Ken Kesey used to say, “You’re either on the bus or off the bus.” He would say this to his band of Merry Pranksters with the understanding that you can’t be “on the bus” and not fully engaged in everything that happens on the journey and you can’t be “off the bus” and engaged in the activities that are taking place on the journey. You’re either in 100% or you’re out. You can’t have it both ways.
So how does this relate to marketing? Marketing is a fast game, it’s never static and it takes individuals who are constantly engaged with consumers and their behaviors. For us to stay proactive in our efforts we need to always be on our toes, not only looking at current message consumption behaviors, but also new methods and technologies associated with targeting the fast growing “digital tribalism” that exists today.
As experts in our field it’s our job to stay engage 100% in what’s happening around us. Involved in the journey and “on the bus.” Staying static with marketing/messaging tactics and mediums because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” won’t cut it anymore. If you’re not challenging yourself or your team to go to the extremes of what’s possible then you’re “off the bus” and not fully engaged. Sure, you can maintain specific traditional marketing tactics that are effective, but there’s a whole new crop of consumers coming into their own. How do you plan on reaching these people? A 14 year old today is consuming their messaging in a way that most of us can’t comprehend. This 14 year old will be 18 in four years and will be a target demographic for services such as banking, healthcare, insurance, automobiles, real estate, recreation, travel…you name it and they’ll be a target demographic. If you think this group will consume the majority of their messaging through newsprint, broadcast media, radio and old forms of social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn you are sadly mistaken.
The new crop of consumers are extremely wise when it comes to filtering out clutter. Old school marketing and advertising tactics simply don’t work with this demographic. Just as we need to be engaged with the consumer, the consumer wants to be hyper-engaged with their brands of choice. They consider themselves stakeholders in the brand and they demand two way conversations. That’s what you need to deliver to the consumer.
Here is a short list of basic recommendations where businesses (or us folks that are the marketing experts responsible for these businesses) need to be headed to maintain relevancy and stay ahead of the curve:
If any or all of these terms are foreign to you then it’s time to get re-engaged in your marketing efforts and consumer behavior studies. The bus is pulling out of the parking lot. Are you on the bus or off the bus?