BzzAgent’s Dave Balter discussed some of his views on the future of marketing with our friends at the FutureM Conference. You can read the interview and share your thoughts here or on the FutureM event blog.
What role has technology played in shaping the transformation of the marketing industry?
Direct access to consumers. Previously, engaging with your customer base was a 2-dimensional exercise. You had an address database and sent postcards and catalogs or an email list and sent offers. Now, it’s a 3-dimensional proposition: your customers are communicating all around you, via twitter and Facebook and blogs, and thousands of tools have been developed to allow marketers to have direct dialogues.
This has created a new era in marketing. Marketers must now earn trust with consumers by understanding their needs and aligning with their natural behavior… without trying to drastically change it. When consumers feel that companies are honest with them and provide the additional value when they need it, they’ll want to hear their messages. They’ll also want to tell their friends and online connection about their experience. This has made marketing a much better place for both marketers and consumers.
What’s the number one new rule of engagement for marketing today?
Authenticity. Consumers expect companies to tell the truth and be open to criticism. Today’s consumer is empowered with a variety of tools to share their opinions immediately and without restraint. The expectation is that marketers will listen, but in their response they will be receptive to the needs of the consumer and to working on their behalf.
This has always been a critical component of BzzAgent’s programs, which are designed to accelerate the authentic elements of word of mouth. We set out to create a construct where we could connect the right people with the right brands and let them share their opinions whenever and however they want. The key for us was to create a transparent environment for both marketers and consumers.
What is your number one piece of advice for a soon-to-be college graduate studying marketing?
Know the difference between building followers and friends and using tools effectively. The future won’t be just about how many people are in your network, but how you can use a variety of technologies and disciplines to create content that matters. Since we’re all connected, if you create valuable content, it will spread on its own, regardless of your own network’s size.
Water is to a fish as [what] is to a marketer?
Expertise at creative implementations and media placement has been replaced by the ability to gather information and knowledge and sharing it effectively. Today’s marketer is responsible for knowing what consumers are doing at any time – what the memes are, where people are communicating, what they’re saying. The more they understand these components, the better they are at creating executions that are embraced and can generate value.
Does Boston’s business community have an edge on other business communities in other cities? What is it?
At the core of this City is an incredibly vibrant startup scene that has moved beyond the fact that we have great Universities and Venture Capital.
I was at WebInno #27 recently, and came away incredibly impressed with the 1,000+ audience, the energy and the business models. People are working hard to develop new ideas and to creating platforms for sharing them and building them. There’s Pop Signal events and Tech Stars and Level 11 and Microsoft’s NERD center and Beta House and Dart Boston…the result is a grassroots startup economy that will enable hundreds of great businesses to move from the seed of an idea into operating entities. It’s a very exciting time to be developing a startup in Boston.
Has there been a moment in your career that you thought you weren’t going to make it? What was it? Why did you succeed in spite of it?
Every single day. I believe fear is a critical component of every Entrepreneur and CEOs DNA. Fear of not seeing and adapting to change fast enough. Fear of not finding and retaining the best talent possible. Fear of not servicing clients in a way that makes them want to come back.
Success comes from embracing the Fear and doing something about it. Not letting it paralyze you, but rather thriving off the adrenaline that it provides.
Look at your planner for Oct. 4…what are you doing?
Eating a fully balanced breakfast (oatmeal, pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns, juice, and coffee) so I’ve got the energy for a great FutureM event. Care to join me?