Is Everything Old New Again?

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OK, it’s 2012 and like a caterpillar, it seems, marketing is completing its metamorphosis. But really, it’s only the tactics that have changed. At least in my view. We’ve talked a lot about this. Back in 2009, we addressed this subject,

Technology may have changed, bringing us blogs and social media, but people haven’t changed since we came out of the trees and onto the African plains. Marketers need to remember that no matter what vehicle you are using to deliver your message, you should set strategy first, then tightly define your audience. It is, after all, the people that matter most in the marketing equation. Once you clearly understand your target audience, the message almost crafts itself. That hasn’t changed and never will. End of sermon.

But what do others in the field think? I asked a few. Let’s check in with them.

According to Scott Hepburn of Media Emerging,

The fundamentals remain the same, but there are more plays in the playbook. Will you try to use every play, or will you focus on soundly executing a handful of effective plays? I say focus on fundamentals and a few key plays, then expand.

Kathy Rowan of Rowan Communications says,

The essence of effective communications – telling your story and building goodwill through relationships – remains the same.  Now, however, we have a toolbox filled with new equipment and devices that  allows us to hammer home messages and construct meaningful relationships via social media.   The gates are open; we are not constrained by traditional gatekeepers of the communications channels.

Says Jason Falls – author, speaker and CEO of Social Media Explorer,

I don’t think marketing has really changed … yet. While there are some one-off examples out there, most companies are just doing social for social’s sake, checking off a task list and looking for the easy button. Few are really taking social technologies and the shifting consumer habits to heart … and they’re feeling the pinch as a result. But I’m optimistic that more and more companies will see how holistic adjustment to the market — that which companies like Dell and Southwest Airlines have led us into — and really begin to evolve. I hope it happens sooner than later, but beating traditional thinking out of marketers takes a while.

Nathan Richie, who heads up NR Creative Group, says,

 I believe when the tide subsides it is just about how to integrate new tools in the toolbox. Albeit a more human approach. We’re more sensitive to “in your face” vs the softer “Oprah” touch. People want to feel warm and fuzzy first it seems.

Bob Taylor from Social Wave weighs in,

In my opinion, marketing has not systematically “changed”, in fact it would be smug of us to think that somehow in 2011/12 we changed our historical, fundamental marketing rules & realities. We are (by virtue of changing/evolving technology) given new tactical tools to use in our marketing efforts. But the core audiences for the tools are fickle & scattered just as the radio listeners, and tv viewers were at the beginning of their proliferation. Brands and marketers still need to build trust, gain market share, and promote their goods and services. Consumers are still influenced by the messaging, and the word of mouth affinities of others within their communities. With social media we may be able to have two-way engagement like never before, and some new consumers may demand it, but traditional service, quality, and trust, are just as important today as ever-no matter the delivery.  None of these things have changed.

An aside however, is the change that is required by companies to react to the new tactics/tools. For instance, never before have we had the transparency and velocity of reaction as we do in social media and digital marketing. The recent Lowe’s, Chapstick, etc., dust ups show us that our new tools have removed the barriers between projected image and perceived image. Instant public reaction and how it is dealt with are mixing PR, Marketing, and perhaps Legal, like never before. But if you think about it, back in the small town public square, this kind of dust up (albeit a smaller square) was very possible. So new? Not so much.

So, what’s your view on this topic? Let us know in the comment section below. Or, drop me an email at harry at Look forward to hearing from you.



About the Author

Harry Hoover
Harry Hoover is a partner in My Creative Team, the agency that makes Fortune 1000 clients look good. His communications career spans 35 years and runs the gamut from print and broadcast journalism, government and corporate communications to advertising and public relations agencies. He is the author of Born Creative: Free Your Mind, Free Yourself and Moving to Charlotte: The Un-Tourist Guide.

2 Comments on "Is Everything Old New Again?"

  1. I agree with Kathy Rowan – the fundamentals of marketing remains the same. 

    There might be more focus on community outreach through different / new mediums (mobile, Google+, etc.) but we still have to choose the right tool for the job.

    We have to *connect* with our clients / prospects now more than ever!

  2. Thanks for your comments, William. How are you connecting these days?

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