top of page


The 3 Golden Rules of Marketing in a Digital Age.

We are currently living through a communication revolution, not experienced since the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 1450’s. The ability to print many copies of the same text, speedily, allowed for the dissemination of knowledge on a scale not previously seen. While print was a mechanism for distributing ideas from one to many, so were cinema, radio and television. Interestingly enough, print never lost its potency. Many people would agree that the major newspapers of the day were just as influential in informing opinions on politics and elections as television ever was. 


Whereas print, cinema, radio and television were tools of mass communication from one to many, the world wide web is the first many to many form of communication. For the first time in history, everybody has a channel. People no longer need the patronage of a publisher to get their ideas read. These new communication platforms, such as social networks, YouTube, search engines, websites etc., are simply new channels to market. 


In the same way that one previously sent a direct mail, made some phone calls and placed some advertising in a trade journal, a business may now build a website and blog, put some video on YouTube and create a Facebook page. In other words, these marketers will state that the fundamental rules of marketing have not changed. It is simply that there are now other channels of communication which can be utilized.  These marketers are wrong. Of course, one cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater, and there are some truisms of marketing that will still hold water, even in a radically different world. However, we are living through a communication revolution. As some of the traditional paradigms of life are being challenged and altered, it is simply nonsensical to suggest that this does not have severe ramifications for marketing, which is, in essence, all about communication. 



Marketing is about building communities

Today, customers have an abundance of choice and information when they look to make a purchase. In a multi-media world, the most difficult aspect of winning new customers is getting their attention.  Moreover, if a business only manages to obtain a prospect’s attention at the point of purchase, it becomes extremely difficult to differentiate its offering within the multitude of alternative providers. That being the case, the consumer’s primary concern becomes price.


What effective marketing needs to achieve, in the digital world, is to win the attention of the market place regardless of when purchases might occur. By consistently engaging with prospects and customers alike, a business will ensure it is ‘front of mind’ when a transaction will happen. This engagement does not guarantee that an organization will get the business. It does, however, give it a seat at the table when a person is in the market to buy. No company can ask more from its marketing. 


Marketing communications should focus on people

Marketing generally used to focus on the products and services which companies provided. . People don’t get excited about products or services. What touches and excites individuals are emotions, stories and understanding how something will affect them and make a difference to their lives. This requires communications to focus on people rather than products or services. For example, Coca Cola’s ‘share a coke’ campaign, whereby individual names have been put on Coke bottles, achieves exactly this outcome. The focus is not on the product at all. Rather, people go to the shops looking for their name or the names of their friends. 


Marketing is no longer a means to an end, but an end in itself. 

In many ways, this final rule is an outcome of the first two. Traditional marketing had no worth for a prospect unless they were in the market to make a purchase.  If marketing is now about building communities and engaging with them over the long term, marketing cannot purely be focused on transactions. Marketing now has to create value around what a business does, in order to be able to engage when a relevant audience is not in the market to buy. 

In the business to business world the sales departments were the heroes, as they brought in new customers. Meanwhile, marketing just spent money. Today, this is not the case. Marketing, by creating value and engaging and building a community, establishes a business asset, rather than being a pure cost. Therefore, not only is marketing not a means to an end for the customers, it is also no longer a means to an end for the company itself. Marketing is now an end in its own right. 

To conclude: Make your customer the hero!!

This summarised text was taken from Grant Leboff's e-brief : The 3 Golden Rules of Marketing in a Digital Age.   You can access white paper and loads more priceless marketing tips and videos by joining the Sticky Marketing Club.

bottom of page