Future of Marketing: Science, Storytelling, Speed, Simplicity, and Substance (5S)


Five new keys for marketingPeople who study business love things like “The 4Ps” (price, product, promotion, and place!) or “The 7C Compass Model” or whatever. In reality, this is mostly reams of bullshit, or a way to potentially think about the bigger ideas — namely, who are your customers, how can you find them, and why would they want your product/service?

Here’s an interview with a higher-up marketing woman at Google, done by McKinsey, and the Googler and interviewer together make this interesting point:

If we are going to interrupt you with something that we think is important to you, we have to find a way to tell you about it so that it resonates with you. There has to be a benefit to you. There has to be substance. So, we tell real-life stories. We say, “Listen, your life will change because our product will do this.” Or “Your life just got better because now you can have this.” We don’t do the storytelling unless we have that. Before we get into storytelling, we’ll sit with the team and say, “Okay, why does the world need this? What is going to change in a person’s life if they have this? What’s unique about this? What’s truly great about it?” There has to be substance there.

The Quarterly: That’s interesting; we’ve also identified “substance” as one of the leading elements of marketing’s new golden age—along with science, storytelling, speed, and simplicity.

Yep. Let’s start right at the top here.

A lot of people confuse “marketing” and “advertising.” In many cases, there are similarities there, right? And in both cases, the person producing the “marketing” or the “advertising” is producing an interruption. If I get an e-mail for a sale and I click on the e-mail, that’s interrupting whatever I was doing before. The only way you can move from “Wow, this is an interruption” to “Wow, I’ll buy this!” is through resonance; phrased another way, people don’t really buy products, but they buy better versions of themselves.

Social media and easier-to-find Internet (and mobile) basically changed the entire way we do marketing; the funnel of 2015 is drastically different than the funnel of even 2003. As such, we need a new matrix to pump into business schools. This 5S model could work. Consider:

Science: We have the tools to track and analyze now. It’s somewhat fraught, yes. If we’re chasing “Big Data” as a strategy for our business, we need people on staff that can actually explain data to people who don’t care about data (which is going to be most of your organization) and we need people who understand the difference between “synthesis” and “analysis.” All that said, think of the marketing slogan that Google Analytics uses: Insights into action. That’s it. That’s the essence of the “science” side of the new marketing mix right there. Figure out what you want/need to track. Track it. Make decisions off of it.

Storytelling: It resonates more than anything.

Speed: This is a general business trend right now, I’d argue. You just need to do stuff faster. The major contradiction here — one that flummoxes a lot of leaders — is that you want to “get to market” or whatever quickly, or be able to change/iterate quickly on a project, but then what happens is it often takes a while to suss out your results. (Years, even.) Oftentimes, then, there’s an internal focus on speed, and an external focus on let’s make sure we have enough info to make a decision on this thing, and those can be at odds sometimes.

Simplicity: Why make things more complex for people, especially when you’re interrupting them anyway? This is one reason you need to think more carefully about automation in your marketing; most automation programs are just set up to blast people with e-mails if they accidentally click your “About Us” page or whatever. That’s not simple at all.

Substance: This would seem to be at odds with simplicity, but it’s not. You can tell a simple story with a ton of substance. Here’s an example: Charlie Brown. Here’s another example: Jesus. Here’s a third example: the humble beginnings of Google.

What do you think? Could a 5S model be a good explainer for the future of marketing?

Ted Bauer