Over the last month or two, I’ve had numerous conversations with marketers in traditional (i.e., non-technology) industries about their Web-based and social-media strategies. In fact, I talked about the challenges of so-called ‘buzz campaigns’ and Web micro sites in a recent blog post on Internet marketing sustainability. Let me sum up the challenge that has surfaced in all of those conversations: Many marketing leaders are excited about new marketing communication channels; however, they are approaching these new mediums with the same advertising/one-way-communication mindset that seems to pervade too much of the marketing communication world.
That’s why I was impressed with a very engaging Opinion-page piece by Silicon Valley marketing executive Tom Hayes and ABC News “Silicon Insider” columnist Michael S. Malone, titled “Marketing in the World of the Web,” in The Wall Street Journal this past Saturday. Hayes and Malone argue that marketing participation on the modern Web and in social media platforms requires a new marketing mindset. “A very different set of tools, concepts and practices is needed,” noted the two. “Call it Marketing 3.0.”
What do they mean by this?
Their point gets to the heart of what is going on in the world of brands and marketing today — a critical point that too often gets missed.
A revolution is coming!
The channels through which we market are evolving and changing, but that’s not the only thing that is changing (or that must change). How we market is changing. In many ways, new technology mediums such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are less about new channels than they are a reflection of how the nature of marketing — facilitated by technology that empowers the user — is returning to the age-old concept of personal brand relationships and of a new reality of brand communities. This re-invention is moving us from a top-down strategy perpetuated by Mad Men to a bottoms-up approach where individuals and their insights and preferences once again matter.
In an unrelated (but very related) piece on her Conversation Agent blog, the day before the Hayes and Malone piece appeared, Valeria Maltoni wrote, “Social media is about building relationships – starting with your customers, business partners, influencers and their networks, communities of practice, fans and critics, etc. It’s not like the shotgun approach to marketing, it’s like the focused, appropriate conversation with those who wish to talk with you. In some cases they already are telling you what you want to know, if you are listening.”
That is why the direction in which we’re going, in many ways, is not new, it’s just a return to the equilibrium state of individuals and communities mattering to our brands and marketing efforts. “Brute force marketing won’t work inside social networks,” argue Hayes and Malone. “The best online marketing now takes place among people who know and trust each other.” Now, we as marketers need to figure out how to once again participate in such a state.
What are the keys to Marketing 3.0?
Hayes and Malone offer some great insights into how to do this. They offer five major themes for thinking about Marketing 3.0:
> From loyalty to attention: “Before you can win consumer loyalty, you have to capture and reward consumer attention. Old propositions — network television’s tired offer of 22 minutes of canned sitcoms in exchange for eight minutes of untargeted commercials — won’t cut it. Consumers are demanding a better deal.”
> From crowds to clouds: “Once you get that attention — once you generate heavy traffic to your site, gather a large league of ‘friends’ on MySpace, or spawn a dedicated following on Twitter — how do you monetize the crowd? / Smart brands are turning their crowds into ‘clouds’: organic, self-forming and often self-governing communities of interest. Companies … use their clouds as feedback loops to get better faster by obtaining good, timely, often brutally honest customer insights.” This is an interesting point and is very much in line with the concept of ‘organic marketing’ Valeria Maltoni talked about a few weeks ago.
> From places to spaces: “Consumers are increasingly organizing themselves into new communities … myriad idiosyncratic slices of narrow, passionate interest … With this shift toward self-organization by consumers, national advertising campaigns as we know them will increasingly become a waste of time and money for many companies.”
> From memes to bemes: “In the Age of Broadcast, good advertising could occasionally manufacture memes of tremendous social impact. … If you can’t recall an irresistible or effective turn of phrase of late, it’s because it is exceedingly difficult to spread a meme in today’s fragmented media environment. Marketing 3.0 is now the science of devising and managing … bemes. Bemes are sent by members of social communities to each other and typically contain a reward or exclusive offer, which, when redeemed, also results in a reward coupon for the sender.” Hayes and Malone believe this is the key incentive for propagating future, effective ‘viral’ campaigns.
> From silos to simultaneity: “Too many retailers today persist in believing that online shopping is merely a virtual extension of real world shopping. That is a big mistake. / Rather, online and offline need to coexist, and we need to rethink how they relate.”
Hayes and Malone end their piece by asserting, “All of this suggests that Marketing 3.0 is not only different from its predecessors, but actively undermines them. If your marketing program fails to adapt to this new world, it won’t just become irrelevant — it will actually work against you.”
Is this new paradigm of Marketing 3.0 scalable?
I don’t want to end this piece without acknowledging the giant ‘elephant’ in the room when we talk about Marketing 3.0. Is it scalable?
This is the major strategic challenge that marketing thought leader Beth Harte recently called out in a piece titled “Is Social Media Scalable?” on her The Harte of Marketing blog (related to a blog post by Chris Brogan). “… [T]ouching or engaging in every conversation that occurs across the Internet would be virtually impossible and a full-time job,” writes Harte. “… [W]hat does this mean for businesses? If they are enticed to join the on-line conversation (social) via Web 2.0 tools (media), what happens when they can no longer provide that two-way conversation…the reason behind why they got involved in the first place?” Harte believes “[t]wo-way conversations are not scalable,” but that’s not to suggest that companies should not aspire to achieve Marketing 3.0 interactions. (In fact, her post has many great comments from marketers and social-media gurus exploring the challenge of scalability.)
Our challenge as marketers is to find ways to engage Marketing 3.0 techniques … while also making them scalable.
What’s next? What do you think?
As always, this dialogue is just beginning.
- What are your own perspectives on this marketing revolution?
- How are you embracing Marketing 3.0 in your own Internet marketing efforts?
- How can we build Marketing 3.0 mechanisms that are scalable?