Friday, August 8, 2008

Thinking Outside What Box?

Today There Is No Status Quo

By David Miranda

It's high time we "86ed" the concept of "thinking outside the box", the "box". of course, referring to the status quo. Today in marketing, there is no status quo and, therefore, no "box" to "think out of".

Not long ago, the media status quo was comprised and dominated by three major broadcast networks; terrestial radio; local newspapers; magazines; direct mail; telemarketing; point-of-sale, and billboards. This was "the box".

In a relatively short period of time, we have witnessed, not an evolution, but a revolution in the seemingly limitless permutations and combinations of media that has enabled anyone and everyone to determine their own media consumption patterns, i.e. where they get their news, entertainment, sports, business information. In short how they choose to interact with the rest of the world. If you want to reach new or existing customers, ambush marketing won't work. They will TIVO, pop-up ad filter, spam filter, Do Not Call and Do Not Mail list you with a check mark, a mouse click, or a TV remote. Knock, knock. Nobody's home.

Broadcast television has seen the successful entry of Fox with the most successful broadcast program of all time, American Idol, not to mention Fox's success in major sports programming. Cable and satellite companies have increased the number of channels delivered from three to hundreds, not to mention video on demand. Craig's List have wrestled classified ad business from newspapers. Google and others have invented a better search mousetrap that the Yellow Pages. eBay has digitized the yard sale to worldwide proportions. The mobile device has allowed consumers to talk, search, text, take pictures and movies, and email 24/7. Blogs, social networking sites, and the YouTubes of the world have enabled consumers to instantly "communitize" with just a few friends or with the rest of the world. New technology has enabled anyone to be anything from a movie maker to a journalist to a business mogul all with only a computer, some software, a high-speed connection, and their imagination - and with wi-fi, from anywhere and anytime.

In other words, the "box" has been boxed and put away in the attic of history.

Success today and for the future will require marketers to zero-base their thinking. Newspapers and magazines, for example, need to understand that they are in the news and information business, not the paper printing business to keep and build their audience (and advertising base). Movie studios are in the entertainment business, not in the business of producing content just for movie theaters or DVD. Music labels are not in the producing CD business; they are in the finding and development of talent business and finding an audience who wants to buy it business however they want to consume it.

Marketers are in the "getting more people to buy more products and services more often to make more money" business, not the campaign creation and execution business. The latter is simply a means to the end.

What business are you really in? Who are your current and prospective customers? How do they want to be communicated to? interacted with?

The time has passed to play with boxes.