The future of advertising is scary. Companies are spending millions of dollars developing software that can track literally every move you make on their website. They follow you across the sites you visit, collect your data, browse your history, store your information, know your age, gender, location and place of employment. All to better help them learn your interests, hobbies, favorite sports teams, the stores you frequent, the type of car you drive, where you stop for coffee in the morning, afternoon, evening, and night, what clothes you buy, what you look like, how you behave, and pretty much every other aspect of your life.
So they can be there, waiting, to send you… a coupon. Yep, all of this work and money and effort and creepiness is going into that age-old marketing tactic of giving you 10 percent off your next purchase of milk. Sure, there are other reasons too. Brand awareness, positioning, thought leadership, building rapport, but it nearly always boils down to the same thing—getting in front of the right customer at the right time with the right message.
And it makes sense, too. In this ever-evolving world of digital marketing, there is an increasing demand for the newest, hottest program that will get us ever closer to direct, one-to-one advertising. Companies will do whatever it takes to create customized messaging in order to speak directly to their audience, giving them a wholly unique experience.
But all of this innovation is for naught if a brand isn’t authentic, complete. Digital and traditional advertising can be incredibly effective in building brand awareness, but only if they are supplementary to a consistent, culture-deep look, feel, and message. Consumers are incredibly, if not subconsciously, astute when it comes to recognizing inauthenticity. So no matter how targeted digital advertising becomes, a strong brand is still paramount.
Connecting with your audience through substantial, purposeful storytelling that speaks to why your organization exists and the value it has, is far more impactful than simply running an ad through a programmatic platform, pushing it through an algorithm, and hitting ‘Go’. Brands are there to show consumers that they aren’t just end-users, that organizations still have humanity behind all of the eerily specific ads, coupons, and pop-ups. They’re there to build a relationship, human to human, one to one.
Saving money is great to get customers in the door, and you might even get a few new leads. But if you create a lasting brand, something that resonates with your internal team and your customers, you won’t need to use digital advertising to offer discounts. Instead, you can use it and all of its cool new capabilities to affect real change and build enduring relationships with your customers.
Alex Schillinger is Director of Media at Phire Group.