Obsolescence … Ways to Avoid in Digital Marketing Strategy

Henry Ford nailed this content meaning, didn’t he? And it is critical to remember, especially is these times, you are never done avoiding obsolescence in digital marketing strategy.

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  • Henry Ford  

    obsolescence in digital marketing strategy
    Obsolescence in digital marketing strategy.

When I was a boy, growing up in the south, I remember hearing my father remarking about many products he bought, “The salesman told me we’d never have to buy another one, it’ll last a lifetime.”


Looking back on those days, Coke bottles were heavier but smaller; car bumpers were so strong we could walk on them and never make a dent. It seemed everything was “built to last.”


Now, in 2014, it seems like everything is built to fail. A crash in a new 2014 automobile at 5 miles per hour is equivalent to a house payment or more. Depending on when you bought your house.


Related: Innovation in Marketing … the Birchbox Subscription Model


We have disposable razors, plastic coke bottles, disposable cameras and a host of other items too lengthy to list here. When did it become OK with the public to buy more and more of the same product and failure or breakage is an accepted norm?


For some products, it’s easy to see that planned obsolescence is inevitable. I can understand why we might want to buy a product because of certain improvements or additions. For example, many people junked their good old dependable black and white televisions for the new and improved color versions. Computers seem to be obsolete as soon as they are loaded into the car. Even more so for smartphones.


Becoming obsolete is a reality in today’s fast-moving environment. Today’s marketers need to leave their comfort zone and venture into an environment that does not seems to want to sit still.


Luckily, it doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning the principles they’ve learned along the way. It just means evolving their thinking and applying these same principles to the new evolving mediums.


Consider these ten principles of today’s digital marketing strategy:


perceived obsolescence
Perceived obsolescence.

Value is the new currency

One of the hardest lessons for marketers to have learned was to refrain from leading with the overt company or product messages. Leading with value has become a difficult principle to adopt, after years of “me-me-me” communications.


Declining performance of digital ad units means marketers must rethink content with a more consistent position of the customer.


Obsolescence … customer experience not a luxury

A more informed customer expects an optimal experience that 

allows them to shop and receive their purchases where they want when they want and how they want.

This means providing the ‘continuous experience’ across brands, devices, and format: mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog, etc.


Today’s marketer must be channel-agnostic and aware of many websites, platforms, and channels where customers are researching, eliciting recommendations, price-comparing and ultimately, buying.


Obsolescence examples … data and insights

The promise of customer data brings with it enormous benefits that can now inform customer preferences; identify relevant prospects in real-time; distil meaning from reams of information where it impacts competitive or brand reputation.


The opportunities to target more granularly beyond just “company”-collected transactions provides profound instances to find the right customer, at the right time, in the right channels, with the right message.


The need for effective data analysts to compile this information across multiple platforms and mediums will be an essential component to target for acquisition effectively; improve retention rates and optimize for real-time performance.



planned obsolescence examples
Planned obsolescence examples.


As digital grows up, the areas mentioned above will move companies to start to shift in ways that put the needs of the customers at the center of the business. One-to-one marketing will become a reality as data allows us to customize experiences for each customer truly.

Retention will get increasingly more difficult as marketing channels and platforms rise and fall with the ever-changing consumer.


Real-time decisions

Gone are the days of relying on historical data. These days, any data point longer than 90 days is too old and therefore, much less relevant. No longer are we required to sit and wait for results.

With data becoming more embedded in our daily work, marketers must work towards a more agile environment. This means becoming more data responsive to an increasingly fragmented and changing marketplace.



Social is essential

Building effective community management services will no longer be able to be outsourced. This function will need to live internal to each business.

Only employees within the organization, with the proper knowledge and solutions, can effectively troubleshoot customer complaints and provide the right responses in the expected timeframe. An emerging discipline in community /customer relationship management will be critical to gauge and respond to the pulse of the community.



Changing  customer needs

All mediums are converging. Appointment TV is dead. The customer dictates the content they want to consume, across multiple mediums, the times they want it.

On-demand mediums will challenge the marketer as consumers move swiftly between tablets to a smartphone to television.

More to think about: What Marketers Need to Know about Personalization Strategies 



Social media permits open two-way channel conversations. This now provides brands with the ability to not only build relationships but benefit from the effort and commitment to nurturing customer relationships through these channels.

Word of mouth and advocacy are strong indicators of brands doing it right. The value of organic traffic that results from content value, social consistency, and customer commitment, is beginning to surpass the more costly campaign-driven ad-buys and promotions.


Context is essential

Google has gone beyond just keyword and now tries to extract real meaning from what people search or speak about. Semantic algorithms go this one step further and now give marketers the tools to truly understand what people need and want.

This will help predict and define areas the brand can connect and provide value to customers. The best explanation of this was from Matt Hixson of Tellagence:


Relationships are formed, often over a period, around a context.  Think about your relationships.  You may have interacted with me over time about startups or social analytics.  The more we interact, the more we start to trust each other about the subject. We may form a relationship within multiple contexts but our relationship and level of trust changes from topic to topic.




As digital grows up, the areas mentioned above will move companies to start to shift in ways that put the needs of the customers at the center of the organization.

One-to-one marketing will become a reality as data allows us to customize experiences for each customer truly. Retention will get increasingly harder as mediums and platforms rise and fall with the ever-changing consumer.




Marketing is no longer a discipline with best practices and tried and true techniques. As long as the technology exists, and media evolves, consumers will continue to find new ways to connect and consume information. What’s clear is that these days our traditional definition of longevity is short-lived. Not only does the marketer need to morph with the times, so does the business. And much more rapidly.




So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is completely up to you. But believe in the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing. And put it to good use.


It’s up to you to keep improving your creative marketing efforts. Lessons are all around you. In this case, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.


All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.


When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.


Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.


Are you devoting enough energy improving your marketing, branding, and advertising?


Do you have a lesson about making your marketing strategy better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?


Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.


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Obsolescence … Ways to Avoid in Digital Marketing Strategy