WE AID – a marketing paradigm for the user-centered era

  • Jon Lund 

During the concluding debate at the Interactive Advertising Conference in London yesterday, it suddenly became clear to me, how the media landscape of today opens up a brand new palette of opportunities for marketers. A palette of opportunities that might constitute a whole new marketing paradigm. Let me propose to you the “WE AID” paradigm.

Traditionally marketing has been seen as the skill of creating first Attention, then Interest, Desire and Action – as known in the AIDA model. Some ten years ago, however, something happened. Under the “I am not a consumer”-heading, “consumers” started reacting against the direct call for action – reclaiming their right to decide for themselves what to do and when to do it. In effect the Action-part af the AIDA lost much of its meaning: Hence – I’d suggest – AIDA lost its “A”, now simply crying out “AID”.

Fortunately the great shift in media technology and user behaviour now come marketers to the rescue. The shift is based in the interactive possibilities of the digital media that are unfolding these years. Its seen reflected when more than 5 million Brazilian internet users downloaded their own personal “Winks”-looks for the Microsoft Messenger chat-program. When millions of users upload their own photos to the flickr photosharing website. And when other millions blog on about whatever is on their mind – as eg. the Kryptonite Lock had a feel of, when a blogger published his own video showing how very easy the “unbreakable” lock could be unlocked, only using a simple plastic Bic-Pen. Forcing the company to withdraw the lock.

“The consumer has become creator” cofounder and chairman Ajaz Ahmed of AKQA said at the advertising conference yesterday, when diagnosing the present state of marketing. His words were echoed in the presentations of a whole bunch of the other speakers. Users want to interact. Want to be part of the content production. And they do it, whenever they get the chance.

And this is the great news! Instead of regretting that advertising today has limited opportunities of controlling the choice of consumers, marketers today are confronted with vast opportunities of resources only waiting to be awoken in consumers. Opportunities marketers can take advantage of, by entering the new sphere of market-“conversations”. Conversations – or dialogue – in the true sense of the word, where both parties are allowed to unfold and expressing themselves.

Marketing is no longer about “us” telling “them” what to do or buy. It’s not a “they” telling “us” what to do either. Or it does not have to be at least (though it is a danger luring under the surface).

Instead the art of marketing is now a question of “we”. Of marketers and consumers joining together and in cooperation drawing Attention, getting Interested and arousing Desire. Today marketing – when it’s at its best – is a question of how “WE AID”.