Infographic: The history of marketing


HubSpot, the inbound marketing gurus have come up with an impressive infographic that outlines the history of marketing from the first one dimensional ads of 1450 to the digital, more interactive model of today.

The history of marketing
The history of marketing

It’s a massive infographic that features all the key moments in the evolution of marketing such as the print era that lasted 300 or so years to the introduction of new channels including TV and radio advertising and then onto the digital era of video, search marketing, inbound marketing, email and more before coming to the present era of social media and mobile.

What’s happening in social marketing in 2013


As the advertising agency driven ‘big idea’ developed to push out a corporate controlled message continues to lose steam, social media and multiple new platforms, devices and applications mean that marketers have less control over the brand. Indeed, as consumers not companies now define brands, those marketers need to learn how to engage consumers on an ongoing basis.

This will be driven by content development and engagement across social media and digital mobile marketing.

This infographic from dotcominfoway suggests the most likely tools and technologies that will most influence the digital marketing landscape in 2013.

4 Digital trends moving forward
4 Digital trends moving forward

What do you think?

Cross platform marketing to build a brand


It is accepted now that consumers are paying less attention to traditional media.

Although the TV or the radio may be on, it doesn’t mean they are viewed or heard. And with the proliferation of ads and trailers, more consumers are reaching for other screens during a break in programming.

But marketers still insist on using traditional media to reach as many consumers as possible in the hope that their message will stick. Even those companies that are spending on digital are using the same methods as they used in the old mass economy.

This despite the fact that last year Harvard Business Review said, “Traditional marketing is dead… in today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing and sales not only doesn’t work so well, it doesn’t make sense.”

However, all is not doom and gloom for traditional media channels. Or at least the TV.

This infographic from Uberflip shows that although consumers are reaching for other devices whilst watching TV, many of them (66%) are using those devices to source information on a product and often purchase after seeing that product on TV.

Cross platform marketing requires a new mindset
Cross platform marketing requires a new mindset

So there may be a future for the TV as a communications tool after all.

However, what marketers must do is rely less on corporate driven messages and instead, identify how to introduce their products on one screen and then integrate that product and messaging across other screens taking into account changed behaviours, attitudes and cultures.

Consumers have changed, has your marketing strategy?


Doe this sound familiar?

You need to spend time creating a position that is driven by the corporation.

Once created, the position must be communicate across traditional media (with a nod toward social media, but a nod only) to as many people as possible and hope that some of it sticks.

If it doesn’t, create a new position and repeat ad nauseum. Hopefully you will get it right. If you don’t, well you can always discount. This model was developed by Jack Trout in the 1970s. I wrote a blog post about it here

Sadly, despite US$1.5 trillion spent annually on marketing, 70% of today’s manufactured goods will be obsolete in six years (Industry Week magazine). There are estimated to be more than 30,000 new product introductions in the US alone every year, and that’s just in the packaged goods market. According to AC Nielsen, up to 90% of products fail to become brands. This means that as many as 27,000 of those new products will fail.

Today’s consumer has changed the way he lives his life and moreover, markets are so fluid, spending time developing a position and watching your competitors is the fastest route to business oblivion.

The key to success is the sales force and their ability to build your business through collaborations and by matching products/services to individual customer requirements for value and then maintaining those relationships and your brand communities team who develop brand evangelists and influence influencers.

And with social media and modern technology, that is not difficult. A lot less difficult than creating a position and pinning all your hopes on, well hope.

Marketing is dead


In June 2009 I wrote a blog post explaining that in today’s social economy where consumers not companies define brands, the concept of positioning was no longer relevant.

You can read the full article here but the crux of the article is that the concept of positioning, a key element of marketing is no longer relevant.

In September 2009 I wrote another post about how the Malaysian Ministry of health spent over US$35 million on a traditional marketing campaign that failed to reduce smoking in the country. You can read the full article here

In January 2010 I wrote an article about how 95% of products fail to become brands despite US$1.5 trillion spent on marketing annually. You can read the full article here

There are lots more similar articles all saying the same thing – that in the new world order, where customers not companies define brands – the old rules of marketing are dead. Feel free to browse my blog to find them.

Now Bill Lee over at Harvard Business Review has got on the bandwagon. He claims in this article, and rightly so that marketing is dead and provides three very good reasons.

