We all know that Social media and user generated content has forever changed the marketing landscape. Customers, prospects and an increasing number of influencers around them are setting the agenda and tone for conversations about our brands and our offerings. We are left with the stark realization that we are not in control and we can no longer use marketing to just smooth over the rough spots in our offerings and the disconnects in our brand propositions. In fact there is a very real fear that our shortcomings will be called out and our messages will be deemed irrelevant or worse yet labeled as fraudulent.
But in the face of this new reality we have done little to fundamentally change the role of marketing. Many marketers continue to accept strategies driven by the internal dictates of finance, engineering and operations. Marketing today calls for real leadership. Simply put, marketers need to use these marketplace conversations to lead their organization to authenticity.
Authenticity is critical in responding to the marketplace and it is the responsibility of the marketer to hold their organization accountable. This means that product development is driven by customer insights, that brands are truly relevant to the target audience, and that all channels deliver the brand experience the customer was promised and expects.
Today’s consumer responds to brands that stand for something, brands that are about ideas, and brands that are consistent in both message and delivery. In a word: authentic. And today that consumer response can be powerful. Armed to the teeth with technology and empowered by social media platforms the consumer responds to authentic brands by championing them and building a voice in the marketplace louder than any ad campaign we could ever conger up.
And of course the good news in all of this is that today’s market reads like an open book. All of those conversations are happening in real time and in most cases out in the public. We also have the technology to capture the conversation and turn it into market insights. The real question is do we have the will to listen, and the convection to respond. Can we as marketers get real and become the advocate for authenticity.
by Mike Hensley
Executive Vice President, Global Client Service
Cross-posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network