A Friday afternoon Summer Musing….
Summary: Marketing has become a non-stop process in a world of 24-hour cable channels, mobile devices and smart phones. I confess to having a bit of a dual persona, having spent my work life in both sales and marketing careers. I thought I’d take a look back, share a little personal history, and where I think marketing is headed.
First a note. It would have been quite easy to insert the current US presidential campaign into this post as merely another example of marketing gone amok. But just like sports and religion, it’s a place I know not to go to avoid any risk of alienating my followers and/or friends. I’ll leave that topic to your own consideration.
The long and winding blue road….
I recall a meeting in 1988, a new business unit was being formed called Application Software Marketing (IBM called sales people marketing people for some strange reason). I saw that as a chance to move into a real sales role having been in services since getting hired. As I developed my territory strategy, I realized that the marketing materials we were using didn’t add any value. I was selling PC operating systems like PC-DOS and OS/2 (Bonus points if you remember OS/2) and an assortment of PC applications like DisplayWrite, an IBM-tortured editor made from the core code of the DisplayWriter. Our marketing material consisted of a single 2 sided, 1-page paper collateral that wasn’t doing any more than detailing speeds, feeds and a lot of legalease.
I discover marketing can be cool…
It so happened that I had a friend who was in the T-Shirt business back then. I convinced my manager to let me expense $200 for 40 shirts for an upcoming OS/2 demo event. When you sell software via live demos, you are part showman, part sales expert. So tossing a T-shirt into the audience for an answer to a softball question was easy, and VERY effective. And then to see them pop up every once and awhile on someone’s back in NYC? I mean, how cool was that? The division hired a trinkets aka premium items firm to do this on a broader scale and suddenly we had OS/2 water bottles, jackets, t-shirts (always XL for some reason), and the old Comdex favorites like the stress ball and day-glow highlighters. My love for marketing awakens. Remember, this is still the early 90’s.
2002 movie explores Marketing future
Here’s a clip from Minority Report, a movie made in 2002 starring Tom Cruise as a law enforcement agent set-up by his boss. (Note:14-year old movie spoiler alert. Retinal scans are used to track everyone everywhere in society, so Tom has new eyes).
Marketing is Everywhere!
Fast forward 14 years. Today, if you ask an average consumer, marketing still means advertising. Social media has become a new infomercial platform led predominantly by blue logos. Who doesn’t know the meaning of a bluebird, a blue thumbs up or the word “in” inside a blue box? Put another way, LIKES on Facebook merely co-opted As Seen On TV for credibility.
When it comes to team sports, nearly 40% of Americans watch NFL football, beating baseball and basketball combined. Marketing is a huge part of the experience whether in-person or at home. Now that pre-season football has started, pay close(r) attention to the Gatorade towels. Note the Microsoft Surfaces being used by coaches wearing Bose headsets. August 29th is the start of US Open Tennis. IBM, a long-time sponsor, and Apple teamed up for “SlamTracker” which presents stats on matches in progress, real-time and historical player data. With a little BI software, could one predict the outcome before the players are even on the field? It’s omnipresent. The 8-bar logo shows the speed of each volley. You can call it product placement, but I still call it marketing.
The Future – Marketing finds you..
I foresee this going ever further to gain share of your wallet. In my dusty but trusty crystal ball, technology will push marketing based on proximity via GPS coordinates. Can’t you imagine driving down an Interstate and the network attached watch you’re wearing knows the last time you had something to eat. It vibrates and you hear “Ed! The Golden Arches knows you’re hungry and welcomes you in 2.2 miles at Exit 130”.
Follow me on Wayz and I’ll meet you there! Life, it’s all just marketing.
Tell me what you think.
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