Published on Forbes 1/22/2014
Our team at Fishbowl recently met with Jeff Olsen, a successfully published author and senior marketing executive from ThomasARTS, a marketing agency that has survived the roller coaster economic ride for the past five years. Jeff reminded us that whether we like it or not, we are all marketers in the 21st century and we can learn a great deal from those who came before us.
In 2012 we spent some time learning from the Mayans and we think you’ll enjoy Olsen’s timeless wisdom and advice for 2014. We were impressed with Jeff’s ability to cut through all the hype and get to the heart of the matter when it comes to marketing in 2014.
We have all watched trends come and go. If you are considering a career in marketing, if you are already working in the marketing field, or if you have a marketing department or outsource your marketing, you might appreciate Jeff’s fresh and direct approach. Here is our interview with Jeff. We would love to hear your thoughts on his insights. 2014 looks to be another innovative and evolving year in the marketing sector.
David Williams: What’s the “real” story on how the emergence of new technology and social media impacted business professionals?
Jeff Olsen: All this “new stuff” isn’t really as new as it appears. New technology has only emerged based on an age-old desire for humankind to connect to each other. Through the ages, we have gathered around the fire to tell our stories and connect. And at its core, great marketing is simply great storytelling.
Social media is the new fire for us to gather around and converse. One might think of strong, smart brands as interesting people engaged in this timeless form of connection. They tell relevant, intriguing stories. New technology simply enables the conversation to again be two-way, and allows us to select who we care to converse with. When the first cave people put their hand prints on the wall and “posted” that they had been there, it came from that same human desire to make a mark and influence others by your message.
Today, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Vines, Instagram, Flicker, Tinder and even Audible.com are simply current ways for us humans to make our mark, influence our peers, and spread our message. The fire we gather around now has simply grown immensely, making the world a much smaller place.
As marketing professionals, our job is to assist brands as they play around this giant new fire. We work to make brands relevant and interesting on a very human level. We must become very good storytellers. It is no longer good enough to communicate the features or benefits of any given product. We need to connect at the core level of emotion to actually get someone to listen. Strategies have to be far more focused. Audiences must be understood at a much deeper level. Campaigns must be far more creative and engaging to ever break through. Simplicity and authenticity are important, too. Say what you mean and mean what you say in a very concise and enchanting way.
The fact is, as humans we hate to be sold, but we don’t mind being entertained.
If the brand can entertain them a bit, tickle their feelings a bit, and prove its relevance by striking an emotional cord, people are much more likely to act. Being more personal, more endearing and more creative is the integrity of making connections as we engage around the online fire.
Williams: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in marketing?
Olsen: Learn to be interesting and relevant. Be authentic and honest. Feel, and thereby inspire others to feel when they engage with you. Knowing how to be effective in social media is no different than knowing how to be effective in our interactions around the fire. It’s instinctive. Tap into that instinct, and you will help companies create appealing personalities that folks want to sit with and talk to.
Williams: What advice would you give to a tenured professional with 15 to 20 years under his/her belt?
Olsen: The tenured professional with years of experience under his/her belt gets to engage differently. For years we have let technology drive the message. Now we must put the message first, and let the technology simply be the carrier. Humanize your brand. Allow people to interact with it openly and honestly. Learn the new mediums and how they work, but realize they are only mediums. Use them as tools to communicate with your audience where they live, but focus on getting the message right first. The message must connect powerfully on a human level — even if it’s found sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin on the floor under a subway seat.
Williams: How do you see marketing evolving in the next five years?
Olsen: The market moves so quickly and changes so rapidly that I won’t even begin to guess where we might be in five years. But there’s one thing I’m quite sure of: Humans will still have a desire to connect.
They will still have emotions to feel with and there will be yet another fire to gather around.
There you have it. Words of advice from a veteran who has been around and will be around for many years to come.