The digital world has changed consumer habits, our social habits and now our marketing toolbox. While marketing still involves connecting buyers with sellers, the very idea of what constitutes buyers, sellers and connection has changed.
Most notably, digital technologies have provided both buyers and sellers alike with new channels to communicate. The Internet and email are only the tip of the iceberg. We are seeing the beginnings of a rise in mobile with touch screen display providing more intuitive browsing. Furthermore, social applications like YouTube and Facebook have turned the Internet into the corner marketplace. We are now capable of keeping up with friends regardless of boundaries. Companies are only starting to realize the power of borderless commerce.
What we know is that consumers in a digital world are driven by intent. They have purpose to their actions. While radio and television were largely passive channels for which to communicate messages, digital channels are very active. Even on YouTube, we make explicit decisions on what to see next. If what we see is not compelling, we are seconds away from another option.
The implications of intent driven media consumption are vast. I believe the most important for marketers is an understanding that we can no longer be proactive with messaging and communications. Nearly everything we do in digital channels must be reactionary. Even proactive campaigns to build awareness must be built to accommodate response. Take the Motrin campaign as an example. This campaign initiated a conversation around the pain a mother can feel. They were not prepared to handle the ensuing conversation. Thus, a proactive message failed in its attempt to generate conversation. We must be prepared and plan as if everything was a reaction.
In the process of connecting buyers with sellers, we should be prepared to address and handle buyer problems. This goes beyond customer service. Marketing messages are only pieces in a larger conversation. Consumers not only understand, but welcome this approach. Companies need to realize this and begin to engage their customers where welcomed.