Sunday, December 27, 2009

How Evolved is Your Marketing?

What has changed about today's consumer that makes meaningful marketing more relevant than previous types of marketing? What is meaningful marketing? Those are just some of the questions I asked Bob Gilbreath, chief marketing strategist at Bridge Worldwide, one of the nation's largest digital advertising agencies. He's also the author of The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning.

In the podcast interview, I asked Bob if the evolution in marketing he writes about has been primarily driven by media consumption or by some other factor. Of course, it's a mixture of things. But after interviewing lots of people like Bob over the past five years, I think that there's a common thread of time-starved people who are controlling their media rather than merely absorbing whatever comes their way. In other words, we're all functioning with a bit of attention-deficit and therefore are looking for media that is going to fill needs rather than just time.

Gilbreath takes the ubiquitous Maslow's hierarchy of needs and transforms it into a new pyramid that is broken into three main categories. At the bottom is
Meaningful Solutions -- those marketing efforts that provide information, incentives, and services. One level up is Connections -- those marketing efforts that create entertaining experiences that are shared amongst others, along with the introduction to personalization. Finally, at the top of the pyramid is Achievement -- those marketing efforts that enable a user to learn a skill, improve their community/world, and cause-related marketing efforts.
In essence, Gilbreath's book is about the fact that marketing is evolving to the point where those companies that can improve the lives of their customers through the marketing itself will win out over those companies who simply try to buy usage and loyalty.
What does this mean to the non profit? A whole hell of a lot.

This past November, I received a gift catalog from Heifer International. It was one of the many in the mail but this one stood out amongst the others. Not because they used flashy printing or graphics, but the simple message that communicated it was the most important gift catalog in the world. That catalog became the pivot point for my Christmas giving, enabling me to gather together like minded people who contributed to a joint gift. This gift allowed several of us to make a meaningful contribution to our world -- a far more meaningful use of our money than things wrapped in plastic and cardboard boxes. And, at the end of the purchase experience, Heifer enabled me to share my experience with others (though their system could have been better in this regard).

The point is, I think people are looking for meaning, especially when it comes to their money. So, for the non profit the evolution is not to just rely on traditional direct mail and the annual fundraiser, but to CREATE meaningful experiences for those who flitter around the periphery of your organization, drawing them deeper into the core of your cause, and increasing the meaning at each step (think Gilbreath's hierarchy noted above).

How are you creating meaning in your marketing? Share your story here!

-- David Kinard, PCM


Justin Downey said...

Indeed marketing has evolved--especially in B2B marketing.

Marketing messages must be valuable and relevant. Your post seems to skip over the relevancy thing.

It's not often that marketing can add real, lasting value to prospective new customers, but so long as the message is relevant, valuable and timely, it will cut through the clutter.

This is where social media, online content marketing and PR are changing (or shall I say, evolving) marketing as we know it.

The Rookie Blogger said...

This is a very interesting railing system post. very informative. thanks for sharing.

David Kinard, PCM said...

Please note that I am choosing to leave the SPAM comment above in tact. It serves as an awesome example of how UNevolved some marketers still are, and how some people and companies just don't get it.