Moving Toward a Digital, Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy

Centered on the fictitious New York advertising agency Sterling Cooper, the TV series Mad Men is sometimes used as a reference point for the style, mood, and changing social mores of the 1960s. It also provides a lens through which we can view the changing attitudes of the marketing industry itself, and the evolution of roles and activities required within marketing organizations to survive and thrive in an increasingly consumer-led, global marketplace.
Between the 1960s and the 1990s, consumerism underwent its metamorphosis in the increasingly red-hot glare of the media. Unsurprisingly, marketing, in leading the charge, enthusiastically exploited the emerging technological opportunities. As Mad Men portrays, advertising and product marketing became a metaphor for the fast-moving and “sexy” consumer world of opportunity and creativity. Indeed, many of the marketing icons of those times survive today and are reused extensively to inform “retro” fashion and style.
By contrast, “customer direct marketing” in those days was somewhat limited. Database marketing is a term that still conjures visions of arcane data management processes, random and largely unsuccessful mass mailing programs, and ineffective product “push” tactics to increasingly unwelcoming and vociferous consumers.
The contrast between the marketing disciplines of the old days and today could not be starker.
While the major catalyst for change in global marketing perspectives during the last 20 years is generally agreed to be the Internet, the global financial crisis in 2007-2009 – is the longest and deepest of the post-WWII era – also contributed to a unique set of circumstances that resulted in the advent of a new breed of consumer. This new customer is demanding, suspicious of unsolicited offers, expectant of high standards of service, aware, informed, connected, and opinionated.

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