With the emergence and use of new technologies such as virtual reality, beacons, augmented reality and AI, marketers are finding themselves in a tug of war between traditional methods and more modern marketing. And as these new methods come to the forefront of so many marketing strategies, this article discusses whether these innovative digital strategies really are the future of marketing.

With more than 171 million active Virtual Reality (VR) users expected this year and mind-blowing leaps in experience events like the Lockheed Martin Trip to Mars, it is no wonder brands are looking to integrate technologies and experiences like this into their marketing plans. And whilst nobody is disputing that marketing needs to evolve with the consumer’s that engage with it, it is also important for brands to understand which methods really work for their business.

The advances in digital strategies and technologies have provided an obvious catalyst for new approaches, with many businesses lured into thinking ‘channel-first, message later’. But the reality is that it doesn’t work that way. A virtual experience, huge PR stunt or gamification based mobile app is worthless if the content flowing through it is not anchored to a clearly defined, authentic brand narrative. Marketing continues to work best when it is relevant, engaging and easy to consume, which is why the likes of VR and AR appear attractive. But whilst these technologies are being widely hyped up by consumers it is important to analyse the potential ROI from the overall investment. Some of the most successful campaigns might just come from not following the crowd and instead sticking to what suits your own brand best.

Businesses should focus their efforts on perfecting the types of marketing that they know will have a positive reaction from their own target audience. Continually analysing what works and remaining true to what their own customers are asking to receive, rather than focussing on playing catch up with big brands who can afford to test out the latest technology fads. Brands can instead take small steps on the road to these new strategies by dipping their toes in the water with campaigns that include video, user-generated content or influencer marketing, all of which are proving extremely popular with customers and if executed correctly can show great business return.

Marketers also need to take into consideration how regulations like GDPR will affect their ability to target prospective customers, as the unsolicited approach will no longer be a valid option. They will have to work harder to earn a prospective consent by making the option of regular contact a positive experience. But that doesn’t always mean that encouraging your customers to engage with you via a virtual reality device or interactive brand experience is the best way to attract their attention either.

Businesses must take the time to understand where they are heading – and why – before deciding the best form of transport to take them there. So when it comes to winning the tug of war between modern marketing and the traditional methods you know and love, the answer is simple. Stand your ground.


By Sean Masters, creative director at Masters Allen

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