Is Advertising Dead? An Exploration into how to Reach the Elusive Customer

At a recent Nomacorc Marketing Exchange event, titled “The Customer Journey: From Pre-Commerce to Post-Purchase,” I noticed an underlying message of the power of influencers. For a few years now, traditional advertising has been on the decline in efficacy, giving way to peer-to-peer interaction and those who shape the conversations, aka “the influencers.” Keynote speaker Bob Pearson of W2O Group in San Francisco, revealed the changing view of the media landscape. In a phrase, “everything has changed.”

Breaking News TwitterContent we consume does not emerge from conventional media outlets as it has since the dawn of broadcast communication, but through friends and networks. Think about the last time you heard about breaking news… was it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram? A friend? Or CNN, Fox News or a major news outlet’s website? I can personally say my news often comes through social media, posted in real time by a passionate influencer who keeps on top of things. Apparently, this shift is happening to many people. Pearson postulates that news flows emanate from different drivers now, ranked in this order: Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, mainstream media and then video.

The major shift lies in the location of news consumption. The audience that advertising attempts to reach used to be defined by general habits such as watching ESPN, Lifetime Channel, or a more traditional news channel. But over time we have learned that we’re not one big pool of people with isolated interests that spend time in only one place–our attention is fragmented. We use multiple devices, and conduct simultaneous conversations on different mediums–think talking to or listening to Super Bowl fans on Twitter while watching the game live. An influencer in this social media Super Bowl scenario could be a blogger who geeks out on football stats and knows likely too much about them. He tweets constantly during the broadcast. Other fans read these thoughts, retweet or engage.

tv-and-textingThese influencers reach the audience, so marketers need to find the guy or girl who is engaged in the space that means something to their business–no matter what the outlet is, since audience is now more important than the outlet. And in no industry is it more important to grasp than the over-crowded wine space.

Get involved

Getting involved in the conversation is crucial.

At another Nomacorc Marketing Exchange last year, Jeff Dubiel, CMO at The Wine Group, likened the wine business to the greeting card business–he saw it as that competitive. He said, “Imagine a customer standing in front of a rack of wine or greeting cards–for most consumers, it’s the same overwhelming experience.”

So to stay relevant and reach the right consumers, a wine brand should find the outreaching influencer voice for its content category. If you make sparkling wine, find the bride blogger who openly adores bubbly on social media, become friends with her and birth a fan with a unique, authentic story. By identifying this type of influencer, a brand can develop an advocate. Or potentially, a second, word-of-mouth sales force.

According to Pearson, there are approximately 50 influencers in each content category. If a brand identifies these people then engages them with passionate storytelling and friendship, the impact could be a touchdown. And complete the 180-degree transition from talking at people (advertising) to talking with people–or storytelling.

Photos courtesy of and Soundview Business Solutions.

About the Author

Taylor has been writing about wine since 2001 on her website,, as well as in publications spanning the globe. To support her food and wine habits, she has an MBA in Marketing and helps build wine brands in Northern California.


  1. Is it simply a question of reaching the consumer or having your message encoded into their memory? Creating brand awareness without recurrence of purchase can be very expensive. Certainly with the advent of social media, how we communicate has irrevocably been altered. But what has remained constant but lost in the conversation is, why we communicate. To enhance consumer’s inner & social self-identities in a meaningful-differentiating manner. Reaching the “elusive” consumer is truly not difficult. Stop communicating to their cognitive brain, they cannot hear you. Because ninety-three percent of decisions are formed in the emotional brain. The brain is very busy. Being exposed to 11,000,000 pieces of information every second. But only capable of of encoding 40 pieces into memory. Now, how important is that brand message from a consumer’s prospective? The information encoded into memory is weighted on the bases of meaningful-differentiation. How do product facts or product-stories help consumers elevated their self-identity?

    An even bigger communication problem for 2016, words no longer simulate brand loyalty, especially for females and millennials. They now trade in the currency of brand-actions. They have altered the brand value equation:
    In addition break through brands need a voice that is distant from the wine industry norm of educational, scientific, complex and authoritative. To insure a unique and identifiable brand-position in the crowded marketplace. Thus allowing your brand to evolve through actions, thus maintaining market freshness through social relevance overtime.

    Since the wine industry is rooted in scientific facts, i find it ironic they lack a similar scientific understanding of the brains neurobiology. A comprehensive understanding of consumer’s decision making process and what truly triggers purchasing decisions should be achieved. Thereby allowing marketing departments to rely on science not myths and tradition. There is an art to communicating with the brain. How can one expect positive outcomes if they fail to understand stimulus inputs? Until the industry stops strategizing inside the bottle and begins strategizing inside the brain, multi-millions of dollars will continue to be wasted each year.

    There are no touchdowns in branding. Just first downs on an endless field, because the brand relationship is hopefully never ending……. if orchestrated correctly. Wineries must shape and lead their own brand conversation or support other likeminded conversations. A conversation not about their product but their brand, which is not one and the same. Yes, a category influencer can cause brand awareness but not solve the core problem “marketing department we have no brand, just products”

    Roll Tide

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