Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blending the New with the Old

Eric Schulz
New tools to help marketers reach consumers are being created or evolved at breakneck speed. Just when you think you’re up-to-date on the latest cell phone technology, android marketplace, texting gimmick, widget, social network, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ or other innovation, something new comes along that changes everything.

Many young marketers growing up in this age of rapid evolution are so focused on taking advantage of the next new thing, they’ve failed to learn or integrate basic marketing strategies that have been time-proven to work. Many seasoned marketers, having embraced and found success using the core strategies of the past, disparately cling to old strategies and tactics, discounting the opportunities created by new technology, media and hardware.

To be effective in today's environment, marketers must integrate the marketing innovation created by the technology revolution and the brash utilization of these tools by youthful marketers, with the sage and proven wisdom of time-tested marketing strategies.


Marketing Truth

The strategies proven to convince consumers to buy your products have not changed. The tools and tactics we can use as marketers to most effectively and efficiently reach consumers have changed dramatically.



It wasn’t that long ago that “social network” was the term that described the group of ladies who get together at church to knit quilts on Saturday mornings. Senior marketers remember when there were only three television networks, and “appointment viewing” was Thursday nights at 8 p.m. to watch “The Cosby Show” on NBC. The most technologically advanced piece of home electronics was a VCR, with a flashing “12:00” on the face because most adults were too intimidated to program it.

Now social networks mean Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter and countless affinity groups. Cable and satellite providers have diluted the effectiveness of TV advertising, bringing up to 200 channels into homes, specialized into everything from sports to history to home improvement, which can be of help in some cases if you’re selling to a very specific audience, but a detriment to reaching consumers far and wide. Smart phones are now complete entertainment devices, with the ability to stream TV, hold your music library, access your email, and give you turn-by-turn driving directions. DVR’s have replaced VCR’s, and appointment viewing is a thing of the past. Consumers record their favorite shows on their DVR’s and watch them later, so they can skip through all the commercials (a very bad thing for marketers). About the only television programs being watched when they are being broadcast live are news and sports. Miss your favorite program or accidentally erase it? No problem. Just watch it at your convenience on your computer via streaming video on the web or your smart phone.

Advertising to youth has changed the most radically. Kids use the TV more to play games on their Playstation, Xbox and Wii than to watch programs. They don’t listen to the radio; they get their music from an iPod. They don’t read the newspaper or magazines; they browse the internet, use widgets or subscribe to RSS feeds for the things that interest them. The media channels that have been used for decades to advertise to youth are becoming less and less effective.


Marketing Truth

A wise man once told me “it’s not what you CAN do, it’s what you SHOULD do”. The question you need to ask is “Does it FIT with your brand strategy and drive the sales needle?”


Can vs. Should

Three or four times each week, a salesmen comes into my office to show me his latest and greatest marketing tool. Most are technology driven, such as location based Bluetooth or GPS texting; “smart” database systems; and innovative internet technologies. One gentleman came in to show me how I could upload a scanned photo of myself to his website, and his company could insert my face over the top of the actor’s face in any commercial, and my eyes, mouth movements, and expressions would all look exactly like I was in the commercial. Cool, but what do I do with it? How will it help me sell my products?

Marketing today isn’t just about initiating an email blast to your database, texting them, “tweeting” them, or creating a really cool mobile app. While those are tactics that CAN be used, they need to fit within a strategic plan that drives product sales. Just creating a great looking website the ad agency has convinced you to make “sticky” so that consumers come and linger doesn’t necessarily translate into improved product sales or even increased brand affinity.

About the Author

Eric D Schulz is Sr. Lecturer and Co-Director of Strategic Marketing & Brand Management at the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. He is a brand marketing expert and the author of “The Marketing Game, How The World’s Best Companies Play to Win”, with sales of over 250,000 copies worldwide. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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