Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 5, 2009 9:24 AM

Marketing Is More Important Than You Think

Do you think that this is a Blog about technology? Others have said it's about New Media. Some have even suggested that it's about what's happening right now in the world of Social Media. The truth is that this Blog is about marketing.

It's about how your business connects in a world where everybody is connected. It's also about how your messages are created and spread. We no longer have the luxury of communicating to consumers as we see fit (mostly through the muscle of mass media), because now there are many online channels where thousands (actually millions... actually billions) of people are connected (and chatting) about your business or the industry you serve.

In fact, if you take a quick look over at Facebook's latest statistics, it is claiming that it has more than 300 million active users where more than 50% of those active users log on every single day to the online social network.

If that doesn't make your jaw drop, Facebook's fastest growing demographic is people 35 and older. In July of this year, it was announced that there are more grandparents on Facebook than high school students. You read that right - more grandparents than high school students on Facebook.

Sure, the average grandparent might be joining the online social network to creep on their kids, and to make sure that they're not posting too much information that is too personal or that might limit their employment opportunities when they get older. But once they're on, they're hooked. They're reconnecting with family and friends. Their sharing pictures, creating events (like high school and/or family reunions) and they're able to stay that much more connected to their real-life social connections.

What does all of this have to do with marketing and not technology? Everything.

If we are to believe the latest Wikipedia entry on the list of countries by population, Facebook would rank as the fourth-largest country, just slightly below the United States of America (which has about 308 million people). These online channels are no longer just a bunch of high school students who wear black, listen to Fall Out Boy and need to be removed from their computers in the basement with a spatula.

These online channels are who we are - all of us - as a society. It hasn't just changed the way we communicate either. It has changed who are as people.

Being connected - be it through an iPhone or netbook - is part of who we are and how we interact with one another. We use these channels to find out where we're going, what people thought about something before we buy it, and to validate ourselves in front of our peers (whether we like to admit it or not). Marketing always had a knack for getting consumers to think differently about the products and services we use. Now, these many online channels amplify that because it's not just brands screaming at us with television ads and billboards on the freeways, but we are - literally - marketing to one another as well.

Whether it is brands on Twitter speaking to individuals in a very human and real way, or people who list in their profiles on Facebook the brands they love and have affinity for, we live in the most branded generation ever.

As a business owner or active participant in your company's success, it's time we all got that much serious about marketing. Marketing Week in Canada happens next week with a two-day event (Nov. 11-12) in Toronto. Day 1 is Digital Day and Day 2 is Media Day. The event is highlighted by some of today's hottest thought leaders including author and cultural anthropologist Richard Florida (The Rise of the Creative Class, Who's Your City? and many more), David Weinberger (co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto and author of Everything is Miscellaneous), Terry O'Reilly (from the CBC's Age of Persuasion and a recently released book of the same title), Cathie Black (CEO of Hearst Publishing), Louise Clements (RVP, head of sales, Facebook Canada) and many, many more. The week-long Marketing summit will also feature The 10th Annual Media Innovation Awards and the 2009 Digital Marketing Awards.

It's important for you (and your business) to be there.

Unlike other industry conferences, this is a chance for you to really focus on the marketing side of your business. For two days, you can listen, learn, share and network with some of the best and brightest minds (and get away from the office). It's also the perfect place for you to move marketing higher up on the food chain of importance in your business. There's something to be said about this: very few people go to university with the intent of becoming a marketer. It's usually what happens as a back-up when law, engineering or business school doesn't work out.

Marketers aren't generally perceived in the most positive light. Some of this we've brought on ourselves, and some of it is just a symptom of our society.

In the end, marketing is becoming a more important function of the enterprise, and if we're going to change perceptions, the only way to do it is through education and leadership. That's what this Blog is really about and that's what next week's celebration of Marketing is about as well.

How do you feel about how Marketers have been marketing "marketing"?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business - Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post the article here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

- Montreal Gazette - Marketing might be more important than you think.
Vancouver Sun - Marketing is more important than you think.

By Mitch Joel