Modern marketing is evolving at an exponential rate. And with every evolution, it becomes more distinct from old-school marketing, both digital and traditional.
Marketing used to be all about pushing products and services onto consumers through traditional media channels. The first digital marketers kept those same mindsets and approaches, simply transferring them to digital channels. But as digital technology advanced, marketing began a slow transformation.
Today, we have more data and insight than ever. We’re able to engage with customers as never before. And our tactics are becoming more sophisticated and customer-centric.
Even so, it’s easy to slip into old-school mindsets and tactics. But that’s a mistake. Understanding how marketing has changed over the years allows us to develop more effective strategies that attract and win our best customers.
In this article, we explore the evolution of marketing and look at the ways modern marketing can help you achieve your business goals.
A Few Marketing Fun Facts
Marketing looks almost nothing like it did a century ago — or even ten years ago, for that matter — largely because people’s expectations have changed, and our first priority is to meet people where they are.
But the changes we see today aren’t as disruptive as you might think. With every technological advance, marketers have found ways to update and refine what they do.
- Marketing has been around for centuries, with evidence of advertising found in ancient civilizations.
- The first newspaper advertisement was published in 1704 in the Boston News-Letter.
- The first radio advertisement was broadcasted in 1922.
- The first television advertisement was aired in 1941.
- The first email marketing campaign was sent in 1978.
- The first banner ad was displayed in 1994.
In the infographic above, you see a quick comparison of old and new marketing tactics and mindsets. Marketing used to be all about pushing people to our products and services. Today, it’s more about inviting people to connect through shared values.
Let’s look more closely at why things have changed so much, and why we must continue to adapt.
Old-School Marketing Methods: We’ve Moved on for a Reason
A mailbox full of direct mail promotions…
Hyped up ads that promise the moon…
Cold calls at dinner time…
None of this works anymore.
Consumers are far more sophisticated and skeptical than they used to be. In the past, marketers could rely on interruptive advertising to get their message across. Today, they have more control over what they see and hear. They can skip ads, block them, or ignore them.
As a result, traditional marketing methods like TV commercials, print ads, and billboards have become less effective.
Consumers want a more personalized experience. They want to feel like brands are speaking directly to them and addressing their specific needs and interests.
Traditional marketing methods are often too broad and generic to accomplish this. They don’t consider each consumer individually, which can lead to disengagement and disinterest.
But these methods aren’t just a turn-off to consumers. They fall short of our needs too.
Modern Marketing: Leveling the Playing Field
A century ago, a few big businesses held all the power. Small businesses and consumers simply couldn’t compete. But modern marketing has leveled the playing field.
We all have a voice now. A songwriter can launch a campaign against a major airline — then write a book about it and promote it on a YouTube video.
A small company can disrupt an established industry and change the game. Like Warby Parker, a small eyewear company that went head-to-head with the likes of Luxottica, owner of Ray-Ban and Oakley.
Warby Parker cut out the middleman and sold directly to consumers online. And with their strong social mission, donating a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased, they attracted a new type of consumer, who preferred to buy from a company that shared their values.
But more than giving us a voice, modern marketing has helped us engage more deeply with our customers. It helps us show up as living, breathing humans, not ice-cold corporations.
We can make our followers and customers feel seen and heard, because we can tailor our messages and offers to their individual interests, behaviors, and preferences. This creates a more personalized and relevant experience for customers, giving us higher engagement and more conversions.
Social Media Marketing: A New Mindset
Social media, in particular, has ushered in a new marketing mindset. We now understand the power of connecting with customers, of treating them as friends and advocates.
But it goes both ways. Social media has also changed what people want from us:
- They don’t want to hunt down our blog to learn more about us. They want us to share our content on the platforms where they already hang out.
- They want to know us better, because they care about our values and beliefs.
- They want to be able to ask questions and give us direct feedback. On social channels, it’s easy to do that.
- They like their ability to have real-time conversations with us. It feels more personal and transparent.
- They don’t want you to connect only to pitch them. Interruption tactics feel like spam.
And that’s just the beginning.
Social media is now a key component of most marketing programs. It supports organic and paid tactics, and allows you to reach a large and diverse audience. It helps you respond to customer inquiries, provide customer support, and get feedback on products and services.
And what we’ve learned is that consumers crave this level of engagement. Not only does it help you build brand loyalty and trust, it drives revenue and growth.
One of the key differences between traditional and modern marketing is the role of data.
Analytics are built into every platform we use today. With it, we can understand customer behavior, preferences, and needs. And by leveraging that data, we can create more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns that resonate with our audiences.
In particular, data allows us to be more customer focused, more individual focused, than ever before. And we’ve realized that customers want us to care about their experience with us.
According to PwC, 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. If they feel good when engaging with you, they’re more inclined to choose you over the alternative.
The Future of Marketing
Marketing will never stop evolving. Every day, we develop new technologies that have the potential to unlock growth on a bigger scale.
AI is becoming mainstream. It gives us faster, more accurate data and analysis. It’s also helping us save time creating high-value marketing assets and managing campaigns.
Just as digital capabilities transformed the modern marketing department, so will AI. It’s going to change the way we build teams and the roles of humans on those teams. It’s going to give us more insights into our customers’ wants and needs, helping us engage with them even better than we do today.
These changes may seem scary, but they don’t need to be. We’re experiencing another tectonic shift in the way we do marketing. Our job isn’t to resist, but to adapt.
Ultimately, we must be comfortable with change. We need to experiment with new ways of working — because every new tool and platform will help us innovate, grow, and gain a competitive edge.
We also need to keep a finger on the pulse of consumer expectations, because technology affects them as well. Already, people are impatient with old-school marketing tactics. That’s going to increase. Consumers will have more choices than ever before, and they’ll expect highly personalized, authentic interactions with brands.
But if you stay focused on relationship building, on putting your customers first, you’ll be able to create loyal brand advocates who will help spread the word about your products and services.
Modern marketers are agile and adaptable. We have to be.
The marketing landscape is constantly changing, and we’ve got to stay up-to-date. We must be willing to experiment and take risks. It’s the only way we’ll improve our results.
We need to continue to become more transparent, accessible, and human. Especially human.
As technology advances and takes over more of our grunt work, we need to lean into our humanity. This is the new differentiator. It will help you stand out and compete. And ultimately, it will make you more profitable.
Need help? At KA Media, we help you connect with, convert, and keep your valuable customers. Let us know where you’re struggling, and we’ll let you know if we can help.