Marketing Is Dead – Long Live Connectivity And Conversation

In the past, marketers have been good at filling “gaps” in our day. The advertisements on trains that you used to read when you were sitting on an inevitably delayed train, advertisements in airports that you read when wasting time waiting for a plane because you were instructed to turn up x hours before your flight and billboards strategically placed alongside roads frequented by commuters that are forever travelling a route that is increasingly failing due to over capacity. Do any of these still apply? Perhaps, but certainly not they way they used to.
How many people are listening to their podcasts or music when sitting on the train or in their car. How many people fill their time at the airport on their mobile phone or clearing their inbox on their blackberry? So whilst these “gaps” still exist, I would speculate that they are nowhere near as big as they used to be. This time is productive time, it is to me anyway. Every minute I spend on my mobile in the car frees up a minute either in the office or at home, likewise every minute listening to a podcast. So, given that this time isn’t a “gap” anymore – that I was happy to have filled with anything that helped prevent boredom or death – how are marketers going to be able to encroach on me given that their window of opportunity has been greatly reduced?

We all want connections. You might not think so but think about how you feel if you’re in a situation where you don’t have any. Perhaps you walk into a room, a bar, a party and realise that you don’t know anyone. You know, that point at which you think everyone is looking at you – see, I bet you wished you had connections now. Aside from personal connections, people also value their connections to places (place of birth for instance), connection to religion for example and connections to our ancestors.

Connectivity used to be a rarity, a luxury to some. You could only make telephone call if you were at home, in the office or near a phone box. If you had access to a telephone you then needed to be able to afford to use it. Sure, most could afford local calls, perhaps even national ones but international calls where out of the financial reach of many. Internet connectivity was either impossible or so slow it was not worth risking your sanity attempting. We now can call anywhere in the globe at anytime for little cost. And whatever the cost is, most of us consider it a necessary one. We have portable wifi devices and wifi access on trains, aeroplanes and coffee shops. This combined with GPRS and EDGE technologies mean that unless we’re hidden underneath a mountain somewhere internet access is as good as “always on”. We use this technology to connect. Emailing, calling, blogging, commenting, podcasting – it’s all connecting.

Connecting with people is easy. Websites such as Ecademy, OpenBC, SoFlow & FriendsReunited all facilitate connecting and, in the main, many of the members of these sites are open to new connections, not just re-connections with old colleagues etc, as this is the purpose of becoming a member and publishing a profile on yourself.

Lack of open conversations kills companies (Cluetrain #21). Given this, how are companies going to have a conversation with you?
Companies are deeply afraid of their markets (Cluetrain #26). This needs to be overcome. With connectivity now commonplace, part of our daily life, and actively pursued by all of us markets will connect. This will happen with or without the input from companies. For an example, take a look at NTL hell [] (also do some research on it and learn about it’s conception), this is four years old now.

It’s clear that the “gap” that used to exist for exploitation by marketers is now so small it is useless. The way to communicate is through a network, a community, and using a conversation. Marketing is dead – long live connectivity and conversation.

The inspiration for this came from reading “The Connection Imperative” by Davos, Sept 2005.