Marketing 4.0: Combining digital and human

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Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing, published in November 2016 a new book: “Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital” (available on Amazon). And once again his analysis of how marketing changed brings real value to marketers. The time lapse between innovations that disrupt marketing practices is reducing. However today these innovations are not simply changing the rules of marketing; they are changing the consumers themselves.

Marketing 4.0 refers to all these changes that come from the connectivity of the world. This article sums up the main transformations and how marketing evolved.

According to Kotler, marketing 4.0 is a new approach that optimises online and offline marketing actions. Now that eMarketing has overcome traditional marketing, it’s the human interactions between a brand and a consumer that actually bring value and differentiate a company from another – just like digital used to make a difference in its debuts. Even though being digital implies being flexible and always ready to evolve – thanks to or because of new technologies –, what makes brands unique is what matters more than ever. And this uniqueness is built on a long-term strategy with a personality and a history built on stability. Why?

Because consumers changed.
And thus companies had to find new ways to meet their requirements.
Consumers are first of all connected. Channels on which a brand can communicate are wider than before and keep growing which also brings the issue of following the consumer’s journey. That journey now includes preliminary research on the product/service with social media and the Internet and a switch from one device to another without any apparent logical reason.

Connectivity changes the purchasing process as well as the behaviour: consumers have less time to give to the brands, they are more demanding on both the product and the service’s quality, they are now capable of doing a benchmark in a couple of clicks…

And last but not least, they are engaged. Why are brands so involved and active in causes and opinions? To differentiate themselves and show their personality. Consumers want brands engaged on topics that speak to them so that they can identify with this brand. The boom of social media, online reviews, ratings and other sources of information left consumers dedicated to knowing what kind of brand they were buying from (and thus what these brands do outside of the products they’re selling).

Marketing 4.0 comes with new metrics that will help marketing teams understand what a consumer wants and how he or she behaves. From this analytics can be deduced a new mojo:

“Content marketing is the New Ad, #Hashtag is the New Tagline”

— or so says Kotler. As we all know, content marketing is booming. It aims at providing quality content for prospects, including them in the processes, bringing them value and starting to build a relationship with them… But it’s also and mainly a way to say who we are.

And that is something very present in this new book. Brands need to change the way they communicate. Being perfect is not a priority anymore; being human is. That involves:

  • Focusing on people and not products: what are the benefits for them, what does it actually bring them?
  • Producing content – not necessarily perfect content but adapted and relevant content: here’s what the brand does, here’s who they are,
  • Being on multiple channels. Providing a cross-channel experience is key to accompanying the buyer on their journey and to showing that the company is connected and growing with new technologies.
  • Creating engagement by showing its own: “Here’s what we stand for; here’s what we believe in”. It’s up to the consumer to agree or not.
  • Focusing on the client experience: this involves all the mentioned above but it deserves to be highlighted. It’s one of 2017’s main challenges.

That’s what makes a brand unique and have personality. It involves being authentic and not in the over-control over everything that’s said. The goal is to create a brand that is approachable and agreeable, with quality and defaults; a brand that’s proud of its success and admit its failures. In short, a brand that’s human.

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