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Disintegrating Marketing Pt.1 - Trust No One

Start with what we know. We are expected to be knowledgeable. We are expected to be informed, yet because of the pace of change, real knowledge is elusive. Some things remain consistent (base human motivations, deep metaphors and fundamental behaviors), other things are changing faster than human comprehension (sharing knowledge, innovation and social structures). The average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer continues to decline to 43 months. Fake followers cost brands $1.6 billion in worthless “influencer” marketing. The trust index in our society (institutions, government and fellow citizens) continues to decline.

Here’s a troubling thought in economics. Brand assets have proven to be the largest single asset sold when many corporations sell. So, we’re living in an intangible world. Which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone working in the digital, experience design or ecommerce portion of our economy. Marketing, as a discipline, is responsible for the relationship between brands and people. Yet, the CMO has about 3.5 years of tenure to architect a fix while the culture surrounding brands is declining in trust and increasing in fake influence.

Many institutions still teach “integrated marketing” in much the same way we have for the past five decades. You can blame the speed of change, but what matters is how we adapt going forward. In our book The Physics of Brand, we wrote about the idea that integrated marketing needed to be broken apart and rebuilt from the ground up to match our modern economy. The way we’re teaching the marketing disciplines is built on a foundation with little consideration for the largest modern invention in our economy; the internet. We can do better, we need to do better.

Brand leaders have every opportunity to change the relationship from skeptical, shallow and suspicious to trusted, loved and coveted. This requires an acute awareness of where we are today. Brands have to swim in shallow shark infested waters where digital platforms (Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, etc) are changing our relationships from real smiles and handshakes to an emoji lifestyle. The hopeful bit of news, we are still human and human beings desire real human connections over superficial digital thumbs.

Now, let’s grab the sledge hammer and start the process of disintegrating marketing. If you’re still all hopped up on digital, read this and if it makes you sick when you’re looking at all you’ve spent on digital advertising, don’t grab the mesh trash can. Unfortunately, the digital revolution is facing the reconciliation machine (also known as the CFO) and it’s going to be ugly. Get out in front of this, start winding down your digital spend and look to what mediums, tactics and approaches actually have a return on investment.

We’re entering into a new era in marketing, disintegrated is the new normal. This works in stark contrast with our innate human desire for symmetry in the presentation of our brands. But, we have to disintegrate before we can reintegrate our efforts. You need to have an inventory of the building blocks you have before you start putting them together. It means everything needs to be questioned to ascertain what it contributes to revenue and a lot more zero-based budgeting in the marketing department until we achieve more confidence in the media landscape.

We need to build glass silos, so we can see across an organization but still manage with structure and accountability. We need to seek out specialty advice from those leading the charge in this new marketing frontier. We need experienced creative minds not looking to “puffery” the consumer, but rather engage, entertain and enthral. We need to inspire the art and do the math, but always keep it in this order.

Trust no one medium, creative idea or marketing soul; pave your own path.

And, if you feel uncomfortable with this story, get ready for Part Two.

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Categories Business & Marketing

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