What has changed about marketing in the last 100 years

This is going to be shocking. Get ready.

The only thing that has changed about marketing in the past 100 years is technology. That’s it. Yes, we now have social media and tweets and followers and apps and branding and re-marketing and analytics and focus groups and ROI and segmentation and customer experiences and digital and… you get the picture. It’s all certainly true. But, what has enabled every bit of it is technology.

My point is this: marketing still boils down to people, not technology. And it’s your choice to either use technology as a tool to better market to people or to use it to your distraction.

I look around everyday and see plenty of examples of how all the new, emerging and ever-changing technology landscape has made supposed marketing experts out to be nothing more than professional distractors. They hock media and analytical innovation and new tactical methods of reaching customers. Yet, I see little tangible demonstration of a basic understanding of what marketing really means. It’s all about the chase. Panic and peer pressure set in and companies pursue the latest and the greatest technologically-based marketing tactics – all with little reverence or clue as to what they’re ultimately trying to effect. They see the cost of everything (if it’s free or cheap or has a low cost per whatever, we must adopt it), and the value of virtually nothing.

Marketing must ultimately get the product or service into the hands of the customer – a real person. It doesn’t mean clicks or awareness or likes or experiential brand enlightenment or even feeling good about a brand. I’m not condemning any of these things. I’m simply saying that it is way too easy to distract ourselves (via technology) away from what is centrally important in marketing. – generating a sale to a real person and, hopefully, repeating that process again and again to her or his delight.

I read recently that a marketing strategy is not so much about a plan, but a system. Build your marketing (including the sale) around a strategically-based, customer-centric system, and technology becomes a true and valuable tool, not a distraction.