shutterstock_84493219.jpg

During the last 50 years or so, the marketing process has largely stayed the same. Since the advent of digital multichannel engagement however, marketing has become a real-time endeavor. Customers are everywhere, even if you aren’t. People are talking 24/7 and listening to what they’re saying is crucial. This week the Vocus Demand Success conference aims to discover what the brave new world of new media holds. 

The Story of Marketing is Hard to Tell

At the beginning of the keynote, Vocus presented a video montage featuring some of the most well known marketing strategy folks, who offered up their marketing definitions. Seth Godin says “marketing is advertising” while Geoff Livingston says that "Social turns into an empowerment strategy for brands." It was clear that there isn’t one definition for what marketing is today. As a result, telling its story is much harder, which is funny because having a story to tell is one of the most important element of any marketing campaign.

What marketing is for B2Bs, will be different for what it is for small businesses, non-profits, or multi-national corporations. For Vocus, this presents an interesting challenge. While there is not a singular operating system for marketing, Vocus aims to come as close as possible, offering a variety of solutions for email, social media and publicity.

People (Still) Matter

The era of the empowered employee is hardly over. However, sometimes the message can be lost when we’re slobbering over the latest technology or trying to streamline our business workflows. Arianna Huffington, the morning's keynote, reminded us to invest in our human capital. Hiring the right people is not just about those with the right credentials, but also about those who demonstrate a genuine passion, empathy and work ethic. Just as investing in the wrong technology can be detrimental, the wrong people can be toxic to an organization, as well. 

Healthy Idealism Exists

Some marketing conferences are inherently cynical. They’ll tell you that marketing is a 24/7 endeavor. It’s only for millennials, not for those with families or those us who grew up without instant internet access. At Vocus, the sentiment couldn’t be more different. During her keynote, Huffington scolded us for multi-tasking, strongly encouraged us to get more sleep (without our cell phone next to us) and to unplug as often as we can. If there were eye rolls or a collective “yeah right" muttered under the breath they were definitely among the minority. Her calls for nap rooms, tech vacations and a better work life balance were met with a fervor of applause. 

Whether it's because more of us in the room are leaning in, or because digital marketing is at a tipping point, there's seems to be a healthy dose of idealism motivating us to achieve what Huffington calls "Less Stress, More Living." 

More Mindful Marketing Needed

However, the push for a better work/life balance presents a unique juxtaposition. As people we’re waging a war against multi-tasking, but as marketers we’re in a constant pursuit of more content, more stories to push out across more channels so consumers can consume more. I asked You Mon Tsang, acting CMO at Vocus about this and he suggested that it’s not that we need to multi-task less; it’s that we need to be more thoughtful about the tasks we’re performing. We’re never going to stop emailing, tweeting and texting, he says, but we can improve the communications we have by taking the time to give our full attention when it’s due.

Such sentiments were echoed by Jay Rosen during his presentation about Digital Journalism in Flux. His rules for digital journalism are based on common sense fundamentals like “Don’t be a jerk” or “See if it’s true before you say it is." Furthermore, by incorporating Joe Pulizzi’s advice that “the #1 reason content marketing fails is because brands don't give it enough time to work,” marketers can learn to slow down professionally, as well as personally.

“No social stability without individual stability.”

Aldous Huxley may have been right. And if these are indeed the indicators of the brave new world of new media, marketers everywhere can take heed in knowing that we won't be slaves to new and evolving technologies for much longer. It may be possible to rewrite the rules, simply by living and communicating more thoughtfully, online and off.