By Innocent Mushamba
LET’S imagine you’ve been called in for an interview to become the Marketing Manager of the largest corporation in Zimbabwe.
It has a handful of major corporate brands under it. You walk in and immediately you are asked to write a brief summary of what you would include in a marketing plan for a product launch, scheduled three weeks from now.
You know the marketing budget is huge, and the product is new. What would you include in your plan?
Marketing, Economics and Mass Media
The marketplace is much more competitive now than at any other time in history. The cost of entry for many business lines has been drastically reduced and the consumer has a wider range of brands to choose from. Many times, brands rise or fall based on their marketing strategies.
Marketing is a product of economics. In the decade after the year 1900, a group of economists noticed that product pricing was the only factor they regarded as a determinant of demand in the market. Yet, mass media already existed in the form of print advertising, and it affected product demand.
Mass media has shifted over the past few years through rapid advances in telecommunications, and marketing has attuned accordingly. Today we have the internet and mobile technology.
An Off-The-Cuff Definition
So now, what is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is the zenith of marketing, advertising, public relations, and sales. It is the bringing together of all these principles in the context of a digital age, using digital tools. It is cost-effective and niche-specific. It is a great way to manage brand reputation and perform highly-targeted marketing campaigns.
When you sell products and services through social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp that is an integral part of digital marketing. When you send newsletters to prospective clients via an email database that is digital marketing. When you set up your website in such a way that your target audience visits it frequently, that is digital marketing. When you set up ads that pop up on the internet that is digital marketing.
Digital Marketing: A Little History
Let’s go back in time again a bit.
The first marketing research department came about in 1911, led by Charles Parlin. A decade later, the radio came along, then the telephone and TV in the early ’40s. In the early ’50s, TV advertising grew like wildfire, increasing total television revenue in America by 10% in one year.
In the ’70s, telemarketing grew in popularity. Random calls came into many homes from agents selling their products and services, often without any solicitation from the client. It worked.
In the ’80s, the personal computer hit the market and it re-ignited print advertising through desktop publishing. Apple introduced the Mackintosh in 1984 and ran a Super Bowl commercial that reached almost half of America.
Needless to say, the impact was colossal.
The ’90s brought about bulk messaging through the mobile phone and spam via email. It was the first time we saw some form of automation being used in marketing. During the mid-90’s search engines became popular. There was Excite, AltaVista, and Yahoo! Google came a little later and became the number one search engine available.
From then on we got blogging, social media, podcasting, e-commerce, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, data analytics and a whole host of new tools and channels to enhance our marketing efforts.
We are now in the age of information. It’s now about building a tribe. It’s about sharing information and giving value to the consumer. It’s all about building trust and keeping it.
The only question is- what are you going to do about it? Your business will only grow as much as your relationship with your customer does. Nine times out of ten, your customers spend more time on their mobile phones than anywhere else. You can reach them there, and that is why digital marketing exists.