important to them.
  3. Create trust–and convince them of the value of your solution.
  4. Support your position with client testimonials and/or celebrity endorsements (Michael Jordan/NIKE). Riskier but effective if well done, brand yourself with a quirky character (GEICO’s Brit-humor-inspired gecko).
  5. Provide an incentive and a deadline to take action.
  6. Give prompt, courteous service.
  7. Keep in touch with value-add content.

So yes, you have new vehicles and new ways of segmenting your audiences. But the basics remain the same: creative words and images that express your True Voice and meet your marketing objectives in fresh and powerful ways.


P.S. Blogging continues to grow as an effective tool for connecting with prospects and clients. If you’re interested in starting one, email or call me for a free consultation on how it might work for your company. Cleveland office: 216.472.8502. Chicago office: 773.292.3294.

By the way, don’t forget to vote!

** All single people–male and female–tend to have less conservative views. Interestingly, 60% of America’s 93 million unmarried people support Barack Obama according to a Gallup poll. Here’s more on the subject of singlism by Psychology Today writer Bella DePaulo, PhD.