Is it a digital revolution…or just an evolution?

Photo credit - Badger.20It’s going to be a crazy week up in Cincinnati.  I’m trying to find a house before our move back, taking part in a P&G digital training, drafting two Fantasy Football teams, and attending a Tweet-up on Wednesday. 

So this week I wanted to turn the conversation to you on something I’ve been pondering lately.  It is a broad question, but I’ve been wondering how the Digital “Revolution” is going to change the way we do business?  It’s a question that many of my favorite marketing bloggers have been asking as well: 

Alan Wolk of The Toad Stool summed up the Real Digital Revolution as being:

…about consumer empowerment, the ability to research and learn about products and services and make decisions independently from, and in spite of, any sort of marketing and advertising messages.

Brian Morrissey wrote in AdWeek that Brands Need a New Kind of Leader to navigate the new media landscape:

The hiring of dedicated teams reflect the rising importance of social media in companies. Once thought of as an interesting new media channel, social media is increasingly seen as a catalyst for changing how companies operate. It points to a new corporate structure that favors open over closed, dialogue over monologue, and decentralized power over command and control.

And of course, Pete Blackshaw has talked about the importance of digital brand advocates for a while now:

Brand advocacy matters today because it precipitates an indelible digital trail of commentary that publicly rewards or indicts brand performance or the fulfillment of brand promises. This digital trail acts like media in both intimate and incidental ways, consistently affecting awareness, trail, and ultimately purchase of products — or the defection from them. And yes, this has everything to do with business growth and health.

So, how do you think the Digital Revolution is going to change the way Brand Managers work?  And is it really a revolution or just an evolution about connecting with consumers in new ways?

2 Responses to Is it a digital revolution…or just an evolution?

  1. Hi Dave, I’ve been reading your blog since IEG and you’ve got some great insight and interesting topics. Generally you seem to be right on the money so it’s not really a surprise that you’d be coming back to Ohio – congrats.

    As far as your question I think the answer has got to be split into two categories – Large and Small business. For a large business (like P&G) digital is just an evolution. Yes, it is different and companies will have to first staff up for it and then actually learn how to best exploit it. While I’ve seen some good attempts in different areas it seems pretty clear that there is a lot to try and not many companies (including the platforms like facebook) really know what will work yet. What’s worse is that there seems to be some talk about this outlet or that – podcasts or blogs or twitter or facebook – when in reality each of your consumers will use a different combination of social media outlets so large companies will need to use them all to hit everyone.

    As for Small businesses it is a Revolution. In the dark ages before the digital revolution everything was expensive. You had to have storefronts and market research firms and IT guys. Now everything is cheap. Ebay and e-commerce sites for sales, facebook and online surveys for research, and video posted on youtube and streamed to your site. It allows companies to do things that they couldn’t do previously.

    Ultimately the biggest challenge is the same for both: What is the best way to use the literally hundreds of new tools to best connect with your consumers to increase sales?

  2. Kevin says:

    I agree with the categorization set up by Mr. MacDonald, but will add a potentially misguided interpretation…

    The brand manager for a large company is entrusted with something of considerable value and therefore has the immediate burden of “not screwing it up.” So, it takes a tremendously bold person to step out and be revolutionary in that position. The adoption of digital media will be slow because it’s either unproven, the data is not established or trusted and so on.

    The small company can be more revolutionary because they don’t have the same overhear of preservation, and may be willing to be more experimental.

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