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  • Lou Killeffer

Marketing's Once and Future Best Practice

From an interview with Perpetual Insights

Q. What are the significant and recent evolutions you see among best practices in marketing?

By far the most significant trend among best, as in most needed, practices today is a universal renaissance in the supremacy of brands; in direct response to the overwhelming force of the Internet.

We all know how the never ending cascade of content across platforms increasingly shapes attitudes and behavior; indeed, how we act and live our lives, with profound effects on our purchase criteria, shopping behavior, and the marketing strategies designed to engage us through “advertising”. Consumers are in complete control and demand trust-based relationships with every brand, particularly those striving to rise above the sea-of-sameness that’s turned so many of them into deeply discounted commodities.

The smartest marketers are now intently engaged with their brands as solutions, indeed as the key to their future. One leader at a global FMCPG firm told me he was leading a brand review to reassess what was most significant and proprietary about where they were and what they must add to further distinguish their brand and product offerings. As he made painfully clear, "Amazon will reap its rewards in low price selection, and we'll take our fair share from the middle, but we need a premium brand image that can take us further...We don't just need a dynamic brand, we need a brand that can beat the algorithm!" (You'll find more here: Advertising in the Age of Alexa.)

Central to the renewed focus on brands is the unremitting insight that a sale is simply a transaction but creating a customer is creating a relationship. So the bleeding edge of marketing now is a return to brand building. Which suggests success was never about the best distribution, the best sales incentives, the best ads, or even the best marketing strategy, but rather who really cares most about creating customers. That in the end, the winner is the one who has the courage and foresight to put meaningful brand-driven relationships with one's customers at the center of the enterprise.

Isn’t that - everything else, all of which of course is staggering, aside - exactly what Jeff Bezos has done? Isn't that the quintessential Amazon insight?

And conversely, isn’t dynamic brand building the very best - if not the only - antidote to commoditization as Amazon and its imitators roll on?

Because people are people, self-interest is self-interest, and choice is choice. Brands are relationships and successful “advertising”, from sandwich boards to Instagram’s branded-content on your iPhone, is brand storytelling that solves a consumer's problem while creating and nurturing a reciprocal relationship.

Truly dynamic brands, especially those that can "beat the algorithm", are built on nine essential elements. You’ll find them and some compelling real world examples here: How to Build a Dynamic Brand.

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