21st Century Marketing

August 1, 2015

With the advent and integration of the Internet and wireless communication in our world, human evolution is on the far side of a significant shift. Presently, those of us born before the Internet are known as “Digital Immigrants,” while those of us born into a world of accessible digital and mobile technologies are known as “Digital Natives.” These terms were coined by noted education expert Marc Prensky, and refer to those of us who have been adding technology into our lives, like an after-market item (“Digital Immigrants”) and those who know a world of nothing but technological integration from their earliest days of memory (“Digital Natives”). In just a few years, there will be no Digital Immigrants left in America (barring luddite populations), and the world is not far behind.

This is significant to marketers (and everyone else) because of the:

  • Manner in which messages are now delivered (fast, digital, social media).
  • The fact that technology platforms are now part of the interactive communication experience, not just the devices for information conveyance.
  • Analytics are readily available

First, it is important for marketers to understand the current and emerging technologies that are available so that they can understand the means by which they should share their or their clients’ messages. In the old days, your choice was newspapers, magazines, radio, television, mail, and billboards, etc. Today, you’ve got all those, plus: social media, social media ads, pay-per-click ads, online video, email campaigns, Twitter, texting, search engine optimization (SEO), Youtube pre-roll, and on and on and on. It’s easy to get lost in the forest of digital offerings, but a marketer needs to understand each platform’s relevance and whether it’s right for their messaging strategy.

Along with that, a significant factor that differentiates the 21st century marketing/consumer relationship from the 20th century is, not just the use of technology as a conveyance for messaging, but the fact that the technology itself is now part of the overall interactive experience. 21st century technology is not just about collecting or seeing information, it is about creating and sharing content. The recently successful Ice Bucket Challenge was a perfect example; people were able to use their smart phones to create content and post it to social media, sharing it with the world. This is a hallmark of Digital Native communication; technology is changing the way in which we interact and choose to communicate. More and more, as society caters to Digital Natives, it’s important for marketers to embrace the manner in which these consumers view and use technology. As some experts declare, Digital Natives see technology as an extension of their own nervous systems.

Finally, one of the key factors that technology introduces into the equation is analytics. Not only are we able to see how many people visited our website, or called our special tracking number, but we can actually use “data mining” services to provide us with information on exactly where our target customers live, when they are online, what sites they visit, etc. This information allows us to seriously differentiate our audience and apply marketing resources exactly where we think they should go. For many businesses, long gone are the days of undifferentiated “mass” marketing through newspaper and radio ads; today businesses are able to segment their audiences and deliver custom, interactive messages through 21st century platforms. The ability to deliver messages to niche markets and use the same technology to monitor results makes technology a real game-changer for marketing.

So, if you struggle to keep up with all the emerging platforms and rules of technological engagement, take solace in the fact that you are not alone. There are a lot of apps out there. But, it is up to us, as professional marketers, to make sure that we learn and embrace the tools in front of us. Take your time, do some reading, research, and experimentation, and soon you will find that the tools of the 21st century will make a big difference in your work and your life. The world is changing, don’t get caught behind.

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