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If advertising, as we’ve known it, is dead…then what’s the future look like for ad professionals?

July 2, 2013

We’re not dead – but some of us are not feeling very well. We had better get busy finding out what’s alive and well in this business today. For an affirmation of what The Brand Establishment’s leadership has been talking about for some time, check out this recent Fast Company article:

Customer connection is not a new idea, but the new approaches to how it’s accomplished are.

In the early stages of this industry’s evolution, we connected with audiences through media strategies. We studied customer demographics, audience segmentation, researched media analytics and negotiated “value added” opportunities, then crafted messages that we thought best persuaded qualified buyers – listening, reading or viewing our ads – to purchase our clients’ offerings.

This was, and still is, simply monologue – we speak, you listen and then respond. Today, according to Marty Neumeier, in his book, The Brand Gap, it takes dialogue to connect with customers. Dialogue is the opportunity to develop trust between your brand and your customers, employees, suppliers, and even influencers, such as the media. Done well – and price will no longer be a big measurement of your value.

And if you believe, as we do, in the philosophy of Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, that a customer would rather do business with you because of who you are, than what you do, then it’s easy to see that dialogue is the only really effective way to accomplish this.

The Fast Company article cites the work of a small telecommunications firm in the Philippines who repurposed old SIM cards by saving textbook data onto them and distributing them to children in need of a better education. And by understanding what is most important to their audience – their children – they made the customer connection that no ad campaign could make.

Now, Star Communications, the Philippine firm, didn’t stop advertising in some of the traditional ways, but with the SIM card program, they demonstrated what the brand stands for, reached their audience in an unexpected way and gained awareness more brilliantly than any other integrated campaign they ever ran.

On a larger scale – and in a more “Cause Marketing” way, TOMS® Shoes has connected with their audience where the direct customer does not benefit personally but likes what One for One™ means and what TOMS stand for.

A personal aside: On my birthday last year I asked for a pair of TOMS sunglasses rather than a replacement for my long worn Ray Ban® Wayfarers™. I really like who TOMS is, what they do differently and why they do it.

Now, there are many, many more stories and case studies that establish the fact that brands must establish a customer dialogue connection to persuade this hyper-informed audience to purchase their offerings. And for us ad professionals, it is what’s alive and well in advertising today.
-Jim Hughes, Founder, The Brand Establishment

About The Brand Establishment

The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.