Marketers are divided into two camps. One group believes that marketing does not change; the fundamentals of marketing are the same now as they were 50 years ago. The other camp believes that marketing has significantly changed and none of the things that worked 50 years go, even 10 years ago or 5 years ago work now.
Each has a point but who is right? They both are (don’t you hate it when a someone says that?) I think they are having an apples verses oranges-type argument. Most of the underlying principles from old marketing still hold true. What is new and different are the tactics. The marketing-stays-the-same group is talking about marketing strategy while the new-marketing group is talking about tactics.
Many of the most noted marketers of our time built their careers on the principles from the great early marketers. The late Claude Hopkins tells us that advertising copy works best when it is written with empathy for the customers – still true today. The 5 principles of the psychology of influence from Robert Cialdini are as relevant as ever. Listen to Zig Ziglar’s speeches and you’ll find ideas you can use now that he discovered 50 years ago. The underlying strategies from these early marketing influencers transfer nicely to modern marketing.
Now look at an actual advertisement from the old days – say the 1950’s. Many of them are laughable. They seem amateur at best and downright deceptive at worst. Tactically the messages, channels and even the processes these old-time master marketers used cannot be used today.
Marketing can get far more sophisticated than ever before. New analytics and channels and deployment methods allow marketers an unreal level of access and detail unimaginable to the advertisers or long ago. At the same time marketing is far more accessible – accessible to anyone.
New marketing tactics like digital marketing changed business forever. Little companies, freelancers, brands and products can leverage the power of the Internet to become recognized and loved in a way never before possible with mass marketing.
So they both have a point. The basic underlying principles of marketing are the same. Tactically marketing has evolved significantly. Each camp is right but each camp is also wrong. Marketers who hold steadfast in their belief in either side tend to stick to their camp instead of integrating the best from both. For example, social media marketing is just noise unless you create it with empathy. Classic marketing becomes super risky (and unaffordable) when you focus on the traditional media channels.
The marketers that I respect most use the classic marketing principles and apply them to modern marketing tactics. Their marketing is based in sound strategy while they play and experiment with the new tools that modern marketing provides. Both old and new marketing can teach us a lot.