Gary Vaynerchuk recently gave a talk where he discussed how much money old-school companies are spending—i.e., wasting—on traditional advertising. Anytime a commercial comes on people reflexively pick up their phone and tune out those annoying ads.
Large corporations spend about $80 billion on commercials that amount to little more than background noise.
Vaynerchuk focused on the importance of targeted Facebook ads, but I think his example showcases a larger problem with many traditional companies’ approach to marketing. They just keep doing the same things they have always done—hoping that it works like it did before.
Many companies give lip service to creativity or the ‘creative aspects’ of the business. “How can we make ads that are more fun or appealing?” they ask. They don’t ask if ads are relevant or how else they can get customers’ attention. Nor do they ask how they can earn prospective customers’ trust. Like a bad friend, too many want our time and attention but don’t want to get to know us.
The entire consumer landscape is changing. It’s not just that our attention is focused on a new platform. Taking an irrelevant and outdated TV commercial and transplanting it to Facebook is not an improvement. Consumers’ expectations of service, experience, and convenience are continually increasing—companies have to keep pace. Organizations that don’t embrace the concept of the customer journey and actively work to make the process easier will continue to lose market share.
This is where companies need to get creative. There will always be people who can develop creative ads. But how many people can take a unique approach to a customer journey or to truly solving a customer’s problem?
Market leaders do more than simply attract the attention of their customer base. They solve a customer problem in a way that wasn’t even thought of before. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Although this quote cannot be confidently attributed to Henry Ford, the sentiment is no less prevalent in his work. The true landmark solutions that drive our society forward do not come about by abiding the status quo.
Likewise, when Apple set out to improve the way we listen to music, they did not make a stereo system that held more compact-discs—they disrupted the entire music industry with the invention of the iPod and iTunes.
So ask yourself: What customer problem do I solve? How is this problem currently being solved? What is it that the customer ultimately wants? This last question might be the most important. The solution is not always “bigger, faster, stronger.” Many times, an altogether different approach to an existing problem wins out.