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An immediacy culture, beware.

Ben Dickens, May 25, 2016

The immediacy culture that technology has created brings huge opportunities for marketers, but beware there’s also a downside.

 

One thing’s for sure, technology has created an immediacy culture. Efficiencies gained through technology form an integral part of people’s subconscious expectations when going about their daily lives. Most people own at least one device and a large proportion have many. With virtually everything at their finger tips, accessing information, services and communicating with other people has never been easier and it has set consumers’ expectations very high.

Exploring the immediacy culture further from a marketing perspective throws up clear opportunities, but sadly doesn’t stop there. Brands are increasingly falling foul of the downside of this cultural phenomenon.

Opportunities clearly exist for brands that can take advantage of these unconscious consumer expectations and if a brand can get this right across the entire customer journey, the inevitable result will be loyal customer advocates, spending money and encouraging others to do so. Get it wrong though or failing to recognise that this is happening will undoubtably result in a lost customer and their disenchantment, thanks to the aforementioned technology, having a much larger effect. Negative review anyone?

Culturally, this is something that affects everyone to a certain degree. For a brand to take advantage however, requires a well thought out strategy, a great idea and measureable implementation. Unfortunately, particularly in digital, that constant seems too often forgotten. We see brands expecting to achieve challenging strategic objectives quickly by assigning insufficient budgets and devising unworkable tactics that ignore the very realities they are trying to achieve. Impatience has become a very powerful force in our society, more so today than ever before, fuelled by the tools that modern technology has facilitated.

Effort, patience, commitment, serious research and similar, time-consuming endeavors have become unwelcome, with little value assigned to these practices. More and more brands just want to get things done on the fly, while not really becoming invested in what they are doing or understanding the impact on the bigger picture. A quick blog, a few tweets, and a mobile app seem to be the centre of peoples’ expectations. In other words, people are starting to reject the virtues that made today’s technology possible. There’s a great opportunity for brands who invest in gaining the upper hand, making the immediacy culture work for them, rather than being impatient and undertaking ill thought out activity and ending up with burnt fingers.

This is emphasised when you look at the potential future landscape, a place where we are likely to see the lifecycle of brands dramatically decrease. Initially, technology will drive growth, but lack of underlying substance will see consumers quickly move onto something new. Are the warning signs already there? Will the first wave of technology driven disruptors be around in 15 years?

How do we address this?

Let’s remember how we got here, would be my first piece of advice. The telephone and it’s current incarnation, the smart phone, is the result of over 100 years of hard research and painstaking trial and error. Marketing and communications have been around for a long time and probably reached it’s zenith in the 1970’s when planning was added to the mix. All the technology that’s become mainstream since has simply added new channels, enhanced understanding and made things more efficient.

My second piece of advice was something I learned a long time ago and it infuriates the hell out of my team sometimes. Keep asking why? Why are we doing this? If you can’t answer that as an agency or brand employee then don’t do it, a bit like if you can’t measure it why spend money on it. Marketing budgets are created to support business objectives, an inability to measure this goes against the reason marketing exists in the first place. I’ll caveat this by saying that not everything has a simple measurement, but overall activity should correlate to a result of some kind, even if it’s big picture like sales or market share.

Let’s use technology intelligently and responsibly. But most importantly let’s not lose sight of what made marketing really great; research, planning and great ideas. The only constant in our industry. Ok the means of communication and interaction have changed, the idea of a campaign is a bit old hat but the increased complexity of the world we live in fuelled by technology surely means we need these attributes even more?

If you want to talk to us about how DVO can bring clarity and success to your marketing challenges in the digitally connected world, get in touch.

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