Advertising and Marketing in the Digital Age: Goodbye Control, Hello Change!


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Text comes from: Ich, endlich einzigartig: Authentisch. Persönlich. Echt. Wie du zur Marke wirst und im Gedächtnis bleibst(2018), Meine Marke: Was Unternehmen authentisch, unverwechselbar und langfristig erfolgreich macht (2018) from Hermann H. Wala, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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We live in a time of upheaval. The changes in the media markets and digital innovations such as Facebook and Twitter about how much our world is changing. What can we do?

Advertising and Marketing in the Digital Age: Goodbye Control, Hello Change!

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Hermann H. Wala is an entrepreneur, marketing strategist and speaker.

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When media changes, society changes

Whenever the media changes, society changes. I am convinced that our present resembles the threshold time around 1500, when Gutenberg invented printing and Columbus discovered America. The existing terrestrial trade routes have been supplemented by the new, faster maritime routes. The order patterns of the last decades have changed in a very short time and there is no standstill in sight. It is a great challenge as a company to operate successfully in the dynamically changing markets and to position itself securely for the future. The entrepreneurial strategy should be to successfully continue existing and healthy companies with their strong brands while investing in new objects and lucrative digital ventures.

For the media industry this means that companies have a rich portfolio of media that covers almost all human needs for information and entertainment. We give people orientation. In addition to the classic business models, we focus on the digital sector and new markets. We combine the traditional business with the new. But you shouldn't make the mistake of misunderstanding the principles of the Internet. There are new target groups and a completely new market here. As part of this new development, there are new market participants who urge us to further develop and invest in new business models. The big winners of digitization are search engines like Google. The company embodies the new world in an ideal way and dominates the digital market. But at least in Germany search engines are on the way to infrastructure companies that require transparency in business relationships. For companies outside of the media industry, too, the economic success factors have changed significantly due to new media and new communication options. In today's global competition, there is an unprecedented price transparency and confusion at the same time. In the western affluent societies, many customers are more critical and better informed than ever. They are less and less satisfied with the role of the passive consumer, they look behind the scenes of the company, they buy very consciously. Strong brands also have a firm place in this new world.

The new rules of the game for brands

But the rules of the game for brands in the digital age are different than they were twenty years ago. Strong brands today - from Coca-Cola to Google, from Apple to Audi - are identification offers in a confusing world. To do this, brands have to open up to their customers, offer opportunities for interaction and convey a “we-feeling” that is rooted in shared values ​​and convictions. In other words: Brands have to be lived, authentically embodied by management and supported by a credible (and thus motivating) corporate culture.

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The current state of advertising could read in a revolutionary way: "Marketing is dead, long live marketing!" This book clearly describes how and, above all, where the new marketing will change and where the customer will draw his attention in the future . We-brands will shape less analyzes, concepts and marketing strategies, but lived values. Many marketing agencies will pass and take their place with institutions that touch people and expand their awareness. When speaking of the transition from the age of knowledge to the age of consciousness, it seems far removed and esoteric. But Albert Schweizer already knew: "The world does not change through constant new measures, but through a new attitude."

Responsibility Values ​​and trust of a brand

When one speaks of responsibility, values ​​and trust as the basis of a brand. In my opinion, this is a consistent, deep and very sensible approach. The concept of the we-brand addresses the people of a company and their passion. It also needs the entrepreneurial energy and creative power of owners and managers. Thus it merges marketing and leadership. This is exciting because the two are usually seen and taught separately. Holistic thinking people are aware of this. Also that the boundaries between the disciplines of business administration will dissolve. The emotional and psychological concept of a brand has become far too complex, as it encounters a no less complex market.

But instead of complaining about complexity and repeating old methods of "managing" this complexity, the view should be broadened - consistently against the existing fantasies of omnipotence and against the often implicit requirement of "having to have everything under control". We won't have much under control soon and we should say goodbye to these old patterns very quickly. The solution lies in trust - namely trusting people and trusting brands.

How effective is advertising?

You may be familiar with Henry Ford's famous advertising sigh. Even in the first half of the 20th century it was evidently not easy to skillfully address customers. But compared to today, the founder of the Ford Motor Company found himself in an almost paradisiacal situation. His product was so innovative and so sought-after that (sales) success could hardly be avoided. A hundred years later, the markets have changed dramatically. The customer is spoiled for choice not only with vehicles, but with practically every offer, from automobiles to toothpaste. Every small-town supermarket has at least a dozen kinds of mustard, and you could spend hours in front of the refrigerated shelf if you wanted to compare all the offers. Marketing reacted to the variety of products with a real barrage of advertising. In the 3.000s, it was estimated that each consumer was exposed to an average of 5.000 brand messages per day. If you believe the new star of the marketing scene, Martin Lindstrom, that number has now risen to 1965. No wonder that the courted people capitulated long before the constant rain and simply ignore most of the messages. “In 34, the average viewer remembered 1990 percent of television commercials. In 14,5 he could only recall XNUMX percent «, writes Lindstrom in his book Brand Sense.

It is to be feared that the recall value of TV advertising today, a good two decades later, has again decreased drastically. While the public channels managed to collect 20 minutes of advertising by the time the private broadcasters were founded, the experts from Serviceplan and the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (Gf K) are now assuming 10.000 spots per day (!) most agencies a hectic “Keep it up!” to set the tone. In Germany alone there are 2 advertised brands, and around 80.000 new items are introduced each year in the “Fast Moving Consumer Goods” segment. Just under a third of these products survive the first year in retail, around 30.000 percent disappear from the shelves within 70 months.12 So much for the effectiveness of advertising today. Although the methods of market research are becoming more and more sophisticated and the campaigns more and more complex, the bad suspicion of a trial-and-error procedure in which one repeatedly throws new products into the battle for the attention of long-satiated consumers, in the mostly futile hope that it will be fine this time.

