Five Ways Technology is Challenging Marketers, for the Better
Today, not only does the line between technology and humanity continue to blur, but our reliance on “smart things” and connectivity continues to grow. The proliferation of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and 3-D printing has led to doomsday prepper headlines and articles that surmise how advances in technologies will squeeze out jobs and leave entire business sectors obsolete. While Gartner predicts that by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse, let’s not go running for the bunkers just yet. In fact, the evolution of technology leaves brands with the opportunity to leverage new tools in service of their customer, building more meaningful connections in the process. Below, I’ll look at how technology is driving the future of marketing and what will become important as we move into the next era of technological intelligence.
Empowered Brand Citizens Demand Transparency and Purpose
Transparency around business practices and supply chain is fast becoming a non-negotiable for brands. With more access to information that ever before, consumers can research pretty much anything and decide for themselves whether your message is true and authentic. Brand citizenship is fast moving from a function of the business to a marketing imperative that drives transactions and creates advantage in an increasingly competitive market – just look at Whole Foods, a company that has built its brand about serving the greater good, whether that’s promoting better food or fair trade. With this in mind, companies like INK client Enel Green Power North America that embed sustainability and corporate social responsibility into their business objectives will continue to lead the way in CSR best practices and be rewarded for doing so.
Big Data Drives Big Storytelling
Data-driven marketing without the support of human intuition has gotten a bad rap in recent years for producing generalized insights that fail to resonate with consumers. However, there’s a difference between data-driven marketing strategies for relationship-building and those that push an agenda in service of the brand. As we continue to leverage big data to learn more about our customers, classic storytelling will become even more important. Storylines that move people, that infom the listener and inspire action will be key to drawing closer to the brands they love. What will change is how we use data to tweak our messaging so that these stories resonate with our customers in a manner that matters to them.
VR Bring VIP Brand Events to the Masses
With consumers wanting to see and experience a brand on numerous touch points, words alone don’t cut it. We see this today on social media with posts that include visuals far outperforming their wordy counterparts. But what’s next? The sale of Oculus Rift to Facebook has catapulted Virtual Reality technology from a niche gaming technology to the mass market and numerous brands have implemented VR as part of their marketing strategies. For example, The North Face used VR to transport customers to Yosemite National Park as they shopped in retail stores; Hugo Boss used VR to bring their fashion shows, which were once an exclusive experience, to the mass market. While customers have been wary of VR experiences in the past it seems the tide is turning. A recent study by Greenlight VR showed that 71% of consumers surveyed said that brands that use VR seem “forward thinking and modern.”
3D Printing Changes Product Marketing Timelines
3D printers and the acceleration of product development, testing, and roll out mean that the product life cycle is vanishing. This has huge consequences for the role of marketing, which will become a core function of business operations. With a superior understanding of consumer needs, marketers will be imperative to the product development process and marketing campaigns and products will be developed in tandem, because short timelines demand it.
As these technologies and trends continue to develop, those that implement strategies in service of their customers and build brand stories that engage and excite their customers over the life of the product will be rewarded. With so many insights at the tips of our fingers, creating connections and developing a dialogue that matters to consumers has never been easier. As marketers, it’s our jobs to leverage that opportunity and meet our customers where it matters to them — wherever that may be.