There is much debate going on about media. I've been reading about it from a variety of point of views. Albert Wenger, a venture capitalist, posted recently about brand advertising. The Ad Contrarian claimed the reports of the death of TV are exaggerated. Tech Crunch explained why web based advertising is failing. On the surface these posts are unrelated but have everything to do with one another. The unifying theme is what the future relationships between brands and consumers will look like.
Despite differing points of view I hope we can all agree on one thing, the way consumers send and receive media has changed dramatically and will continue to do so. The traditional mode of reaching consumers isn't adapting quick enough to keep up. We must accept consumer attention can no longer simply be purchased. There are too many options and unwanted messaging is easily avoidable.
If I were a CMO today I'd long for the day when my strategy consisted of buying time on M*A*S*H* and taking out a full page spread in Time magazine. It was a one stop shopping formula to reaching a mass spectrum of consumers. Today, the opportunities to capture a devout and attentive audience are rare with the exception of the occasional event program (Superbowl, Oscars, American Idol Finale). This doesn't mean the consumer is elusive. In fact, the irony is consumers have never been easier to find but never harder to reach
As I see it brand/consumer relationship is analogous to that of a married man to his mistress. For years the affair was a simple proposition. He wined and dined her. Bought her jewelery. Paid her rent. In return he got laid and left guilt free at the end of the evening. After years of this pattern, the mistress begins to feel used and unsatisfied. She desires more than material goods. She wants conversation. She wants to be listened to. She wants to be in a relationship. Much to the displeasure of the adulterer, sex can no longer be bought. It has to be earned. I believe the same thing is happening today with the brand/consumer relationship. Brands must earn consumers time not simply purchase it. The problem is they don't know how and don't seem eager to learn.
The first step is to stop the monologue and begin a dialogue. Start listening and responding. Marketers understand TV, radio and print. They remain effective but no longer as dominant. No need to abandon them. However, brands need to become equally adept at mastering the language of social networking, blogging and online content. This begins with investment in new business models. Accept more will fail than succeed. Unfortunately the only method of determining the ones that work is by putting the resources and will behind them. The brands that invest in unlocking the code will develop genuine relationships with their customers, as well they should. They earned it.