A lot has changed over the last century of marketing. It exists everywhere we look at and we may not even recognize it most of the time. Let’s try to figure it out. Philip Kotler defined marketing as ‘satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process’. Marketing is the way companies interact with consumers to create relationships that are beneficial to both parties. Businesses use marketing to identify their audience before advertising to them and then come up with different marketing strategies to attract consumers.
Marketing is commonly believed to have progressed through five distinct phases of evolution since the beginning of time: the simple trade era, the production era, the sales era and then the marketing era. The last of these, Marketing era emerged once the concept of marketing became widely accepted. The marketing concept in brief contends that business exist to address customer needs. That is, the customer is the focus of our business endeavours. All the employees became part of marketing effort, either directly or indirectly and customer became the king. This is when the concepts of internal, relationship, performance and integrated marketing got its definitions and is precisely what is typically taught in various B-schools today.
But Marketing era, as defined, is no longer plain and simple. It has transformed and evolved over years to customize as per the changes in the world around. Today, this is most visible through social media interactions and contests. Has this definition of marketing changed over the years? Has marketing evolved over years? Well, the answer to it is –No, marketing hasn’t changed over years, but the means of marketing most certainly have. Large, sweeping events have changed the way people, businesses, industries, and countries function. In this day and age, technology is developing so rapidly that changes are occurring all across the board. Faster internet, digital photography and interactive programs are all making advertising and marketing much easier in the ever expanding world of consumerism. With all these new advances, there are bound to be numerous changes.
Cultural changes have also had a strong impact on marketing. 100 years ago (and maybe not even half a century ago), we wouldn’t have seen scantily-clad women in advertisements selling products because it was socially unacceptable to look at or display such sexual imagery. Technology is being optimally used to develop new techniques to improve revenue and ROI. Blogging is being done to attract customers and increase gains. All these reflect the ever changing pace of marketing using technology.
As the world has changed, organisations have got various channels to market itself, but this shift has also posed a number of challenges in the marketing field. Today consumers’ often skip advertisements on TV, read fewer physical newspapers and magazines and get the vast majority of their information online. Consumers have much more power in determining how and what they see. Even Facebook advertisements can be hidden; so we never see another ad from any given advertiser in our news feed again. In short, for every piece of unwanted junk mail, there is always a garbage can. For every television advertisement, there is always a remote control so it is solely up to the customer – they can choose which marketing messages they receive, when, where, and from whom.
Marketing is constantly evolving to meet these changing dynamics. We’re now in the era of relationship marketing, where brands are increasingly moving away from mass-market and broadcast advertising. Instead they are succeeding by using digital technologies to develop lasting, one-on-one relationships with their customers. A common theme in marketing circles today is that there’s been a monumental shift in how marketing works. In a world with Google and Facebook, marketing consciousness has certainly shifted from interruption to inbound.
The present phase in which intangible things are becoming increasingly valuable in the web-centric world, from text to music to computer programs to independent film and beyond, is the era where digital marketing is gaining prominence and relationship management is evolving as the game changer. To quote an example, Artists and developers create a product and release it online for free, marketing it without an actual budget and without any associative imagery relying on internet and other digital tools, with the only motive to reach out to wider audience. A customer-centric and competitively dominant marketing strategy was, is and will always be vital to business success. It is just that the route to market in the world has changed. Digital marketing is evolving so rapidly that the organisations are wooing customers through the new means by deserting the traditional methods. This is the nascent stage of Digital Marketing Era.