Thursday, March 09, 2006

Obsolete marekting terms

If you look at the public financial statements of most newspapers, you will see that they list the number of subscribers under the rubric “Home delivery”. It’s a term used for ages, probably since the beginning of newspaper publishing (1st printed newspaper was published in 1605) and the service of bringing the newspaper to your doorstep (most likely introduced in the 19th century). What’s wrong with that?

The term “Home delivery” assumes that newspapers are still in the business of delivering a physical printed copy to people’s home. This term, used in newspapers business discussion every day, does not reflect the dramatic change in the newspaper industry from physical print to trusted content provider in any channel of relevance. Using the term “Home delivery” reflects that a newspaper has not yet begun its transformation of providing a contemporary value proposition: Trusted, local, and relevant News and Editorials. I suggest replacing this obsolete term “Home delivery” with “Subscription” which reflects much better today’s reality of paying for relevant content. A subscriber does not pay solely for a physical delivery of a printed news edition but subscribes to a trusted news brand, independent of channel delivery.
It’s not just a simple word change but forces newspaper to rethink in which business they really are. Sometimes a term change can trigger a much more profound discussion about necessary business transformations. Let me share some other marketing terms that fall in the same category of obsoleteness, and even worse, hindering business to see in which market they really are:
  • “Emerging Media”. This term is supposed to describe new media channels like Mobile phone, In-Store electronic displays, and any other media that seem to be new for the American consumer. I recommend for anyone using this term to travel to Japan and Korea to understand that most of these so called “Emerging Media” are the only way of life that young people in this country know and use with passionate addiction.
  • “Above-the-line and below-the-line advertising”: Born out of the distinction of how agencies did their client billings these two terms are utterly obsolete. After it lost its traditional meaning it was supposed to indicated the importance and higher relevance of Brand TV commercials (=Above-the-line) over other media channels. Today’s world is very different and does not grant anymore this favorable distinction to TV programs, it might even hinder general agencies to reinvent themselves.

I recommend to carefully analyzing marketing terms that we take for granted but that hinder us to see the relevant transformational forces that affect our industry. Technical or expert marketing terms are not just words but construct our reality and determine how we see and understand our world. Maybe you have some favorite obsolete marketing terms, too?

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