Traditional marketing is broken, and brands need to note new ways of doing business. This was the key message from Patrick Hanlon, founder and CEO of Thinktopia, at a recent event hosted by the Tiso Blackstar Group and Vega School.
“Traditional hierarchical marketing has changed, it’s flipped. Things are changing every three months, six months, 18 months and someone else comes along who wants to do a paradigm shift,” he explains.
Now, what consumers say, feel and think is much more important than what a brand says, feels or thinks. It’s all about bottom up marketing, top down marketing is over.
“After decades of being told what to think about products and services, via positioning, it’s over,” says Hanlon.
Five star ratings over advertising
Millions of dollars pumped into advertising is wasted because consumers no longer care, Hanlon reckons.
“In the new eco-system that’s been created, it’s not so much what we say about or products and services, but what people say about them,” he says. “No matter how great we think our new or existing product may be, what people say about it is really what counts. The five star rating is more important than advertising.”
Creating a community
Hanlon emphasises that eight out of 10 products fail, not because they are not great and brilliant, and not because they haven’t identified a gap in the market place, but “because they have not created from day one a storyline that surrounds that product or service that intrigues people and attracts them, and grows through essentially word of mouth”.
He says humans create belief systems around some things. “A brand is not a logo, an advertisement, a website, an app, or product design. It’s a community that’s been drawn together, attracted and believes the same thing,” he explains.
“The creation story is the foundation of getting to know someone or understanding something. Everyone and everything has a creation story,” says Hanlon.
He adds that if a brand doesn’t have an exciting creation story, then it needs to come up with one, or enlist people to create one, otherwise it will fail as a brand, and will simple be a product.
Word of mouth
Today, word of mouth trumps traditional advertising.
“We used to say that word of mouth is the best form of advertising. That is a bit of a snarky statement, because we knew damn well that nobody could measure the conversation at the watercooler,’ Hanlon comments. “Today those conversations are online and we can scrape data and do a sentiment analysis.”
“It’s all about building meaningful relationships in a social world that gain stickiness over time as they are positive,” he adds.
Asked about the balance between traditional media and digital/social media for marketing, Hanlon says he believes the world is much more complicated now.
“Social media is not evil. It’s only problematic in the sense that it was so much simpler with traditional media where you did a 30-second television spot, three ads with magazine spreads, a radio campaign and outdoor. That would cover the waterfront, you’d throw it on and wait for sales figures to go up or down. It was a much simpler world.
“Today you have to do not only that but be on all the different social media feeds and your story has to be consistent throughout them and the output stream has to be continuous.”
The life-span of CMOs
Another change Hanlon has observed is the life-span of chief marketing officers at brands. “It used to be that if you were a CMO at an organisation you could last 10, 20 years. In today’s world, if you meet someone who’s been there 13 months, they’re an old-timer,” he says.
Hanlon also advised that the age of CMOs going to golf games and merely filing quarterly reports is over, as they need to be constantly monitoring the brand every hour of every day.
Here are some pictures from the event:
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