Have recently been trying to get through a backlog of videos from TED that seem interesting, one of the most thought provoking was Kevin Kelly talking about the next 5000 days of the web.
I have always found it very helpful to think of the relationship between marketing channels and the consumer’s purchase journey.
It has always made sense to me to think about a linear process that consumers might go through when encountering a new brand or product – from awareness to consideration building to conversion and ending with loyalty and advocacy. It also makes sense to me to overlay marketing channels onto that journey. Broadcast channels for raising awareness, narrowcast channels for developing deeper relationships with consumers and so on…..
However the implication with this helpful shorthand is that digital is just one such channel. A channel to be used for interactive forms of display advertising, or a channel for having a one to one conversation. But nevertheless a channel for marketing to consumers
In reality as Kelly discusses, the internet is less and less simply a channel, or a place that we go to or turn on at certain points in our lives and for certain things. As it permates every aspect of our lives and we move towards the concept of the “one machine” the internet becomes the electricity that connects all of our interactions, and “powers” and enriches all our devices with content and contextual services.
This has some potential implications:
1. It massively diminishes the potential of the internet as a marketing tool to think of it as a channel – rather it is a network that offers infinite means of creating contextual meaning and connections between consumers and between consumers and brands.
2. It disrupts the consumer journey which becomes a lot more fluid and less linear. For example I can become aware of a brand and an advocate of it in one step – when I join a facebook group for a new brand sent to me by a friend, or simultaneously be at every stage of the consumer journey with a brand with multiple products, because I can interact with that brand through the internet in different ways.
3. Internet is the most mass of all media. It’s ubiquity is unique, and so its ability to connect EVERYBODY all of the time….rather than the one on one interactive conception of early internet marketing. In comparison, TV, press even outdoor are narrowcast media.
In this world the notion of brands talking to consumers is hopelessly redundant, the exciting/scary thing is that successful brands just need to be genuinely interesting and create ways to talk with consumers, and the network does the rest…..