In the past, marketing and technology were considered two vastly different functions. Nothing could be more different today, argue Bob Lord and Ray Velez, co-authors of Converge. Marketing is about creating a customer experience. And in today’s world of customers enabled by the Internet and the smartphone to be both engaged and demanding, creating a customer experience requires what the authors call the “convergence” of the disciplines and skills related to both marketing and technology.
More specifically, convergence is the coming together of media, technology and creativity. All three of these areas have dramatically changed in the past few decades. Media is not about one-way communication such as TV ads, but about engaging with customers who control your brand’s reputation.
Technology is not about infrastructure, but about identifying customer segments and helping to tell the stories that will bring them to the brand. And creativity is no longer a top-down process. Today, creativity comes from everywhere, including your customers.
It’s All About the Customer
One of the core themes of Converge is that business has never been more customer-driven than it is today. In this new customer-centric world, marketing “is no longer about throwing a message out into the world and hoping that you interrupt the right person at the right time. Marketing has become about service and utility, and much of it is technology enabled.” In other words, successful marketing requires using technology to help customers achieve their goals.
This is a lesson that Jeff Bezos and Amazon understood from day one, and technology-driven features such as their recommendation systems and readers’ reviews are the reason that no company — not even Barnes and Noble — has been able to knock the pioneer of online book sales off its perch.
Customer-centricity is the first of the authors’ five principles of convergence that are required for success. The other four are:
• Reject silos. Collaboration across functions is an absolute prerequisite for convergence.
• Act like a startup. Go for cheap, fast and flexible.
• Adopt a cross-disciplinary mindset. “Get a wide variety of expertise around the table,” write the authors.
• Think of your brand as a service. You’re not selling stuff; you’re fulfilling a need.
If we look specifically to Public Relations, and we apply the Convergence Principle, it is clear to most savvy PR pros that old school PR departments/agencies that only target the ‘traditional media’ are doing a miss-service to their brands.
The targets that PR pros need to shoot for today are greatly increased as most of the population is not just a consumer of the media, but also becomes an independent journalist, editor and publisher.
As the target changes, so the message needs to change. In days gone by, a press release could be technical and full of jargon. The press release was going to be passed to a few trained and professional journalist/editors that knew the subject matter/industry, could translate the release and publish it in a form suitable for their publication and reader. Not so today. Press releases can be found, read, re-distributed and used as content by anyone. It can be found anytime and re-used anywhere.
Need to know how to re-package your message? Give us a call.