How the Age of Mad Men Would Perceive Facebook

To say technology has changed how we look at marketing is an understatement. The last 20 years has been a whirlwind as Internet technology and accessibility has changed how big and small companies alike create, budget, and implement advertising and marketing campaigns.

Small brands can suddenly reach the same audience is massive conglomerates through micro-targeting, pay-per-click, and social media. It’s happened before. TV, and radio before it, offered huge upheavals in marketing technologies, but never this fast.

And yet a lot of what we learn in school and come out ready to apply to new campaigns is from a different age. A time when technology moved a bit slower and audiences were more homogenous. Things have changed and if the godfathers of marketing were to see Facebook today they’d likely be more than a little miffed at how it all operates.

Modern Marketing is a Personal Affair

In the early and mid-20th century, marketing wasn’t necessarily new but it was certainly exciting and the ideas being bandied about were often revolutionary for their time. At the same time, there were far fewer restrictions on what you could say and how you could say it.

Cigarette salesmen could claim health benefits. Toothpaste became a massive industry because of a white lie. Common practices, like steaming beer bottles, became major marketing taglines. It was a wild-west of sorts and that allowed some of the brightest minds of the time to come out with outlandish and incredibly effective new techniques for marketing.

We still use many of those today. If you are studying the field and preparing for a career in it, you understand this all too well. Psychology, human buying behaviors, and social pressures are all closely linked to the product-purchase experience. Those things don’t change. But our perceptions of them do.

Facebook and marketing campaigns built-around it and similar platforms rely on a personal relationship. Brands build partnerships with individuals, micro-targeting demographics and experiences, and creating a dialogue that generates trust. That trust will one day lead to leverage in a sale, but not right away. It’s a slower process using much faster technologies, and it works extremely well because of that.

Some Things Never Change

While Facebook relies on sharing, commenting, and the perception that YOU care as much about your Fans as they care about you or your product, there are certain things that have never changed about the human buying experience. Things like:

  • Social Proof – Humans thrive because of the social dynamic we instill upon ourselves. Following a group is safer than going it alone. Marketers know this and use it in their campaigns to drive action from someone who might fear being left out of the group. In an inherently social environment this works even better on Facebook.
  • The Power of Scarcity – The rarer something becomes, the more valuable it is in the eyes of your prospects. It was true in 1960 and its true today. Except instead of Cadillacs and cigars, today’s scarce commodities tend to be digital. Information is the true equalizer in a world of easy access to near anything.
  • The “We” Mentality – People want to feel part of a group, but more importantly, once they are part of that group they will act consistent to the group’s shared ethos. In a social setting like Facebook, this works so well as you create a shared dialogue that teaches Fans to become customers.

When you can trigger these states of mind in your audience, they will respond the same as a man in the 50’s did to a automobile ad or a child did to the adverts in the back of a comic book. The format, delivery, and speed of interaction may have changed, along with the methods used to reach people, but the psychology and reasons these things work has not, one of the reasons marketing’s 50’s masterminds are still relevant today.

About the Author

Featured on websites in more than a dozen countries, Anthony Chatfield has consulted with business leaders, Fortune 500 companies, and entrepreneurs for much of the last decade.

Anthony currently lives in Staten Island, NY and produces marketing and content development training on numerous websites.

For more information, visit his Google+ Page.