The headline of this blog is purposely provocative. Marketing is not taking a step back in the sense that’s it’s not innovating.

If anything, it’s the opposite. Marketing has never been so innovative, so forward-thinking.

By taking a step back, I mean to denote that Marketing is looking back to roots, examining its purpose.

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” American Marketing Association

In other words, as marketers, we are tasked with the challenge of figuring out how best to communicate a product or service to our target market. This starts by thinking about who the customer is and how they behave. This need to understand the customer has never been more important.


Because marketing is shifting once more.

With the advent of digital technology, came a myriad of marketing tools to increase the views to your website exponentially, or grow your social following from the hundreds to the millions.

As we begin to settle into this new digital world, marketing is looking back to targeting, personalizing, and thinking of the customer as an individual once more. We’ve reached a digital maturity.

Here are 5 indicators of this changing trend and what to keep your eye on:

  1. The Rise of Individualism

The success of ChatBots and messaging apps like SnapChat illustrate a shift in consumer behavior.

Social Media opened the opportunity for the individual to create and develop an online, public persona. For marketers, this was an invaluable source of consumer information.

Now, the consumer is looking to more private platforms to seek information. Consumers are protecting themselves by being pickier about the public persona they portray online.

The consumer is also looking to platforms that generate conversation, be it with a human or a robot. This indicates that the consumer is looking to engage with a brand as an individual, more authentic basis.

As a marketer, the rise of individualism indicates the consumer’s desire for authenticity. Keep this in mind when writing copy. You need to speak to the individual with a voice that resonates with them.

Whether you are a B2B or B2C marketer, you are talking to a human.

  1. Personalized Messaging

The need for personalized messages is not a new trend. It links neatly with the previous indicator of the rise of individualism.

As consumers and brands move to engaging on ChatBots and messenger apps, the use of other digital platforms like email will not diminish.

Marketing strategy needs to take a holistic view of every customer touchpoint, close the loop, unify the message, and adapt the message in real-time to react to consumer behavior.

  1. Facebook Targeting Features

Back when Facebook first launched its advertising platform, it was simple and allowed businesses to target local students or businesses for a small fee.

As the social giant grew, it became a powerful platform for marketers to get in front of millions of potential consumers in one hit. In 2009, came the first launch of what we know today as the Facebook Advertising platform. Its success is down to its advanced targeting options, that outstrip those of other platforms like Twitter.

Facebook remembered what marketing is all about. Talking to your target market on a platform that they use. Now Facebook advertising is a staple of every marketer’s digital marketing strategy.

Compare if you like the decline in advertising on television commercials. Since the launch of “binge” streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, TV viewers no longer patiently sit through 5 minutes of commercials. Instead, they now have the power to avoid them completely, except during a live sporting or music event.

Savvy advertisers have spotted this trend and adapted their practices. Take Kia, the clear winner of the 2017 Super Bowl Ad Game according to USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter. Interestingly, they launched their Super Bowl campaign with the Nirobot on Facebook Messenger.

Kia identified that the mass message would ignite interest, but the need to engage on an individual level would ultimately lead to sales.

  1. Growth of Customer Experience

The rise of Customer Experience is the fourth indicator that marketing is shifting back to being more targeted.

With the emergence of new job titles like CXO, coupled with the rise of experience technology like Augmented Reality, marketers are increasingly having put their consumer at the center of an experience to gain their business.

Take the retail industry. In-store shopping has been declining in recent years, with the online and mobile platforms winning the holiday battle in 2016.

Virtual reality (VR) and its sister technology augmented reality (AR) are adding a new dimension to retail, by transforming how people shop. You are no longer limited to the 4 walls of a store or the limits of a website. In the future, the consumer will be able to try on that dress without going in-store or test if a dining set fits in their dining room, without having to take out a tape measure.

This technology is creating a unique, individual experience for customers.

Retailers like IKEA, Lowe’s, Topshop are ahead of the game here. Marketers in all industries need to watch this technology in 2017, as those who use it effectively (with their customer in mind) will certainly come out ahead.

  1. The Abundance of Data

Data is a driving force behind the success of digital technology in marketing. Gone are the days of spending thousands on a product launch without hope of knowing its impact or ROI.

The availability of consumer data and the use of it is another indicator that marketing is taking a step back.

We can now message individuals based on their behavior, on a specific action they’ve taken on our websites.

The data-savvy marketer or marketing team will be able to harness this shift to back to targeted, consumer-centricity faster than others.

With each of the indicators, it is not possible to emphasize enough the importance of taking the time to understand your target customer.

5 things you need to make sure your marketing team is doing:

  1. Using profile to understand your customer
  2. Think about the individual consumer, not just the target of thousands of web views
  3. Closing the loop on all consumer touchpoints, sending out unified, personalized messages
  4. Choosing technology that adapts in real-time to consumer behavior
  5. Gathering data, analyzing it, and making smart decisions based on what they discover

As marketing takes a step back to focus on its core function and purpose, new technology makes it ever easier for the marketer to forward-think and grow their businesses.