The end of marketing? How we can revive it for the digital age

Traditional mass marketing is on its way out. In this on-demand era of extreme personalisation, marketers that want to survive have to adapt to the demands of this digital age.

The end of marketing? How we can revive it for the digital age

Traditional mass marketing is on its way out. In this on-demand era of extreme personalisation, marketers that want to survive have to adapt to the demands of this digital age. That means taking a more one-to-one, personal approach to social media marketing, and building an engaged community organically.

While this approach may not seem as appealing as being able to blast out content that reaches thousands or even millions of people, taking a more personalised approach can still yield strong results. Marketers just have to adjust their expectations and adapt a new mindset.

Everyone has influence

Engaging with 10 people on social media may not sound as great as getting 1,000 likes on a post, but think about that scenario in real life. What’s more valuable, speaking at a conference with a room full of 1,000 disinterested people, or holding a brand advocacy workshop with 10 people who genuinely want to spread the word to others about how great your brand is?

Everyone has influence in their own networks, especially in today’s digital age where they can easily share what they’re passionate about with their communities online. Over time, as these 10 individuals spread the word to their friends, who then spread the word to another group of individuals, those 10 people can turn into 100, which turns into 1,000 engaged customers who actively want to know what’s going with your brand and want to purchase from you. That tends to lead to more sales than pushing sales-focused content to 1,000 disinterested people.

This type of one-to-one marketing can take more time and effort, but given that social media algorithms now prioritise content from individuals over brands, it’s more important than ever before to have customers spread the word for you.

employees as advocates

In addition to leveraging the power of customer advocacy, brands can also thrive in this digital age by having employees spread the word to their own networks. Like customers, employees have their own circles of influence, and if they spread the word about your brand to their own communities, you can organically expand your reach.

In many cases, your employees are already talking about your brand or your industry online, so it often makes sense to nudge them in the direction you’d like to go by implementing an employee advocacy program, where employees can easily share content related to your brand on social media. Doing so can be an in-depth endeavor, such as adding and training staff to use employee advocacy software that lets marketers load compliance-approved content onto an online platform, from which employees can then share posts that help improve their thought leadership. Yet these types of efforts are often worth it in order to provide a more human element to your marketing, grow your influence and better maintain your intended brand narrative.

Aside from formal employee advocacy programs, you can also leverage the power of your employees by highlighting them in content on your brand channels. For example, let employees in different departments takeover your social media accounts for a day to showcase their perspectives of what a day-in-the-life is like at your brand. You can also share content such as videos from company outings or sharing photos from employee birthday celebrations. Whatever your brand does to build a strong employee experience can be highlighted in your marketing to showcase your brand values and engage others in a more relatable way than sales-focused content.

to your audience

Beyond growing your reach through customer and employee advocacy, you can also improve your marketing by using social media as a listening tool to better understand what your customers and employees care about. Simply search for your company name, competitors’ names or industry terms within social media platforms to see what others have to say.

Once you start to keep track of these conversations, you can create content that reflects what customers want to talk about. For example, if you’re a food business, you may see your customers are talking more about sustainability than price, so instead of posting what’s on sale, you could highlight stories about your suppliers and their sustainable initiatives.

You can also use social media as a way to elicit direct feedback from your audience, such asking for their opinions on new designs or asking for recommendations in areas like improving your internal technology. In doing so, you can create genuine engagement while gaining a better understanding of how your customers think.

Marketers that make these shifts stand a better chance of connecting with communities online. Even though marketing in this digital age may be more complex and time-consuming, there are more opportunities to reach new customers, while forming deeper connections with existing ones to increase brand loyalty and trust.

End of Marketing
Carlos Gil is out 03 October, published by Kogan Page, priced £14.99.

Carlos Gil
Carlos Gil

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