Traditional marketing is dead

a) consumers aren’t listening to traditional messages. He provides empirical evidence that proves that in the consumer decision making process, traditional marketing has no relevance.

b) CEOs have lost patience with marketing departments. A 2011 study reports that “73% of CEOs said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money (by CMOs) without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can’t be linked to actual firm equity. (I believe measuring brand equity is a futile exercise and you can read more about what you should measure here).

c) In a social world dominated by social media and the way we use it, traditional marketing doesn’t work and doesn’t make sense.

Bill goes on to provide some excellent advice on how to move forward with building a brand. If you have been spending too much on traditional marketing activities and can’t see the benefits, it may be time to review your strategy.

You know where to find us!

Sri Lanka: A Big Miracle


After the domestic travel trade complained repeatedly that it doesn’t spend enough money promoting the country internationally, The Sri Lanka tourism development Authority (SLTDA) announced that it will launch a new tourism campaign in the next few months to increase visibility in key source markets. The campaign is expected to be in addition to existing marketing efforts.

This is going on at the same time as a new tourism policy is being drafted that should include a new tagline that is rumoured to be “Refreshingly Sri Lanka – Wonder of Asia”. This will be the first tagline since “Sri Lanka: Small Miracle” was binned in 2009.

Sri Lanka’s annual marketing budget is about 500 million Sri Lankan rupees (RM1 = 35 Sri Lankan rupees) which is about RM14 million.

SLTDA spends about RM5.5 million on international trade fairs and about RM1 million on sponsoring international travel writers to visit the country. The balance of about RM7 million is spent on advertising and other through the line activities. It is not clear if funding for the new campaign will come from this RM7 million or additional funds will be made available.

I find it hard to understand what the domestic travel trade is complaining about and why the SLTDA is giving in. I get the feeling this is just an exercise to shut up the domestic travel trade. In my opinion, SLTDA is doing very little wrong.

Arrivals to Sri Lanka in 2010 were up an impressive 46% over 2009. Indeed arrivals reached 654,476 in 2010, the highest since the 566,202 arrivals in 2004. Revenue from tourism in 2010 was over RM1.5 billion (US$500 million).

The government is targeting 750,000 arrivals in 2011 and early indications are that that target will be achieved. In the first six months of 2011, about 381,000 visitors arrived in the country.

The record of 2004 was set after the government and the Tamil Tigers agreed a peace treaty. In May 2009 the government defeated the Tamil separatists to end the 30 year civil war and tourism arrivals have risen every month thereafter.

Furthermore, the country’s tourism business has secured US$1.2 billion in FDI already this year and has another US$3 billion of deals in the pipeline.

Surely the travel trade should be very happy with what the SLTDA has done so far on a relatively small budget?

And surely spending money on egocentric ‘look at me’ awareness campaigns that will be lost in the clutter are not the way forward?

And even if they do work, can Sri lanka manage the influx of visitors? And if it can’t what are the potential ramifications? And what does Sri Lanka do after the campaign?

It would make more sense to invest what funds it has into a well researched brand strategy and implement that brand strategy rather than spending money for the sake of it on a tactical campaign that seems to be driven by misguided travel industry workers.

Brand communications is no longer about broadcasting a company position across multiple mass communication platforms.


In today’s always on world, an important part of any brand strategy is the communications strategy but if Asian brands are going to be taken seriously, Asian CEOs must understand that times have changed and that we are living in a new world order. And in that new world order, the success of a brand is in the hands of the consumer not the corporation.

Today CEOs must understand that how consumers source information about brands and where they source that information from, has changed dramatically over the last 5 – 10 years. Where previously they learnt about brands from television commercials, newspaper advertisements and the recommendations of friends, today they learn about brands from Facebook communities, Twitter lists and YouTube channels.

Gartner estimates that mass marketing campaigns now have only a 2% response rate and this is declining annually. Despite this, Asian CEOs, so long in control of their brands and reluctant to lose that control, continue to try and shape brand perceptions by broadcasting positions repeatedly across traditional media via multiple and repetitive campaigns.

But Asian CEOs need to accept that in today’s noisy, crowded, dynamic, mobile market place, a brand cannot be shaped by repetitive communications campaigns that try to appeal to as many people as possible in the hope that someone will buy and communicated across traditional media. And those CEOs must understand that the success of their brands is too important to be left in the hands of marketers and advertising agencies.

