Take yourself back 15 years. How many of you could have predicted that near everyone you know would be connected to you on the Web – sharing pictures of their kids, their parties, blogs they wrote, birthday wishes. In 1995, the term “social” was generally equated with ones ability to interact in person (e.g. she’s a social butterfly!). Today, that term better defines a marketing channel, or simply your ability to interact with people online. You’re not on Facebook? Then, you’re not social.
Now, most reading this are connected people. Marketers. Technologists. You work in the space; so even if you don’t have all the gadgets, you know what they are. Certainly, the average person outside of my industry wouldn’t be able to answer, “What do you think of Rockmelt?” But I still argue that the average person is more connected and ready for technology-driven marketing than ever.
Here we are: a society of people tethered to our phones, empty without our computers. Mostly, happily. We love our connected lives. We crave interactivity through technology. We want the things we love to be digitally accessible. The average person on the street is connected in much the same way we marketers are – as buyers of things, as consumers of entertainment and media.
At Band Digital, we’re talking a lot about immersive experiences. By that we mean, in the digital space nobody is satisfied with a flat experience – one that chains them to the computer or doesn’t let them take the wheel. It’s why we click furiously passed pre-roll, ignore banner ads and never stay long on a brand website. It’s also why social does so well – it’s where people engage, start and extend dialogues and drop in and out where they please. “Traditional” marketing doesn’t let you do this. And, by the way, that can also apply to many forms of digital marketing today.
Still, a gut reaction by many might be that to react firmly to this as marketers is premature. Nope. The market is ready for digitally-driven and immersive experiences now. Need proof?
- Reach out and touch someone: right now on your TV. Face-to-face video conferencing has made it to the home (Umi by Cisco).
- People want what they want when they want it, sans USPS. Netflix started a streaming-only pricing package (Ahem. 20% of broadband usage at peak hours is from Netflix streaming in North America).
- You can – and thousands of people do – buy shoes on their phones. Steve Madden posted half-million dollars in mcommerce sales in 6 months.
- 3D has left the theatre. You can buy a 3D TV at Sam’s Club.
- Talk to P!nk, tell Meijer what you think. You can literally join a conversation with your favorite TV show, band and brands on Facebook. (shameless plug: Meijer=client)
- Which ad do you want, this one or that one? How about not at all? YouTube is introducing new ads that let people choose from three or SKIP the ad all together.
- Fishing where the fish are. Sears is selling gift cards … on Facebook.
So what’s a marketer to do? Certainly, digitally focused behavioral research. That’s a necessary guide to meeting needs and interests. Pair that with data that abounds about customer buying behavior within large brand organizations and real magic can happen. Suddenly marketing is solving problems, creating easier, smarter connections and reaching people where they should, not where last year’s budget dictates.
And channel your inner-geek. There is NOW and there is LATER. How do you interact, communicate, shop and discover now? How do you wish you could now? What about later? Be the change that turns marketing into a part of people’s lives, not a barrier to it.