Marketing isn’t the same beast it was in the fifties. Long gone are the days of single-media campaigns that cost companies millions of dollars. Mad Men is an entertaining and accurate portrayal of the time, but marketing is entirely different nowadays. With the introduction of media, marketing no longer stands on its own. In fact, media slowly worked its way into the entire equation, and the two are becoming more and more indistinguishable by the day. In fact, pretty soon, the two are going to merge into one entity.

What’s causing the two to merge?

For a while, marketing and media were as separate as could be. The two rarely interacted at all. Technology brought them together, introducing radio and TV ads, but the vast majority of marketing was done through traditional means – multi-million dollar campaigns on billboards, endorsements, and more. Media got its toes wet, but it was separate enough for the two to be different entities entirely.

However, things began to become digital. The eventual dawn of the internet age blew the doors wide open for marketers, allowing them to advertise and sell in ways previously impossible. Audiences exponentially grew in size since everything became connected. Media suddenly became crucial for the marketing world, allowing companies to reach more people than ever. Marketers suddenly had access to incredible tools, but there was one small problem – they didn’t know how to use them.

How to effectively use media

Modern marketers are more comfortable utilizing media, but there’s still a lot of progress to make. Plenty of marketing companies are still rooted in traditional practices, and they’re struggling to keep up with startups and smaller businesses that have the freedom to try new things. This raises a question, though – what are these companies doing that’s so successful? What’s their strategy that’s blurring the lines between marketing and media?

Marketing startups have big competition. A five-person operation doesn’t have the same resources as Ogilvy & Mather. That said, they have a unique advantage. Startups are popping up all over the place, and they need affordable marketing. They don’t have millions of dollars, so where do they turn?

“People don’t engage with traditional marketing anymore. They have better options,” says Mabbly CEO Hank Ostholthoff. “We believe in selling passion; that’s what people want. Without media, it’s just not possible.”

Because there’s so much competition, too, startup marketers have to find creative channels to use in order to get their name out there. That’s where media enters the picture. Media is more than running commercials during the Super Bowl. It’s actively engaging with audiences through social media. It’s creating meaningful content that people genuinely enjoy. Content pushed through media is marketing for a modern, digital audience, and it’s only possible through the right media channels.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about engagement,” says Moti Cohen, CEO of Apester. “Whether their budgets are big or small, marketers must activate their audience and get them involved in the content creation process. Those who can engage better, win.”

What does this mean for marketing?

In the end, the lines between marketing and media are blurred. The two can’t be separated without giving up any hope of reaching the right audience. Companies today owe it to themselves and to their consumers to embrace this new direction. The alternative simply isn’t an option.

Strategies that are proving to be successful like growth hacking require marketing and media to converge. As such, it means marketing is no longer the concrete monolith it once was. It’s becoming ingrained in everyday life, which means it’s up to marketers to engage with audiences in meaningful ways.

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