Marketing has been around since the dawn of trade, where business owners promoted their products and services hoping to persuade consumers to trust them and buy.
However, with technological advancements in recent years, do 'traditional' marketing techniques still have a place for today's businesses?
We look at how the marketing landscape has changed, and the new challenges businesses face in engaging with their market.
From snake oil salesmen to user reviews
Before the digital age, marketing to consumers was predominantly focused on displaying a product or service in the best light and gaining their trust. Clients often made a purchase based on how the product or service was presented to them, and other than by word of mouth, consumers had no way of sharing their experiences.
Since the introduction of the web and particularly social media, potential buyers have instant access to hundreds or thousands of client reviews. We instinctively trust the experience of others over a sales spiel.
Empowered with this information, there is no need to base the decision-making process solely on what salespeople say.
Brand awareness then and now
Nowadays it's difficult to imagine getting the word out about your business, or its latest product or service, without going online. Although newspapers and magazines are still in circulation today, most younger-generation demographic groups (primarily Millennials and Gen Z) prefer a digital approach.
Naturally, successful business owners need to be where their potential consumers are, and although marketing methods and tools have evolved, goals remain unchanged. Improving brand awareness, selling more products/services and growing are at the heart of most business' sales and marketing strategy.
With the help of tools such as email and text marketing systems, CRM software, online advertising and analytics, businesses can easily pinpoint their target audience, send them appropriate messages and track the effectiveness of their campaigns.
Influencers and the use of emotion
One of the most widely-used marketing methods still in use today is the use of emotional images to connect with consumers. Though this tactic has been around since the earliest days of marketing, it is still used by almost every brand.
In the most simple example, the product or service is advertised by a smiling image of a happy, satisfied consumer. This sends a powerful message to potential customers. A celebrity endorsement can have a similar effect.
Today, thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, businesses can reach out to their target audience using established online personalities ('influencers') with a large audience. In this way the brand can 'piggyback' on that person's popularity and reach.
For most businesses, the rise of digital technologies does not only mean changing marketing tactics, but improving the way in which their marketing engages with modern consumers. Social media not only connects people to people, but also brands to people.