Two posts got my attention today one pointing out the huge shift we’re about to see in consumer relationships and the other pointing out how slowly companies and agencies are reacting to those changes.
Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang and Co. produced a study on “The Future of Social Web.” His report shows that we’re starting to see fundamental shifts in consumer behavior and he provides five steps for brands to start taking this year. That’s right, the future is already here, or it’s kicking off this year.
The other post was a survey on AdWeek that showed how advertisers and agencies still haven’t figured out how to integrate online media, due to a range of reasons, from a reluctance to move away from ingrained habits to people who still don’t get digital and don’t understand how customers use it.
It’s crazy that both of these reports are probably true. What it shows is the huge gap between consumers and brands (and the agents representing the brands). It also shows a huge opportunity for nimble organizations who get digital and social and who aren’t afraid to talk with (and not just to) its customers.
Owyang’s advice isn’t new: transparency, connections, letting go. It’s the opposite of what most do these days: stick to broadcast, one-way, control. The AdWeek report might show that changing still has serious economic hindrances to overcome. Shifting to the social web and connecting with consumers doesn’t pay for media planners and ad teams. It might if you looked at them in different ways or retrained them, but that doesn’t seem to happen that often.
I like to think of this in parallel with our economy in general. I think GM is a perfect metaphor for what’s happening in marketing. Our venerated car industry is about to undergo a huge change, one that will be good for our country and our environment, but bad for our autoworkers, suppliers and corporate auto leaders. In the long run, the people on the short end of the stick will change and find other things to do, but they won’t be happy about it.
That’s what seems to be happening in our marketing world, according to these two posts. We’ll see change that will benefit consumers greatly and will cause lots of pain in old industries. How much change and how much pain remains to be seen.
It can’t happen fast enough, if you ask me.