It’s 2186. Everyone has a computer chip implanted in his or her brain. This allows thousands of minds to collaborate on projects such as Lifebots that allow people to live hundreds of years or longer, and figure out how to program plant DNA to grow structures that reach 62 miles to the edge of space. At least that’s the future in my 2008 science fiction novel, Elevator 37. Two factors helped to originate the idea of this form of collaboration: Microsoft SharePoint, and crowd-source marketing. We see an example of the crowd at work on blog-post LEGO, BUT NOT MY EGGO. How farfetched is the idea? Follow this link to BrainSwarming: Because Brainstorming Doesn’t Work.
Pace of Change
Considering how computers have changed, Braniac, Univac’s first computer in 1952, IBMoved from the mainframe to the mid-range AS400, to personal computers. Now we have tablets, smartphones, and Google glasses. In addition, we have wrist-smart phones, now. Where will this take us? Considering Moore’s Law, and the miniaturization that occurs, that chip in the brain might not be too far off.
If we get the chip in our brains, our thoughts might be deluged with intrusive advertisements all day, and all night. That represents disaster. Somehow, the message recipients must have the ability to control the messages, even on the smartphones, Google glasses, and wristwatch computers, else pandemonium will rule. That middle of the night ad for suds detergent must go. That users need to control the inputs suggests they will select brands to follow and that some form of crowdsourcing will prevail. The crowd will rally around brands. Social media will fill the role of the strange attractor, as in chaos theory.
A Return to Humanity
There is one important issue. Technology can only take marketers so far. Researching human behavior will take the lead position in the marketing effort. A recent Harvard Business Review article, An Anthropologist Walks into a Bar, speaks to this issue. A major European brewery with great store sales lagged behind the competition in bars and pubs. After conventional research failed to deliver the answer, they turned to anthropologists to conduct ethnographic studies.
The researchers visited the drinking establishments, observed the people, and produced 150 hours of videos. The patterns indicated that most of the promotional materials held little value; female servers resented the playfulness required for the job, and felt trapped. Armed with this information, the brewery customized promotional items for different kinds of establishments and educated salespeople to know each bar owner (target market) better. They used the bar owners’ input to create promotions. In addition, they trained the staff about its brands, and provided taxi service for employees who worked late. Sales rebounded.
The Harvard Business Review is not alone. The June 2014, American Marketing Association concurs. In an article, senior staff writer, Christine Birkner says, “…when it comes to researching customer behavior, there’s no better method than direct observation” (Birkner, 2014, p. 23).
Both articles recommend ethnographic studies to gain the best comprehension of the target market, which is where it all begins. The conclusion is that while technology is a wonderful tool, directly observing human behavior matters more. This provides a better understanding of what the customer really wants.
Uses in Social Media Marketing
Whether utilizing traditional marketing or social media channels, marketers can use this information to fine-tune their marketing communications efforts.
Findings for the Future
- Marketers cannot rely completely on technology as the be-all, end-all solution to marketing their products and services.
- As Kotler and Keller write, “Marketing planning begins with formulating an offering to meet target market needs or wants” (Marketing management, 2012, p. 347).
- Understand the target market. Human behavior matters.
- Know which communication channels will reach the market. Don’t rule out traditional forms of marketing that may be effective. Read, Most Millennials’ Store Choices Influenced by Print Media for a revelation. A Nielson study says that most millennials state that print media affects their store choices.
- Create great messages.
It appears that social media technology is an extension of the marketing effort, and the wise marketer begins with the target market and its behavior. Traditional marketing still holds sway in the marketplace; don’t abandon it—yet. Social media amplifies the message when used properly.