We keep getting told that things have changed hugely in the past few decades. That the world is a very different place to what it used to be. And they are right. Lots of ‘things’ have changed but the most important one hasn’t. That is fundamental human behaviour. Yet because lots of other things (e.g technology) have changed everyone seems to assume that this means us humans have changed. Take the rise of the internet. I remember 15 odd years ago, and the internet bubble, when investors threw money at any online shop in the belief that humans would start spending vast amounts of money online overnight. Which they didn’t. In fact today 9 out of 10 purchases are still made offline. Humans don’t change quickly, it takes generations.

So marketing to humans is really very simple and is the same as it was years ago. I know that the digital explosion has increased the number of channels that reach customers and the choices those customers have. But actually this means we need to focus more on what hasn’t changed. Which is providing value to humans.

Successful marketing is about a positive value exchange. Customers want to get something of value and you want something of value in return (ultimately money for commercial businesses). So all you have to do is understand your audience and what they require and then see if you can provide that (while making a profit). This simplicity just needs to be applied ruthlessly. For example if you are creating some online content make sure it’s of real value to your customers and what you want back doesn’t outweigh that value. Obviously the more resources you have at your disposal the more channels you can cover but the principle is the same. Importantly the more senior you are in an organisations marketing team the more you need to focus on driving this positive value exchange at every level.

If your marketing, or business, isn’t working it’s because your value exchange is wrong so don’t blame a more complex world or a new type of consumer.