Great marketing has a strong visual component, even the great long form ads from the days before TV. Always has been, always will be.
Sometimes that ‘visual’ are the pictures that you form in your mind as a result of hearing something, which is why radio was, and still should be, a great communication medium, sometimes it is a great photo, video, or piece of printed material that speaks to just you.
Creativity and design are a huge part of this mix.
All the tools around are convincing us that we can design stuff ourselves, just as we all seem to believe that we are photographers, just because we have a great little camera in our pockets all the time, or writers, because we can easily publish our scribblings on a multitude of channels.
Owning a saw does not make you a carpenter.
Part of the problem is that most so-called marketers know so very little about marketing any more. They do know about the tools, the algorithms, and sometimes bits of the martech stack, but little about the human reactions, relationships and intimacies that make for effective communication, the sort that does not bludgeon you into doing something, but those that deliver a message that resonates as if it was a personally addressed letter.
As an aside, I bought a book of stamps for the first time in a long while last week.. a buck a stamp. I was shocked, and my first reaction was ‘no wonder we are all going digital’ but my second was, ‘what an opportunity to be different, and get an almost 100% open rate, for just a dollar!’
The tech bunnies, headed by top bunny Facebook are doubling down on video, recognising the power. They are right to be doing this for commercial reasons, they are the advertising platforms of the 21st century, although the demise of TV particularly is grossly overstated, as old mate Bob Hoffman loves to point out. However, the users of the platform are being grossly manipulated in order to be a more marketable commodity that the platforms can sell to advertisers. Most of the users are largely blissfully unaware of their algorithmically manipulated experience, and I am increasingly uncomfortable about the ‘brand morality’ of this sad fact.
They are just eyeballs being wholesaled by the platforms for profit. At least with a TV you can grab the remote and change the channel, or go make a cup of tea.
I wonder if in the long term they will not look back as see that they have broken the moral component of the foundations of a brand.
Facebook particularly is aggressively using their huge base to be continually testing, adding features, and renovating older ones in order to maximise ad revenue. It is pretty easy to be taken in by the often published numbers, but sometimes a dose of reality would be useful, as highlighted in February’s MUmBRELLA article.
Bob Hoffman was right again.
This Social Media Examiner podcast has Mari Smith outlining what Facebook is doing, and is worth the 40 minutes, and a scan of the show notes and links .
Back to where I started.
As marketers, we have a responsibility to both those who pay us, and those who listen to and act on what we suggest to them. We need to consider the foundation skills of our craft, to react in a human way, to reflect the wisdom and experience coming from the humanity around us, rather than taking that feedback and running it through a bunch of algorithms to get the most clinical outcome.
As AI augmented AI, and machine learning continue to make inroads, they will consume the repetitive tasks in every job, but are a very long way from replacing the emotion and humanity that turns a slab of copy into a compelling call to action.
In answer to the question posed in the headline, Yes!
In time, mediocre, mass marketing may be executed by algorithms, but in a highly personalised world, that will not be good enough.
Image credit: Once again, Hugh McLeod at the Gaping void.