Smart refrigerator? Check.
Smart home? Check.
Smart lawn mower? Check.
Smart marketer? We’ll see.
At the recently concluded CES 2017, there were approximately 20,000 products, with at least 19,998 seemingly described in press releases as either “revolutionary,” “innovative” or both. The question is, how many caught the fancy of the modern marketing professional to the detriment of one’s senses and bottom lines?
I do have something else to say about the product launches and business models that stretched our imagination. That message is: brand marketers, beware.
I’m not anti-innovation. Quite the contrary, in fact. I’m in tech as much for the unknown as the known, but let’s concentrate on the known for a minute. The nearly 180,000 in attendance at CES are not the norm.
What we saw at the Las Vegas Convention Center were early-adopter models that may cause a ripple on Twitter but not on Main Street. Specifically, the following caught my eye:
· Multiple refrigerators with internet connections on the doors, enabling access to nutritional information, product reviews and purchasing options
· Cylinders and other form factors created to respond to voice prompts
· Drones, which created more buzz than the great majority of products
· Large video displays in automobiles designed to keep inhabitants connected, entertained and informed
However, each of these products came with as many questions as answers:
· Will greedy brands force advertising onto fridge doors and spook owners by how much they know about consumption? (“You drink four beers a night, so here’s a way to keep the supply on hand.”)
· Will consumers have to listen to ads before they get responses to their voice prompts?
· Will drones buzz by houses and disturb the quiet so many seek? Will they be carrying ads alongside milk and bread?
· Will we see a proliferation of ads in cars, causing drivers and passengers to feel like the technology offers brands yet another screen to deliver unwanted content? When does all of this become a distraction that causes peril on the roads?
So, what is a modern marketing professional to do? The smartest ones are relying on a mix of products and services that aren’t necessarily aimed at early adopters. Ford is pioneering in many areas, but it also employs a variety of proven mobile strategies and tactics that lead to sales and loyalty.
An example of this is a text call-to-action in a Ford newspaper ad that produced a 15.4 percent lead conversion. An influencer on Twitter described the program as “meat and potatoes.” As a CMO who hasn’t touched beef in decades, I’ll dine on “meat and potatoes” all day and all night for such lead success.
There likely will be a time to spend brand dollars against many of the concepts introduced in Las Vegas. Just not in the hours after CES — or even the months ahead.