How marketing is being re-invented in an empowered age

At the recent Publicis Africa Group (PAG) conference, I had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategist of Publicis Groupe, on the topic of ‘How marketing is being re-invented in an empowered age’.

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He highlighted that one of the biggest challenges facing the marketing and communications industry is the increasing adoption of smartphones.

Internet penetration on smartphones is 30% in the United States, while in India 65% use smartphones to surf the web and 76% of people on the African continent use a smartphone to access the internet.

With the increasing use of smartphones, the cost of these devices is likely to drop quite significantly in the future - meaning that even more people will be connected to the internet.

Tobaccowala refers to this era as an ‘empowered age’ because the smartphone has provided consumers with the technology to make or break a brand.

Just think about your life right now – you probably use TripAdvisor, or something similar, to choose a hotel or restaurant and Rotten Tomatoes before deciding what movie to watch. Before purchasing a product, you are more likely to conduct some online research and read a few product reviews before completing the purchase.

In light of this, Tobaccowala points out that brands need to think about marketing in a different way.

Features such as search, social media and peer reviews mean that essentially consumers are marketing to themselves. Marketers need to know how to facilitate this process to gain brand credibility.

Tobaccowala provides some advice on how to succeed in this rapidly changing environment.

• One of the biggest mistakes marketing managers make is creating a three or five year plan. Rapid change no longer allows for this. Learning to adapt to tomorrow’s challenges is key. He advises 85% of our focus should be on today’s tasks and 15% on tomorrow’s tasks, but without today’s metrics. We need to ask ourselves what we would do differently tomorrow if we were to launch a competitive brand? Marketing plans need to be adaptable and spontaneous to ensure success in this ever changing world.

• Reverse mentor. Get people in your organisation to teach you stuff. You cannot be an expert in everything and there are people in your organisation that are better at certain things than you. Drop the arrogance and ask for help.

• Spend time every day, if possible, learning new things. The key to surviving tomorrow is to create a new mind set.

In closing, I completely agree with Tobaccowala’s advice and was truly inspired by his insights. I think we can all leverage these tips in both our personal and professional lives.

I leave you with a quote from Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”.