According to Gartner, by 2015, at least 80% of consumers’ discretionary spending will be influenced by marketing across social and mobile platforms. And it is imperative that CEOs do not allow marketing departments to continue the mass market model of invasive campaigns that try to push a one size fits all corporate position onto consumers.

So if building a successful brand requires more than a traditional approach to marketing where reaching anyone and everyone and making them all aware of the brand with a generic message broadcast multiple times across multiple channels is not the way forward, what should Asian CEOs do if they want to challenge the global western brands?

The first thing is that this new world order is good news for Asian CEOs because it means they can stop wasting funds on expensive creative driven initiatives that require deep wallets to fund advertising campaigns repeatedly across traditional media in the hope that they will resonate with consumers and lead to a possible sale because the reality is, very few of them are noticed, let alone remembered.

Try this experiment. If you advertise in a daily newspaper or on TV, ask yourself which ads you remember from yesterday’s newspaper or on TV last night. Be honest. I doubt it is many. Personally I remember the ads from the Sunday paper because I was stunned at how many pages featured supermarkets and hypermarkets having a ‘cheap off’ on chicken wings, grapes and cases of beer.

And these are the very same newspapers that featured advertisements for Patek Philipe and Rolex watches, Lexus and Audi cars and other luxury products and services the week before!

And even if you remember newspaper ads or TV commercials, how many of the products or services advertised, have you interacted with? And of those how many have led to a purchase? And even if they have led to a purchase, what did the company do to ensure you come back again? I suspect they didn’t do anything and instead, after they spent all that money getting you into their store or to buy their product, they let you leave without getting some personal information in order for them to start to lay the foundations for a relationship!

In this era of smart phones and the half a million applications that can be used on them; In this era of social media with five hundred million Facebook users (6 million in Malaysia) of whom 50% are active every day and one hundred and forty million daily tweets on Twitter, many of them generated by Malaysia’s 1.1 million members; the proliferation of leisure time activities and abundant choice at malls and more, Asian CEOs must understand that the answer to brand building is delivering economic, experiential and emotional value to consumers and on their terms and across all touch points.

The global economic situation is a golden opportunity for Asian brands to take market share from established Western firms struggling to overcome cash flow issues and poor brand penetration. But it is up to CEOs to understand that they have to review traditional practices and take an interest, indeed responsibility for the brand and ensure brand departments understand that it is no longer enough just to advertise in traditional media and hope a brand will succeed.

CEOs must ensure too that at the heart of any new strategy must be the organization, making sure every brand touch point focuses on delivering value and communications departments must take social media seriously and understand how to deliver more engaged communications. And this will have to be done in a much more integrated, dynamic and fluid manner.

And whereas in the past, a series of the same full page ads repeated in daily newspapers or a number of prime time TVCs was generally sufficient to build brand awareness which would lead to a sale. Indeed, many consumers would actually watch a commercial and take a note of the brand and where they could purchase it. Those consumers would then go to the store, look for the brand and buy it. If the brand was unavailable they would take time out to come back again and again until they could make a purchase.

Today those same consumers don’t bother taking note of the brand names because they’re carpet bombed with messages throughout the day, every day. Many of those messages are making outrageous claims or are totally irrelevant to them. They are also too busy multi-tasking during the expensive commercial breaks. Furthermore, they’ve been let down so many times after believing those claims that they now often ignore them completely. And because consumers have so much choice and so many information channels, they don’t need to pay attention to messages broadcast via mass media any more.

Now consumers use social media and other tools where they inhabit communities that they relate to and trust, to seek information about brands. So it is in these communities where brands must learn to communicate and engage with consumers and deliver value that resonates with those consumers enough to make them want to own the brand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t advertise but I am saying that if your organization is not on brand and all marketing initiatives are not integrated to allow you to deliver on the brand promise. And if your organization is unable to deliver value across all touch points and if you don’t use every opportunity to engage with consumers and collect data to help you get to know your customer and start to build a relationship with your customer, your advertising efforts will be wasted and your brand will not survive these extraordinary times.

In this crazy, always on, competitive market place it is these relationships that are going to help build a successful brand and not newspaper ads or TV commercials, no matter how cool they are and no matter how cutting edge is the technology used in the commercial.

