What do we call this newish marketing?

In conversations this week about “new marketing”, or “newer”. I’m having a problem with taxonomy. I know it’s not “digital marketing” because moon boots are out of style and so is that term (but hey, I’m reliving 1987 this week so maybe I’ll pull that term out a few times). I hate the term web 2.0 because it’s just this big blob of trendy, I’m-cool-because-I-use-terms-fashioned-after-software-release-nomenclatureness. Still hate it, still see it being used by people that don’t want to define why their web 2.0 thing is cool, they just want you to take their word for it because they already showed you their web 2.0.

What I’m trying to define is this collection of marketing activities that are enabled my current media. So it’s where marketing meets blogs and wikis, viral activities (from mail to video to in-person stuff), community engagement in all it’s forms, cell phone marketing, non-traditional influence marketing (a la Huba and McConnell). The challenge that I am having is that it’s hard to put my finger on the one thing that all of these have in common other than the fact that they fall outside of how we did marketing ten years ago.  Some are technology enabled and some are grassrootsy.

Calling them “non-traditional” or “new media” doesn’t work well. What’s new now isn’t in a few years and what’s non-traditional now becomes traditional with more widespread adoption. Or maybe it is “new media” and the selection of media to choose from changes as we move forward. But then “new media” turns into the new “web 2.0” where people have to guess about what you are talking about.

Help me out here. If you are working at a company that does these types of things (or have seen a company do any of them well), can you tell me a little bit about what it is and what you call it?

Comments (17)

  1. Heather:

    Most of the formats you mentioned utilize user-generated content, i.e. dynamic webpages, so you could almost call this the "mass customization" of marketing, perhaps the last great wave of mass customization in our economy.  It’s almost telling the consumer:  Choose the campaign that speaks to you!  Everything from customizing your MSN homepage to responding to a vblog on Channel 9.

    To me, these types of outlets should be all about re-establishing a relationship again with the customer, something that’s harder and harder to do in suburbanized, couch-ridden America.  It can put the organization much closer to the feedback loop with the customer that should inform everything the company does.

  2. Rob says:

    Use the the nebulous term "new marketing", as you will always be correct and up to date no matter when you utter it.

  3. Two terms to consider–although neither fits all of your examples perfectly–are social media marketing and word of mouth marketing. You can be all trendy and buzzword-compliant without using version numbers. 🙂

  4. AdamB says:


    Great question.  I think that the common thread that you are looking for with "newish marketing" is the fact that marketing is now an interaction – a conversation – between the marketer and the audience.  Seth Godin talks a lot about this in his books, especially "Permission Marketing," which is as good a label as any I have heard.  I also have heard it called "interactive marketing" or "engaged marketing" or "connected marketing."

    In other words, marketers now use tools (blogs, email, wikis, etc.) that permit the audience to engage, ask questions, provide feedback, critique products, and, most importantly for the marketer, "self qualify" themselves as good prospects for the marketer’s product or service.

    Interactive Marketing would cover all the things you cite and more:  web2.0, viral, blogs, wikis, location-based mobile marketing, prospect match-making services, and others.

    The concept extends beyond the web and is changing trade shows, local advertising, direct mail, and television (the famous KFC "subliminal" coupon ad and the GE One Second Theater are good examples.)



  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Anthony….customer relationship re-marketing?

    Rob – nope, that’s not the point. Correct but nebulous isn’t how I roll 😉

    Nathan – good ones. I think they fall under an umbrella as yet to be named. I apprecaite the lack of numbers.

    Graham – that’s good. Maybe "New Rules Marketing". That seems to capture everything.

    Adam – that’s good. I like "interactive marketing". I’m trying to figure out if there’s a acategory of marketing I want to put onto the bucket that won’t work under "interactive marketing". I have to think about that. I need to look up your examples…hadn’t heard of those!

    The thing that I am noticing as we talk about this is that people seem to name marketing based on 1) the purpose (influence marketing), 2) the medium (web marketing), 3) or the customers relationship to or participation in the marketing (User generated, etc). I think interactive hits 1 & 3 (and hitting 2 is really hard since there are a wide variety of media available). "New rules marketing" could hit all of them or none and make you sound mysterious.

    I still need to think about interactive. Is YouTube interactive for the viewer? Does clicking the play button count?

    This is great..you guys are helping me think this through.

  6. Wine-Oh says:

    Im glad someone mentioned Seth Godin. I was going to myself, not only because our company handed out copies of  "The Big Moo" to everyone this morning, but because I think his thoughts and ideas play into this. I also consider interactive marketing to have a level of personalization and customization. Way back yonder the web came in 1 flavor and it was impersonal. Now its about getting information to people through a variety of ways, and customizing that experience per user.

  7. Heather:

    Does watching YouTube constitute interactivity?  Not per se, but navigating it to the computer indicates engagement.

    To me, what these technologies are all about is restoring two-way communication to the organization / consumer relationship.

    At its best, we can use all this feedback and metric data available from the web to constantly re-orient the organization to the consumer.

    As far as who is doing it well, I think Jay Allard’s division is doing a great job marketing the X-Box, particularly the Halo products.  There was a TV commercial of a Halo toy soldier battle followed by a website where you could watch the battle from any angle.  Now that’s customer engagement.

