When people ask me how the advertising business is doing, I usually respond by saying, “I used to be in advertising but I got over it.” To some it’s a snarky remark. Others find it somewhat amusing but, like all good comedy, it holds some truth.
Advertising has changed dramatically from the time I entered the business over two decades ago, much of it fueled by technology and changing consumer patterns and expectations. Today, I prefer to think of our business in the wider marketing domain mainly because that’s how our thinking has evolved. It’s no longer just about advertising. And to our delight (and the detriment of those who refuse to adapt) the options to market are greater than ever. So what has become of marketing?
It has become much more fragmented with many more channels that aren’t apparent at first blush. For a moment, let’s return to advertising. Traditionally, advertising uses different forms of media to communicate a brand’s message. It’s what I would now call media marketing — or using media to market a product or service. There are many other marketing channels that follow this line of thought:
- Social media marketing – using social media platforms
- Facebook marketing – using Facebook as an advertising medium because it’s become so large it’s its own platform
- Flipboard marketing – using the Flipboard app as a platform
- Payment marketing – using payment platforms to reach customers and buyers
- Event marketing – using event platforms
- Web marketing – using websites
- App marketing – using and marketing through mobile apps
- Admissions marketing – using ticket buyers to concerts or sporting events as a medium
- Location marketing – using retail or landmarks as marketing platforms
- Mobile marketing – using mobile phones and tablets as platforms
And the list goes on. Essentially, marketing today allows many platforms in which to reach customers. It’s both confusing and exciting at the same time and that’s why marketers must apply new frames of thinking to their efforts. For years, major media would have you think that they’re the only game in town and for years they would’ve been right. But we are in a brave new age when marketing platforms are created all the time, some unintentionally.
One of the most exciting and largest platforms you’ve perhaps not heard of is WeChat, a powerful Chinese-built social media platform that’s an amalgam of communications, community, commerce and more, all in one place. It’s likely the most powerful social media platform you’ll come across and coming soon to a mobile device near you (if not already).
New opportunities require new approaches and new ways of thinking, especially at a time when new platforms are created all the time. All these platforms can be sources of targeted eyeballs in places that may not be obvious but many of them hold as much sway, if not more, than the usual media suspects. As a marketer, if you open your eyes and seek new possibilities you may discover a whole new marketing world that goes beyond the obvious. After all, isn’t that what marketing is all about?