Whilst the Internet has had a relatively short space of time in which to partake in this, it has been the driving force in changing the dynamic between business and consumer, product and audience.
And whist the push marketing that we discuss below does, of course, still widely occur, the ability that the Internet grants to establish relationships with customers means that even traditional media has seen a shift in the dynamic of marketing.
As the Internet steadily influenced the openness of companies to the public, so it has developed a need for businesses to embrace this lack of a wall and use it to their advantage. This piece can be related to many articles around brand community and customer engagement, but will focus primarily on the significant shift from pitches or push marketing, to then fostering of relationships to entice an audience to partake of one’s product.
What marketing used to be
In a previous time, marketing was very much push focused, meaning that a business had a product and needed to tell the audience about that product. This developed into additional techniques pushing that audience to go and buy the advertised commodity. This certainly had benefits.
For one, the business had an opportunity for a one-way dialogue: get our message across and all the audience can do is listen. Secondly, save loose legislation around false advertising, there was very little keeping advertisers to strict lines, meaning a business/product could be shown in almost any light. That roof is made of cardboard? Sure, but look how easy it is to lift. That drink tastes horrible? Sure, but everyone’s drinking it because it gives you energy.
Better examples exist I’m sure, but you get what we mean!
How consumers’ perceptions have changed
The Internet has had a drastic effect on the above. In the short while this extensive and available knowledge base has been in operation, we’ve seen people become more informed and more aware. Push marketing that fails to match product knowledge with honesty and engagement for their audience quickly gets left behind.
What marketers have quickly had to realise is that with so much available information – including reviews from fellow consumers – the perception that potential customers hold has changed from ‘They need to sell it to me’ to ‘If I like it I’ll buy it, but I’ll do some research first.’
What this means for online marketing
So we’ve mentioned a few times above ideas like Brand Community and Consumer Engagement, and the exciting part of these sort of marketing philosophies is not only how the Internet has driven these to the fore, but how it has, at the same time, enabled businesses to takes control of the phenomenon to greater effect through the very source of original frustration – public interaction.
We’ve seen over the past few years that companies (bigger corporations in particular) have wholly embraced – quite successfully in many cases – this ‘relationship movement’. A few that spring to mind include Nike, Coca Cola and Barclays. Their campaigns have started being inclusive of the end audience, often driving them to follow the advert into a different area (such as from TV into the online sphere) to interact with the company and fellow consumers from there.
We’re running out of space to continue talking about this! However we need to give a quick shout out to the important part Social Media has played in this, with Instagram a major player in building brand communities.
Many examples exist for you to look at, and if you’re thinking of using this to your advantage we encourage you to dig deeper, see how companies are making the most of this new digital marketing world.