Mals Musing: The Death of Advertising

Is advertising the marketers dream it used to be?

We get to communicate the distinct and compelling characteristics of our brands to the masses in an unrivalled cost-effective manner. For decades, marketers have struggled to enlarge the perception of their role beyond advertisement. For many, advertising is just another name for marketing.

However, ongoing changes in our environment might have solved that problem for us, albeit at the expense of creating a new one. Advertising as we know it is dead. Moving forward, genuine differentiation and value creation will be more closely connected. That means the VALUE question is becoming increasingly louder!

A significant part of this is driven by decades of broken promises, which have slowly eroded and devalued the power of advertising. Every time customers received products/services that did not live up to the expectation raised by the communication, we chipped away at the power and effectiveness of advertising.

If we lose trust, then every advertisement is judged through cynical spectacles, thus significantly reducing its effectiveness. Further complication is exerted by the fragmentation of media and the growth of the Internet. There are more messages being delivered than at any other time in history. And reaching our desired target audiences precisely and with clarity is difficult and expensive.

The explosion of social media has created a phenomenon that will change the face of advertising forever. This, along with Twitter, LinkedIn and the growth of the Internet as a tool, ultimately means we are all advertisers. Therefore, when we get it righta la Susan Boyleit can lead to incredible growth and exposure. Likewise, when we get it wrong it can be equally damaging.

The real challenge for us is that it is more difficult to manage or manipulate messages, and the influx of amateur advertisers (your customers) means that we have a better perspective on the true value of products/services today than we ever did. If the scenarios above have not convinced you yet of a shift, then perhaps the success of comparison sites might add weight to the argument. It is clear customers do not trust us, and they are going elsewhere to get the truth.

It is famously said that all marketers are liars. Our ability to get away with expansion, extension, and even slight distortions of the truth is under scrutiny.

Imagine this scenario. A Doctor needs to choose between product A or B. Based on advertising and messages, product A appears to be the better option. However, a few other factors come into play; opinions on doctors social media network are negative about product A and a few doctors have written negative comments about their experiences.

It is worth pointing out that the Product A company website is neat, tidy and presents a compelling case supported by clinical evidence. What do you think the doctor will do? The reality is that this is no different from when we have to choose a hotel for our vacation. What drives our decision company website or testimonials of real customers who have actually experienced the product?

Technology has significantly increased the ability of customers across the world to talk to each other and share experiences. The cumulative effects of this are that, as marketers, our emphasis needs to move from advertising to ensuring we are creating and delivering value.

The role of communication in achieving market differentiation is diminishing by the day. For those focused on and passionate about value creation and delivery, halleluiah! For the rest, you are about to be found out.

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