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The Future of Marketing

Image by Rosaura Ochoa

A friend of mine works at boutique marketing firm, and he’s convinced that the future of marketing is location-based apps.

His firm believes that Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Facebook Places and the like are where advertising is headed, and anyone not jumping head-first into this space is going to be left behind.

I’m not so sure.

While I think location-based advertising has the unique benefit of targeting an audience more selectively, I believe it’s just another tool in the marketer’s belt.

The real future of marketing is a paradigm shift in how we connect and interact with our customers. Location-based apps may be part of that shift… but only part of it.

The REAL Future of Marketing

I think the future of marketing is going to be defined by a three-step process:

  1. Provide the customer with an awesome experience.
  2. Make it easy for them to interact with (and be delighted by) you again.
  3. Make it easy for them to tell their friends about it.

Let’s explore these in more detail…

1. Awesome Experience

Between globalization, the internet, and the mobile web, competing on price is a losing battle. The real way to stand out is to provide a better experience.

That may mean more knowledge and courteous staff. It may mean a product that’s better designed and easier to use. It may mean little extra details that exceed a customer’s expectation. Whatever it is, you need to be better. Average isn’t cutting it.

This is the foundation of marketing.

It’s not an ad campaign. It’s not getting the right info into the right hands at the right time (it’s those things too, but they come later). It’s being awesome first.

2. Keep Interacting

Most permission-based marketing right now is very one-sided.

Can I have your email address? We'll send you coupons!

The problem is, many marketers don’t just send coupons. They send obnoxious volumes of sales copy. They violate consumer trust and sell email addresses to third parties.

So you ask, and I say no. Opportunity lost.

What if instead you just gave someone a coupon? No email needed. No expiration date. Just use it next time you come in.

Or what if you added value to their purchase? Someone buys a camera and you provide a web-portal or a newsletter that helps them take better photos. They buy a cooking set and you provide them with a free cookbook.

No sales copy included. No flashy advertising. Just a subtle logo reminding them every time they use how awesome you were and how much they’d love to interact with you again.

3. Telling friends

Here’s where that “right info, right time” thing comes in.

Because the right info is anything nice a current customer has to say about you. And the right time is any time they tell one of their friends. What my friends say about you is so much more important to me than what you say about you.

You know that coupon you gave me? What if it was a gift certificate for two, so I’d bring a friend back? That web-portal? What about an easy-to-click button so I can send it to my friend who hasn’t purchased a camera yet but might like to? What about online recipes to go with the cookbook so I can send them to my friends?

I think this fundamental shift in how we interact with people will be the future of marketing. What do you think?