Inc. recently published an article entitled “The Most Important Leadership Skill You’ll Ever Learn”. This is an example of a great piece of content marketing, as its title builds anticipation to reveal an outcome.
The article’s author, Les McKeown, puts forth the argument that pattern development is the most leadership skill. To McKeown, pattern development is what enables leaders to make great decisions. I think that within the marketing function, recognizing patterns is crucial because without recognizing patterns, it is hard to make the most important marketing decisions. The most important marketing decisions are the ones that set forth the strategy to be implemented. A visionary mind who can anticipate the future is a hallmark of a great marketing leader. In order to anticipate the future, it is essential to know where trends will lead the marketplace. Technological changes impact all 4 P’s of the marketing mix, but are usually most relevant when it comes to product offerings and product promotions. Product offerings must be kept up with ever changing market demands while product promotion tactics can change at an alarming rate. Marketers should follow the wisdom of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who was noted for saying that he would skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. Not all of the products and promotion tactics relevant today will be relevant in 5 years.
There are loads of case studies about marketers who failed to see the upcoming trends. One well known example of this was Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster saw the trend of home video rental based on the technology change of VHS. However, circa 2000, they failed to see an upcoming change in the market that drastically affected the distribution model of home video. They didn’t see that Internet distribution of DVDs, including a monthly pricing fee for viewing instead of a per unit rental fee, was going to replace the brick and mortar video store model. Blockbuster is a fraction of what it once was. Meanwhile, Netflix, who championed the aforementioned pricing and distribution model, has been working towards moving away the the physical DVD model is recent years and emphasizing streaming video in an attempt to keep their product offering current to the marketplace.
Meanwhile, product promotion tactics change with the onset of technology and which channels are on the forefront of attracting a new, burgeoning audience. Marketers like to pay attention to this, because channel efficacy drops over time as channels become saturated. Marketing thought leader Gary Vaynerchuk refers to this as marketers ruining everything. The best marketers attempt to find new channels of getting their message across as quickly and effectively as possible. Teens and 20 somethings are leaders in finding new channels to make their own space, and those channels are most often where marketers want to bolster their presence. In upcoming years, new social channels such as Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, and a social channel yet to be created will have greater roles in the promotions component of the marketing mix.
The fragmentation of audiences means that not one single channel can be relied upon. Rather, a multi-channel approach guided with with a proven methodology and platform is the course of action that is likely to augment sales and marketing outcomes over an extended period of time. The promotion mix must evolve, just as other components of the marketing mix like pricing, distribution and the product offering need to keep pace with current trends. Great marketers see the trends and adjust their efforts accordingly while maintaining an approach rooted in fundamental marketing theory.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know below.