Once upon a time, the local cobbler, carpenter and baker were all marketers who valued the trust of their customers.
More often than not, happy customers brought in other new customers. It was a virtuous cycle.
Then, making products on an industrial scale began to change this. Suddenly, the new shoe factory was making more shoes in a day, than what the local cobbler could ever make in a year.
Businesses needed to find new ways to attract new customers. And they found ways to reach the most number of people possible via newspaper, magazine, radio and television ads.
Demand for ads skyrocketed. And ad agencies were raking in the moolah.
The math was simple. As long as an ad costed lesser than the sales it generated, businesses could go on making them. And they could go on increasing their sales.
But somewhere down the line, ads became too expensive, and began to annoy the masses. After all, no one wants to be interrupted with ads.
Then, the internet happened… And it did two things.
One, it opened up new digital business opportunities. And two, it gave businesses a set of new tools to target and reach individual users online.
Unlike the capital intensive, mostly manufacturing-based businesses of the industrial age, the internet allowed people to start new software or service-based businesses from their homes.
But the marketing playbook didn’t change. Most internet businesses continued to use new tools such as emails and search engine ads in the same old way, to interrupt and spam the most number of people possible.
Now, these tools are also beginning to become costly. And more importantly they are beginning to annoy people.
However, there is hope. Because unlike the old one-way distribution channels of print media, radios and televisions, the internet allows brands and users to interact with each other.
It allows a stranger from one corner of the planet to find, interact with and buy from a brand.
It allows brands to create relevant, engaging and useful content to win the trust of their customers.
It allows happy satisfied users to once again talk about their favorite brands and use their word-of-mouth to bring in new customers.
And it might just allow us all to once again become marketers, who value our customer’s trust…