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Marketing is dying

In many cases things are not going well, and so the marketing crisis has been conjured up for years. "Neither innovative products or services nor sophisticated sales and pricing strategies or creative advertising are a guarantee of success today," writes Klaus-Dieter Koch from the Brand Trust consultancy. »Marketing, as it has been practiced in many companies in recent years, is dying. The world of checklists, safe recipes and rules, the right answers and sophisticated methods is collapsing, ”concludes the Swiss marketing expert Otto Belz in a position assessment. Even Philip Kotler, the marketing guru of the nineties, likes to start texts with the apodictic statement: "Marketing no longer works." Symptomatic of the now widespread distrust in the promises of success of classic marketing is the reflex that budgets are drastic, especially in times of crisis

to shorten. If marketing works, more money should flow into it, not less, if sales are weak. The hectic propagation of new methods of success, from guerrilla marketing to neuromarketing to social media hype, is also a pronounced symptom of crisis. Because expensive brain scans only show which (existing) brands customers love. The magnetic resonance tomograph does not answer this question as to why they do this, and neither can it give any predictions of success for the future. There is no “Buy!” Button in the brain that can be clearly identified by scanning, as Hans-Georg Häusel, a well-known representative of neuromarketing, emphasizes. It is time to pause for a moment and get back to what companies actually bring customers: a strong brand. Whether Coca-Cola as a traditional brand or Google as the shooting star of the last decade, whether Apple as a cult brand in information technology or Nespresso as a gold mine in the highly competitive coffee market: successful brands are the beacons in a sea of ​​faceless products. What makes a brand a strong brand? - that's the million dollar question of marketing. It is worth asking this question again, because not only have the markets changed, but so have people. Marketing is not only becoming more difficult because there is already too much of a lot and every new product has to assert itself against a large number of competitors and fight for attention. Marketing becomes more difficult because the traditional recipes no longer work. Not only are customers passively capitulating to the multitude of advertising messages, many of them are fed up with traditional advertising. Nobody today seriously believes that a new detergent can wash even whiter, an improved diaper can keep the baby even drier, and a new razor can shave even better. And yet an astonishing number of advertising messages still rely on the rational principle of “better, faster, further”.

What must good products do today?

Customers are more critical, they are more suspicious, they are better informed. With just a few clicks of the mouse, prices can be compared, competing offers can be determined or reviews of other customers can be researched. But if many products can do more or less the same thing, what criteria are used to make purchase decisions? Either according to the price, which brings ruinous competition to many industries. Or according to criteria that marketing is only slowly targeting. I am convinced that we are witnessing a comprehensive change in values, which includes, for example, not only wanting to buy a good product, but also a clear conscience. How is it that some banks suddenly advertise that they invested in climate protection when lending for renovations? Or that coffee chains publicly think about the living conditions of coffee farmers? This change in values ​​also includes the fact that more and more people refuse to play the role of passive consumer and want to enter into a dialogue with companies and other customers. How is it that successful companies like Amazon not only deliver books, but also maintain a sophisticated rating system through which customers can get in touch with other customers? Why does a shoe mail order company get the idea of ​​having a new shoe model designed by a customer and dedicating a double page of its catalog to it?

The change in values ​​also means that products today no longer just “satisfy needs”, but more than ever serve to define one's own lifestyle. Hardly anyone has understood this better than Apple with its ability to design offers that exude coolness. Whether the new iPhone has technical problems or the ultra-thin emergencyebook too few connections, is secondary. Many customers consciously accept this, and yet both products are a must-have for the Apple community, which is excited about every new development by the company.

What binds customers to companies?

But it's not just the products that bind customers to the company: Without the charismatic former Apple boss Steve Jobs, who insisted on personally presenting every new development to a large audience in a rousing presentation, the hype would be over iPod, iPad and Co. hardly got that big. Jobs gave the company a face: Apple is not just any IT company, Apple is Jobs. The stock market understood this long ago: If the CEO coughs, the price fell. In confusing times, people who can be used for orientation provide an overview. This changes the role of top management: Technocrats who shy away from the public are giving away market potential. »The brand is the spirit of commonality between companies and customers, a homeland that Sense donates «, writes journalist Wolf Lotter clairvoyantly in Brand Eins magazine. Exceptional brands manage to create a feeling of solidarity with their customers that goes beyond a mere value proposition and ensures them long-term loyalty. Ideally, these brands have followers or fans and not just "buyers". In order to describe this feeling of unity between customers and brands, I speak of we-brands. If a company succeeds in establishing such a bond with its customers, the competition cannot harm it. On the contrary: if "the others" are noticed, it is to distance oneself from them and to assure one's own identity. What would the Mac be without an army of faceless PC owners? What is the Lonely Planet travel guide without the supposedly mass-produced goods of large travel book publishers? Images of the enemy have always helped to close one's own ranks more tightly.

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The subject of this book is why some brands are more likely to become we brands than others. You won't be surprised: there are no simple recipes for this. As the world becomes more complex and diverse, our answers to it will have to be more complex too. And so it is not enough to keep discovering new target groups from the “Young Globalists” to the “Latte Macchiato Families” to “Super Daddies”. It will rather be about how brands today manage to fascinate customers and arouse sympathy, beyond product features. A number of moments play a role here - a fascinating story, a clear message, cooperation in the company that guarantees excellent service, to name just a few. An opening to customers, a culture of listening and, last but not least, a farewell to the omnipotence fantasies of some marketing strategists. Because marketing will only emerge from its permanent crisis if it abandons its numerical, mechanistic ideas and returns it to where it actually belongs: in the heart of the company.


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