“Instead of asking ‘How marketing is going to work differently in 10 years time?’, I think it’s a far more valuable question to ask ‘How is marketing not going to be different in 10 years time?’.” Duarte said.

What are the timeless truths of the marketing industry?

While there are many things, like technology, that have completely changed the game and continue to make the industry move at an extraordinary pace, there are also some fundamental things that don’t change.

“As long as we keep sight of those, we are going to be able to go in a valuable direction,” he said.

Advancing technology has made it easier than ever to advertise to an audience. You can do it on a laptop, tablet or even a cellphone — meaning that anyone can start a little marketing business. But, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out.

“Consumers are swimming in a sea of sameness,” Duarte said.

With so much content out there — websites, blogs, social media, video, print, etc — consumers’ attention is maxed-out. This makes attention more valuable now than ever before, but it is becoming increasingly expensive to acquire.

So, how do you stand out?

Duarte suggested that to get attention, brands need to be:
  • Cognitively kind — think about how your brand impacts the community / country / world
  • Consistent — you need to be instantly recognisable to consumers
  • Authentic — don’t promote something you don’t really believe in
  • Surprising — same old same old doesn’t cut it anymore
If we call this the post-attention era, then the most valuable commodity is trust. Why, you ask? Well, consumers don’t have any more attention to give but they can put their trust in your brand. Duarte said that consumers are moving into space where they are turning off content and instead, buying into systems that they can trust.

For example, many people are tired of searching through multiple platforms to find news and instead, are subscribing to a single service and paying to receive their content. In that way, consumers trust a particular brand to give them the news they need to know.

Consumers are moving into space where they are turning off content and instead, buying into systems that they can trust,

Where to from here?

The next level for brands is pre-suasion — where people trust a particular brand and keep going back to them. Why? Because they trust the brand.

Duarte noted that algorithmic decision-making is on the rise, with consumers being willing to share their data with brands if they can help consumers make better, more informed decisions.

“They just go, ‘You know what, I don’t care enough about which yoghurt brand to buy, just make the decision for me.’ So, algorithmic decision making is on the rise. ‘I will share my data if you help me make better choices.’”

This, he said, is why behavioural insights are so important. Once you know what people’s preferences are — or what they want to achieve — it is easier to offer them content that is appropriate.

Further, Duarte said that the digital metrics people measure can often be deceiving. While brands often measure Likes, shares and impressions, click farms and fake followers are an industry reality. Instead, he suggested that attribution modelling is going to change from impressions to behaviours.

The example he gave of this was ‘encouraging people to stop smoking’. The reality is that no amount of telling people to stop smoking will get the job done. Instead, it has to be broken down into small behavioural nudges, like raising the price of cigarettes, asking people to smoke outside and to make it socially unacceptable.

And in the digital context, all of these little nudges can be measured.

What elements do you think make up a timeless marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments section below.

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A staggering 46% of the South African population is made up of people under the age of 25. This means that the youth is an important sector for marketers to reach out to. Read more in our article, Hey marketers — here are five ways you can attract Gen Z.