Advertising and sales promotion were dedicated to pushing the recipients of messages toward the end point of making a purchase. They relied on message optimization technologies such as focus groups, surveys, copy testing (using methods borrowed from statisticians, which were honed to a shiny luster by companies like ASI) and quaint analog stuff like that to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their efforts.
The industry professed the unassailable supremacy of “the big idea” for driving brand affinity and even sales volume with a dollop of market share on top. Everybody enjoyed hanging on set in high-backed chairs rubbing elbows with celebs while nibbling on craft service catering, so when “new media” came around it was summarily dismissed if not relegated to the margins of the “optimized” media mix.
For advertisers who couldn’t quite arrive at a message that pushed all the right buttons for that “magic” effect on their brand measurements, they’d rely on pushing more better, more harder and more more more. Pushy push push push. And it worked … well enough to keep everybody’s jobs intact for decades.
So what in heck happened?!
Well, for one thing the Internet came around and changed how everybody goes about the mundane tasks of everyday life. Sure, you don’t need me to yammer on about that when Seth Godin and many more are doing a far better job than I.
The key beyond all that isn’t in what brands say. It’s what they do. It’s not about the message anymore. Though it’s still very much about the brand story. But now it’s about how the brand story inhabits the world in which people are going about the mundane tasks of everyday life.
Trying to push people through a funnel. Or trying to push people from “unaware” to “activated” to “purchase” is terribly inefficient and awfully expensive. Especially now that people’s lives have changed. Read Joe Burton’s ebook, “Understanding the Economics of Digital Compared to Traditional Advertising and Media Services.”
Yes, yes, yes … “the consumer’s in charge.” But that’s not a rallying cry for neo-Naderistas. It’s simply an observation about how people live their lives. With our consumer empowerment comes a measure of caveat emptor within the ecosystem of marketing communications that heretofore didn’t exist.
Cue Seth Godin. Read Permission Marketing circa 1999. It’s genius. He gave it away free for years, but the links have long since evaporated. Too bad. Buy it now. Really, it’s still completely valid 11 years later.
So, the nature of what advertising campaigns actually do — the tasks they perform and the results thereto — has equally and inexorably changed as well. As you’ve seen with the Consumer Decision Journey, people live life in an asynchronous cloud of activities that don’t fit into any funnel.
Advertising needs to pull the consumer magnetically into areas, spaces and/or spheres of influence in which the brand promise is relevant, the brand story is worth sharing and brand benefits offer the greatest usefulness. Pull consumers toward the brand.
Push is dead. Pull is a go.
How this all works is coming soon. I’ll write about social objects and “social influence” as magnetic points in the Consumer Decision Journey. And I’ll discuss how the structure of integrated campaigns needs to support the brand story, promise and benefits to persuade consumers to pull themselves toward these magnetic points.
Pull consumers toward the brand. Please quote me on that one.