What will be the impact of social TV on your brand?


A fascinating survey by Digital Clarity in the UK of 1,300 under 25 mobile Internet users reports that a large number of them are talking to friends about the show they are watching.

80% of the survey participants said that they used Facebook, Twitter or other mobile applications to actually comment on the programme and talk about the programme to friends as they watch it.

Twitter (72%) is the most popular platform, followed by Facebook (56%) and other mobile applications (34%). Of those surveyed, 62% use a combination of all three.

Social TV as it is being called is popular because it means young people can communicate with friends, in real time whilst watching their favourite programmes.

But this is really going to put the cat amongst the advertising pidgeons. Here are half a dozen questions that I’d really like to get you input on:

What are the implications for advertisers, already struggling to keep viewers focused on the TV during commercial breaks?

Will advertisers accept that reaching lots of consumers is no longer a relevant metric and demand more from media owners?

Will advertisers push the creative envelope more to try and position products?

Will product placement increase, perhaps with cross platform repetition?

How will they integrate technology with traditional marketing initiatives?

How will this integration of consumer habit impact overall branding strategies?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dulux goes local


I expect most people around the world recognise international paint brand Dulux.

In its early days Dulux wasn’t available through retail channels because painters and decorators were the firm’s main customers. However in the 1950s, the firm still spoke to consumers in its advertising, telling them to, “Say Dulux to your decorator”. The goal of course was to get your tradesman to buy Dulux.

By 1953 Dulux had gone retail and in the 1960s the The firm became an institution in the UK following a ground breaking advertising campaign featuring an adorable Old English Sheepdog. Nowadays, people of my age often say, “Oh look, the Dulux dog” to bemused children whenever they see an Old English Sheepdog.

Dulux has maintained a very high profile in Malaysia and I have seen numerous billboards, print ads and TVCs featuring bright colours, smiling healthy children and sometimes of course a cute, adorable dog.

It always struck me that this was a questionable strategy, not only because this old mass economy model of spraying money everywhere and praying it would stick with enough consumers to increase sales was rather an archaic approach but also because it was a very Western approach to marketing paint to consumers.

In developed countries such as the UK and USA, home improvement is big business. In the UK alone spending on DIY by householders increased from £7.7 billion in 1998 to £10.9 billion in 2008. The average per household works out at about £700. Interestingly, spending on tradesmen to do the work fell from £6.4 billion to £5.7 billion during the same period.

According to a Euromonitor report, in Malaysia about £300 million was spent in 2008 on DIY and gardening and an average per household of about £20.

One of the reasons for such a difference is that many Malaysians live in apartments but also because it is relatively cheap to arrange for someone else to do your garden and there are plenty of contractors to carry out renovations and paint your house. So the target market in Malaysia should be these small contractors and not consumers.

Anyway, up until this week Euro RSCG, an advertising company had been the incumbent on the brand’s US$100 million global advertising business which it won from DDB in November 2009.

In the last couple of days, Dulux has let the agency go and is now moving away from using a global advertising agency to implement its advertising strategy and instead is giving local markets responsibility for their own campaigns.

This is an excellent move and will hopefully just be the start as other companies such as Patek Philippe, Audi, Lexus, Cartier to name but a few, are all wasting money on traditional mass market global advertising campaigns that may make sense in one market but do little for the brand in others.

Is positioning still relevant today? Part three


Here are some thought starters related to my belief that positioning is generally a pointless exercise:

According to Industry Week magazine, 70% of today’s manufactured goods will be obsolete in six years. There are estimated to be more than 30,000 new product introductions in the US alone every year, just in the packaged goods market. According to AC Nielsen, up to 90% of products fail. This means that as many as 27,000 of those new products will fail.

Despite approximately US$1.5 trillion spent on marketing annually and over US$500 million spent on advertising alone in the US, the annual US based “Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey 2007”, found that unaided, 77% of respondents could not name one of the top 50 new products of 2007, even if it was a strong well recognised brand.

The development of a positioning strategy takes time and the communication of that ‘position’ will be the responsibility of an advertising agency and that agency will, generally speaking use mass media to communicate the position.

With such short life times and high failure rates, isn’t it time companies reviewed the tools/tactics/strategies/channels etc that they are using to build brands? Don’t they owe it to their shareholders, investors, customers, the environment to do something about this?

What do you think?