Marketing has changed tremendously in the last two years with the pressure of a global pandemic accelerating an already rapid growth cycle. As we enter 2022, it’s worth reflecting on where marketing was, where it is now, and where it’s going.
History of Marketing
To understand where we’re going, we have to understand where we came from. And to understand where we came from, we have to understand what exactly we mean when we use the term “marketing.”
Marketing in its most basic form is the process of communicating a message to an audience. In ancient times that looked like artwork on cave walls, papyrus scrolls, and long speeches from key leaders. Like other areas of civilization, however, marketing has continued to improve throughout the centuries. In the 1400s Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type. In the 1840s Samuel Morse invented the telegraph and by the mid-1900s radio, TV, and other “modern” marketing techniques were commonplace.
These changes, while groundbreaking for their time, pale in comparison to the changes that have occurred in the last 20 years. Where once marketing methods took decades to develop, the advent of the internet, the explosive growth of personal computers and mobile devices, and the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic have accelerated an already rapid technological revolution into warp speed.
Covid-19, Segmentation, and the Power of the Pivot.
2020 showed us just how real the online world could be as webinars took over in-person classes, events were held virtually or in a hybrid fashion, and work from home proved to be not only possible, but in many cases productive. Audiences that were once in malls, restaurants, and other public places have moved online, and ordering from home and interacting with the world in a “contactless” fashion were, and are, at an all-time high.
Early in the 2000s Experts had predicted that traditional marketing methods (think flyers, billboards, etc.) would slowly phase out and be replaced by digital marketing methods (think google ads, social media marketing, etc.). With the realities of a global pandemic, however, the digital world is here to stay with digital marketing surpassing traditional marketing.
This rise in online traffic, however, has consequences. A rapidly growing online audience has driven the segmentation of digital marketing channels faster than perhaps ever before. Where Facebook was once a novelty, it now exists as one social media platform of many. (Looking at you Pinterest, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, etc.) Each day individuals are faced with new content, new channels, new platforms, and new trends, and businesses are faced with an increasingly difficult task — reaching their audience in a cluttered online environment.
What’s more, the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over and the pressure of the digital age continues to intensify as businesses evolve to meet the needs of a pandemic world. In this climate, businesses have to pivot and pivot quickly. It’s safe to say that we may never return to “normal” as we knew it in February 2020, but as each day passes we learn more and more about how to engage with this new reality.
Opportunities and the Path Ahead
The true power of marketing lies in the power of the message and in your ability to communicate it well. In this new age of marketing, marketers must consider what they say and how they say it through a strategic lens. Researching your audience and learning where they are spending their time is key. More and more studies indicate that the modern attention span is getting shorter and in an already distracted world people are less likely to engage with content that doesn’t immediately connect with them. Knowing what channels (social media, blogs, email campaigns) work for your business will allow you to invest time and money into the things that will drive your business forward. Effective marketing in these next few years will rely heavily on data, metrics, and the ability to pivot your company in an ever-evolving world.
The future is uncertain and marketing is changing more quickly than perhaps anyone expected. Virtual reality is on the horizon and is already showing up in the largest marketing players (Facebook and Microsoft). The world after this pandemic is still being created, but just like ancient times, there will be new innovation and new opportunities for every business, nonprofit, and organization.
Cheers to 2022 and all the potential and the progress it holds.