Last week Richard Stacy joined us for the latest in our Lunch and Learn sessions, designed to expand our curious minds and provoke us to think differently about marketing. Thank you Richard for a great debate. We hope you enjoy Richard’s thoughts…..

We live in changing times. The only thing we know with certainty is that what created successful brands in the past, won’t be what builds successful brands in the future.

So, what will define success for a brand?

From cold to hot marketing

There are three things a marketer needs to understand.  The first is the shift from audiences to individuals, or what I call the shift from cold marketing to hot marketing.

Marketing was all about audiences: in fact, it should have been called audience-based marketing.  This was because the only channels available to us were ‘cold’ and audience-based. By definition, you cannot create a warm relationship when trying to create the same relationship with lots of people all at the same time.  However, within the new ‘social’ digital space, you can create much warmer relationships, by talking to people as individuals.  Indeed our customers are demanding that this is the way brands talk to them.

This means brands have to set themselves up very differently.  Marketing is no longer a channel and message challenge, it is a behaviour identification and response challenge.

It means thinking less about how you target consumers and more about how you make your brand a target for consumers: how you convene an audience around your brand.  You can’t rely on using media to drive consumers to the brand, you have to ‘seduce’ your consumers into a relationship with you.

Community is becoming the new media

The second thing is to understand is how community is becoming the new media.  Traditional media space was about distribution, new social space is about connection – and the principal medium of connection is a community.

Almost all relationships between brands and consumers are filtered through a community.  Think Trip Advisor. Wikipedia is a community.  Amazon’s success is based on harnessing the power of communities of recommendation. Google is basically a form of community.

Brands need to understand how to manage their presence within community space (rather than media space) and also how they can create their own communities with their consumers and inside their organisations.

The power of the algorithm

The third thing is very different: Big Data – or more precisely, algorithms.  Small data was all about looking for needles in hay stacks.

Big Data is all about understanding the hay in order to predict where the needles will be.  It can tell us exactly who might want our products, pinpoint when they want them and calculate how much they are prepared to pay for them at that precise moment. Algorithms can deliver a consumer direct to you, without having to bother with marketing and sales.

Where might this take us?  The one thing we do know is that people who get their hands on, and preferably own, the most data and have the best algorithms will be the winners.  The future is not what it used to be.  But that doesn’t have to be frightening. It only becomes scary (and unprofitable) if you continue to rely on what worked in the past.