In a previous post, we looked at the evolution of marketing from Marketing 1.0 to Marketing 3.0. But like everything else organic, marketing never stops changing. Are you ready for Marketing 4.0?
The term Marketing 3.0 was first coined by Philip Kotler in his book Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit. Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital was released in November 2016. The idea of Marketing 3.0 was that marketing messages are no longer going out to passive buyers. They are going out to interactive ones connected by socio-political causes and to each other. In Marketing 3.0, companies position their products, not just on features and benefits, but on how they impact their minds and spirits. Marketing 4.0 takes this deeper. It seeks to understand and adapt to consumers’ deeply interconnected digital worlds in which consumers trust and rely more on each other than they on do traditional brand messaging.
But Marketing 4.0 isn’t just about digital. Kotler emphasizes that in today’s hyper-connected environment, brands need to combine both online and offline interaction. “In the digital economy, digital interaction alone is not sufficient,” he writes. In fact, in an increasingly online world, offline touch represents a strong differentiation. “There is a tendency for people to predict that everything will be online in the future,” he says. “That would be a mistake.”
In other words, Marketing 4.0 isn’t about channels. It’s about connectivity. How do you, as a marketer, connect with consumers in this environment?
Understand that customers are more connected to each other than brands.
When it comes to finding and choosing products that matter to them, consumers are more likely to turn to friends and family, ratings, and online and offline reviews than traditional marketing channels. Consequently, you have to be a brand that people talk about, share with others, and are willing to become advocates for.
You must also connect with consumers in the spaces where they connect with each other—Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook Live, Pinterest, and other social channels. Interrupt their worlds with direct mail, out of home, and other traditional channels, but also make yourself part of their everyday conversation.
Focus on experience.
Consumers do not focus on, “What does the product do?” They focus on, “How does the product make me feel? Does it represent my values and who I am?” To this end, experience is huge. This is how companies like Sephora compete with retail giants like Amazon. They provide experiences that make the brand memorable and that they want to share with others. In Sephora’s case, they pamper store visitors with the ability to try on cosmetics, be styled by hair care professionals, and try on fragrances. Marketing 4.0 brands like Sephora interact with consumers on an emotional and experiential level.
Kotler points out that while people are living in a hyperconnected world, they tend to be disconnected in the temporal space. This is one reason why we crave and share experience over facts and figures. As a society, we are more urban than rural. Every day, we interact with a sea of humanity, but we know very few of them. Consumers have a hunger for intimacy. Brands that are authentic and real stand out. “Customers treat companies as friends, making them an intimate part of their lifestyles,” Kotler told The Marketing Book Podcast. “Brands need to behave more like humans — approachable and likeable.”
Brands also need to be transparent and authentic. This means admitting your flaws and not exaggerating or over-promising. Selling a fantasy that doesn’t match with reality might work in the short term, but consumers catch on very quickly. That short-term, inauthentic approach won’t win you long-term advocates critical to success. Authenticity is critical to establishing trust and becoming a brand that customers will not only purchase but become advocates for.
Speak to latest anxieties and desires.
The internet of things puts a world of analysis at marketers’ fingertips. Tap into your data streams, develop customer personas, and use content, both online and offline, to address consumers’ deepest needs.
Know the customer journey.
The more you understand the customer journey—how consumers go from being aware of your product to selecting your brand and making the decision to purchase—the more you can identify the gaps in the sales funnel and fix them. This, again, requires deep understanding of who your customers are, what makes them tick, how they make their purchase decisions, and what (and more importantly, who) influences them to do so.
The takeaway? In the Marketing 4.0 world, you cannot rely on traditional techniques alone. You need to understand how consumers connect with brands and with one another, then use data, hyper connectivity, and smart strategies to find them, win them, and turn them into brand advocates.
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