When do you get old enough and experienced enough to say your bit and risk offending just about everyone involved in marketing? Well, I think 62, with 40+ years experience is the moment. Have a look at my profile and you'll see I've earned my spurs, so I am not going to pussyfoot about.
If you are open-minded, then you may take this on board, if you are in a closed loop of thinking, then you may well take what I say, bin it and never consider it again.
We have been through nothing less than a revolution in the past ten years. A worldwide revolution that has had more impact than the Russian Revolution in 1917. A communications revolution.
Ten years ago, we were at the beginning. Mobile phones were becoming smartphones. Early adopters were being joined by more and more people who were quickly adapting their lives to the digital age of handheld internet fed by wifi and then in 2013, 4G. A smartphone was no longer a luxury, it was a necessity. You need one to keep in contact with your friends and to do your work. Texting became messaging and YouTube was joined by Netflix and then Amazon Prime. The television became a smart tv, with numerous choices on the remote.
Newspapers are in terminal decline, with young people not developing the reading habit. Radio has held its own but is facing competition from the arrival of Amazon Echo technology in cars, and the Google Home Mini joining the Echo in the home.
And this is happening all around the world.
The revolution in communication has resulted in a revolution in behavioural change. People are doing things differently because they have complete control over what media they use, where they use it, and when.
So has there been a marketing revolution to match the change in communications and behaviour?
Of course, there has been a change. But I still see marketing communications based around ads. I see ads put on the digital channels, but too often they are ads that should be used on TV, not on social media or games. I see ads that should be in newspapers being put onto Facebook or Twitter, getting in the way of my feed. I then click through to the most boring content that is written as if it is for an ad in a trade magazine. And usually overwritten at that.
Have companies that need good marketing changed to meet this revolutionary change?
No. I know this for a fact. I spoke to a potential client, and he talked to their marketing team. He got back, they are not interested, they are doing it all right, they don't need any more input. Yet when I look at their marketing, it is, well to be honest, as boring as a really boring thing, and will do nothing to change people's view of their brand (it is one of the big four accountancy practices in Belfast). Would I go as far as to say that it is bound by conventions, lacks innovation, and endorses the current view of the brand rather than changing it?
What do you think?
So the revolution is being ignored. Marketing is not adapting to change or opportunities. The revolution means that the individual is at the core of all potential success. That person on their smartphone on the bus is watching what they want to watch. That child at home is not looking at the same thing as their Mum, Dad, brother or sister. They are also avoiding the ads. How do I know, because, given the option, people will avoid ads.
And after Brexit and the Coronavirus, there are companies that need to look at new markets but are not buying into the revolution. They are thinking they know how the world works, despite all the evidence to the contrary. A closed loop.
Marketing that thinks the individual is interested in you is marketing that will not work. Marketing that makes the individual think you are interested in them, will.
I hear the words traditional and digital. Forget that, All advertising and marketing in 2020 exists in this new digital world, with a new language, new behaviour, new choices, new retailers, new options to buy, new banks, new taxi companies, new property companies, new clouds. Old fashioned advertising continues from a business that used to be at the forefront of innovation.
So are you going into the 2020s with an open mind to the revolution? Or are you going to stick? Hold your ground. And watch your business fade away.