    Also check out http://www.iheartcavemen.com/.

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh yeah, I saw the cavemen. Novel, but does it sell insurance? I’ll check out the Halo stuff.

  9. jorge says:

    don’t worry about names because labels are normally a waste of time; just keep doing whatever makes your marketing effective

    looking forward to catching up in sydney (if i get the bucks to go to the talent conference 🙂


  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’m not actually a marketer. Reason why I ask has to do with how I find these people….have to know what to look for.

  11. Adam Boone says:

    I think YouTube can represent interactive marketing, in a few respects:

    1)  Users who click on a particular video are "self selecting" to receive that message … they are interested in the topic of the video.  If the video happens to be a clever piece of viral marketing, then the marketer’s message is received by a willing participant in the interactive marketing "conversation." Alternatively, if ads are inserted related to the topic, then there is an impression with a potentially receptive viewer.

    2) Users forward links to the most interesting videos to their friends, becoming conduits for the viral message … and you are much more likely to click on a link that you receive from a friend than one from some anonymous marketer.

    3)  YouTube enables anyone who has a camera to post videos … in effect we all gain the ability to distribute our message and point of view, promote the concepts or products we like, and, in effect, continue the "conversation" with marketers in unique ways.  Think about the thousands of Star Wars / Matrix / Lord of the Rings oriented videos that fans make and post to the video sites like YouTube … is there any better customer base than one that makes promoting your product into its hobby?

    Where this all gets dicey is when the message gets out of the marketer’s control, which is bound to happen when the digital world enables everyone to make and distribute media very easily.

    I agree with Anthony … the marketing around Halo has been brilliant.  Especially the Alternate Reality Game strategy, which is both viral and highly interactive …  it is a tour de force of newish marketing.



  12. John Cass says:

    You might not like this term, as you don’t like web 2.0, however social media appears to be gaining in strength.

  13. Paul says:

    The problem I have with terms like Web 2.0 and social media and digital marketing and interactive marketing etc. is that they are all about how, not what.  It’s the same "feature-based" product marketing mistake that distinguishes poor marketing that commoditizes products from strong marketing that speaks to the jobs a customer needs to hire your product for.  Perhaps that’s why so many tech marketers can’t effectively name what they do — too much concern for features and not enough for real consumer benefit.

    The single thing that most characterizes "old style" marketing is that it is "at you", whereas new style tactics tend towards "with you".  Old marketing is a preachy monologue.  New marketing (done right) is a fully engaged conversation.  So, if it needs a label, call it conversational marketing.  At least then I understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish, rather than how you’re trying to do it.

  14. John Cass says:


    I am afraid I must disagree with Paul on his assessment of what marketing is all about. Though I might agree with him that many marketing departments are focused on acquisition and retention. The marketing concept if implemented correctly fits in perfectly with the community building businesses can conduct using new online media.

    I also think the term social media describes a website where people contribute content, I am not sure of the origin, but I think it might have been a technology term, rather than marketing.

  15. Paul says:

    @John – I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with, since I never did an assessment on what marketing is all about.  "The marketing concept if implemented correctly" is a pretty big qualification, since it almost never is (implemented correctly).  And, you seem to have read too deeply between the lines and put a lot of words into my mouth.

    You can do marketing well or poorly, the old way or the new way.  What I was offering was a collective description of the new techniques that describes what they lend themselves to, trying to characterize a positive purpose.  There is no denying that old marketing techniques are one way — we didn’t have the technical capability for two way conversation until very recently.  However, even social media, which sounds friendlier, is technology focused (how), rather than intent focused (what).

    Moreover, there is nothing wrong with a purposeful focus on acquisition and retention.  In fact, having an authentic and honest conversation with customers and prospects is a great contributor to that.  While my business focus is on helping people, ultimately the reason I have a business is to sell stuff, just as you are trying to sell your book.  If you aren’t acquiring and retaining, you won’t have a marketing job for very long.

    In any case, I don’t understand your comment or what you are disagreeing with.

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    My opinion is that Paul argues his position as if it were a statement of fact. Seriously…Paul, it’s OK that John disagrees with you even if you don’t understand why. I really appreciate hearing what you have to say, but I have to admit that in the past, it has felt a little like you have preached  it to us and everyone is required to agree and if they don’t they are wrong. It can be a little initimidating to disagree with you and I can imagine some people not participating in the conversation because of the expected response from you. I know that I have felt that way in the past.

    I’m interested in some clarification from John on what he meant without judging whether I agree or not. John, what did you mean by "the marketing concept"? I agree with you regarding social media; people generally use the term to describe what you said.

    Paul – I’m not really sure I understood your point. I think it’s possible for a company to do customer needs based marketing and whether they describe the medium by the "how" or the "what" is incidental. Can you help me understand the connection in

    The one thing I will disagree with is the idea that there’s something inherently wrong with feature based marketing. I could be misguided here but in a mature market based on a well-recognized set of customer needs and many competitive product offerings to address those needs, aren’t features a key differentiator? If I’m a customer and I recognize my need with the intention to fill it, I don’t need marketing to tell me what my need is but to help me decide how to fill it.