Lon Safko is the author of the fusion marketing concept. It is not rocket science, but focuses on the simple fact that companies should be able to fuse all marketing tools and techniques that they already have and master. But too many times they are managed separately. Traditional, digital and social media are just pieces of the same puzzle that should lead to the same goal – driving marketing effectiveness.
At the SEMPL Media Trends Conference, you will be talking about fusion marketing and the future of marketing. Can you explain briefly what fusion marketing is?
Right now everybody knows the tools, they all know how to use Facebook, know what Google Adwords is… everybody is equal. There is only one path to a competitive advantage, and that is to be more creative and innovative. That is the only way the companies are going to get ahead. Back in 2012, when we were still learning about social media, I looked ahead 5 years, and I thought social media would soften, as fewer and fewer people will be actively participating on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, and click ads are not going to work anymore.
Fusion marketing was a way of saving all this. For me, there is traditional, social and digital marketing. Traditional marketing is starting to creep back into being effective, so don’t turn your back to it. Digital marketing means pay-per-click ads and SEO. Although it is not two-way communication, it still has its advantages. And if you fuse traditional and digital marketing with social marketing, you will definitely win. In 2012, I described this fusion process in The Fusion Marketing Bible. It has been a big success, and I have been using it in companies all over the world.
What does fusion marketing require? Do companies have to reorganise their marketing departments?
You don’t have to change anything inside the company, that’s the beautiful thing about it. You are already doing all these things – you are doing some traditional marketing, you are doing Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, videos, e-mail, but you look at them as separate tools that are never connected. Why don’t you post on Facebook ‘here is my e-mail, sign up for more information’? Why wouldn’t you invite people on your YouTube channel to visit your other platforms? Invite them to all these touch points that you already have. It doesn’t cost you anything because you are already doing it. All it is, is a different way of thinking. Well, it is often more difficult to think differently than to get the company to spend more money, but once they do, it can explode.
Is the term digital marketing obsolete? Does it still make sense to give employees titles such as “head of digital marketing” or “social media manager” when in the end of the day it all comes down to marketing?
I’m glad you picked that up because many people, especially the younger ones, don’t realise all the dimensions of marketing, even though they should. The approaches to traditional, digital and social marketing vary greatly from one another, but you have to understand each one of them to fuse them successfully.
Traditional marketing is what we call push marketing, it is a one-way communication and we are just pushing our messages and not listening back.
You can’t hear what your customers think about your newspaper ad or how they feel about your television campaign. On the contrary, social media enabled two-way communication. I post something, you comment, I respond to it – it is a dialogue. With digital marketing you focus on your web page, which has to be SEO friendly, newsletters and pay per click ads. Although it is not two-way communication, it is an integral part of what we do as marketers and what companies need to be sensitive to. We have to understand all these three categories and fuse them, since they complement and enhance each other, which drives your marketing efficiency.
What would be your advice to CMOs how to manage their marketing activities for 2025 and beyond? What are their biggest challenges and what do they have to be prepared for?
The biggest challenge that we are having as marketers is that everything is spread across the different platforms where we are trying to reach our customers. The customer right now is becoming absolutely inundated with information and bad content. The changes Google made in its algorithms, especially Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird, actually destroyed the internet because now we have so much bad content and we are just tired of it all.
But we have to look ahead, to 2025, about which I will be speaking at SEMPL.
There is no doubt that artificial intelligence, chatbots, and even web browsers will become increasingly smarter and better able to anticipate what we are looking for, so it will make it easier for us to search. Augmented reality – Pokemon brought this technology to the forefront for non-technical people as well – will become even bigger. Augmented reality has also been around for more than a decade, but we are not using its full potential yet. In the next few years you will come to the store and point your phone to a product on a shelf, and you will get all these pieces of information, such as calorie count, the ingredients or the web site. Or you’ll be walking down the street and seeing the reviews of the restaurants displayed down on the street.
The other thing is electronic payment. By 2025, credit cards and cash are going to become obsolete. We are going to carry a small amount of cash but we will probably not carry our credit cards. There will be no reason to. You won’t have to be afraid of losing them, and we won’t have any problems with credit card fraud. You will be able to make a payment with either face or voice recognition on your smartphone.
And the internet of things: Even though we tend to think that it doesn’t directly affect us as marketers, it is going to because of the way our products will begin to interact with our customers, and we are going to be responsible for telling that story. We will have to be able to understand the internet of things better than everybody – and not just its technical side. This responsibility is going to fall into our marketing lapses.
And lastly, virtual reality. I love it; I have been involved with Second Life for 12 years. At its peak in 2011 there were 200 of the Fortune 500 companies involved, and you could interact with the biggest brands there. I believe that is going to come back. The barrier to entry was goggle technology and the difficulty of learning how to use it; just remember Google Glass. The barriers are shrinking, and adoption of these devices is going to increase. That is why I believe that the era of virtual reality is still coming.
Don’t miss Lon on SEMPL’s stage!