Von R. Glitschka once said “Marketing without design is lifeless, and design without marketing is mute.”
In today’s world, where everything is a click away, I think this can be paraphrased to “Marketing without technology is obsolete and technology without marketing is inert.”
What exactly do I mean by that? Let’s start with the first part, ‘marketing without technology is obsolete’. Technology has made the world an incredibly small place, long-distance communication used to take months, now it’s nearly instantaneous. Copious amounts of data (any kind you want!) are now available at the click of a button. Computers and phones can do things the were unimaginable last year, and seemingly impossible 20 years ago. New advancements in technology are made on what seems like an hourly basis. So what does this mean for marketers? It means we can utilize technology to target campaigns with laser-like focus. The old adage “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” is no longer a concern. Gone are the days of billboards and other print media only to be seen by people who live/work in certain geographies, or parts of a city. Poorly-targeted TV and radio commercials? Not anymore. It also means the world is your market place. Small businesses that used to cater strictly to hyper-local markets are no shipping their products globally. What would have been a tiny brick-and-mortar store 30 years ago can now become an internationally renowned eCommerce site. So let’s take a look at a couple examples of how technology has helped marketing efforts:
- GoPro – These guys have built an empire. They were first to market (which we all know helps dominate), but more importantly, they’ve done so without spending a dime on ‘traditional advertising’. Yet, somehow, they managed to sell 3.8 million units in 2013. So how did they do this? By leveraging technology, specifically, YouTube, where they currently have just shy of 3 million subscribers. It’s incredibly easy to share your recent wingsuit adventure, which of course involved no less than 3 GoPros attached to the flyer. Essentially, every POV (point of view) video on the internet right now is a commercial for GoPro, none of which were paid for by the company – even if it was filmed using a competitor’s camera, when you’re watching, you’re probably thinking “I should really get myself a GoPro”. It’s become the defacto term for ‘adventure cam’ and will continue to grow without dropping mountains of cash on expensive TV ads or extensive traditional marketing campaigns.
- Uber – Yes, another reference to Uber. We all know that content is king, but what’s even more royal is when you tailor your content to specific markets. And Uber has done just that, they’ve created specialized blogs for each of their world-wide markets. This content personalization means they get to test different strategies in different places at the same time. Why serve up the same content to someone in England as someone in San Francisco? They don’t even drive on the same side of the road! Technology has enabled Uber to speak the language (figuratively and literally) of the people they are marketing to, and it’s made it possible to accomplish this feat in a cost-effective and timely manner. This kind of content delivery system would have been impossible two decades ago.
So, what about “technology without marketing is inert” piece? If you’ve used any type of technology, hardware or software, in the past decade, there’s a pretty good chance it’s because there was good marketing behind it. Whether it’s your iPad, your favorite cloud storage service, or even something as simple as your online banking tools, there was probably a solid marketing strategy to deliver that tech to you. A wonderfully developed and designed eCommerce store won’t sell a thing without a proper search engine marketing game plan; SEO PPC, etc. Here’s a few examples of what I mean:
- iPhone – This is obviously a revolutionary piece of technology (in terms of both hardware & software) that may not have made it without the right strategy. You can build the coolest device in the world, but if no one knows about it, what’s the point? Investing in engineers to build such a device is just as important as investing the creatives/marketers that will announce the accomplishments of said engineers to the world and convince them they need to rush out and buy one immediately. Clearly, Apple has done a fantastic job of marketing with these devices, for proof, check out the lines outside the stores the night before a new release. While Apple’s marketing strategy typically uses traditional channels such as billboards and TV ads, it’s obviously worked out for them and therefore they didn’t waste any money on their product development team.
- Dropbox – This is clearly an awesome use of technology on the software side of things, but how did a small start up become the dominating force in cloud storage? Great. Marketing. You’ve probably noticed that when you sign up for a Dropbox account, you’re prompted to do 2 things- refer your friends, and connect your social media profiles. Why? Growth and exposure. Every time you refer a friend, you get another half a gig of storage, so yes, of course I will refer my friends! They increased referrals by 60% simply by offering more storage, which costs them pennies on the dollar versus acquiring a new subscriber the old fashioned way. You can also get another 1/8 of a gig of storage for each social media profile you connect to your account. This not only provides an incentive to users in terms of storage, but it also makes sharing your Dropbox content significantly easier; you win twice, Dropbox wins once.
OK, but what’s the point of all this? The main thing I want to communicate with this post is that marketers need technology, i.e. engineers, programmers, developers, et al, and these people all need marketers to bring their products/services/creations to the world.