What Disruptive Marketing Means for the Way Brands and Planners Communicate

Microsoft’s Geoffrey Colon says planners and brands need to adapt to this new world driven by changes in technology and user behavior.

Geoffrey Colon is a communications designer who studies the intersection of marketing, technology, and popular culture. In addition to his work for Microsoft, Colon produces the “Disruptive FM” podcast, which he describes as the “marketing podcast for eccentric minds.” At Digital Now, a conference for association executives produced by Fusion Productions and held at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, Colon spoke on Friday about how traditional marketing is disappearing in favor of what he calls “disruptive marketing.” Here are some of his main ideas.

Disruptive marketing is the spread of ideas to people, from people, based on purpose.
Marketing used to reside primarily on limited channels, such as television, radio, and print, and was only available to those who had the means to pay for that communication. In today’s world, everyone has a personal device, so everyone has the ability to be media, according to Colon. “And now the best platform may be when you get a text message or a phone call from a friend and they tell you about something and that excites you,” he said. “That has really changed marketing because you have to think about what the human condition is.”

We live in a post-remix world.
In the old world, companies created their messages. Now, people look at the materials and information being shared by companies and then often spread those ideas with their own interpretation. “Now how do organizations create a message knowing people will remix it into their own verbiage or wording or media … and how do they inspire them to share that,” Colon says. The benefit of this is that messages coming from individuals, with their own spin on it, can be construed as more authentic, he says.

Put people first, and remember technology is only a tool.
“In the marketing world, for a long time it was easy to say these are the platforms we’re going to pay attention to,” he says. “Now I want you think, how can you be a generalist?” Colon suggests marketers make decisions based on empathy, emotional intelligence, connectedness, passion, and motivation, with a focus on behavior, not technology or platforms.

Face-to-face events are more important than ever.
The development and adoption of technology has actually helped to boost the value of events. “I used to go to events quite a bit at the dawn of social media, and you could barely get people there, because a lot of the early adopters were sort of like, ‘I can do all my communication online.’ Well that’s flipped now. We are so immersed online that we are craving human connection again,” Colon says.

Personalization is a must.
Colon cautions marketers against using stereotypes to determine what people want. “We have to look at people based on their interests, instead of, ‘That’s a millennial so they’ll want this,’” he says. With advances in artificial intelligence, marketers will be able to access data about an individual’s habits and preferences. “We are getting to a world where business is like it was in my great-grandfather’s generation. He ran a store and everyone who came into that store he knew. He knew what they liked to buy, he knew their kids. We now will be able to do that with millions and millions of customers. We’ll really know who those people are and what motivates those people.”

The Internet of everything is coming.
Companies first used the Internet as a way to share content that already existed in the physical world. Then it transitioned to enhanced digital content, with companies such as Google and Facebook building systems on top of the Internet. Now Colon says we are transitioning to Web 3.0, which will not be defined by hardware or software but by partnerships. “You have to collaborate. That is how you survive in this new era,” he says. “Companies will have access to a lot more information by being connected. Right now we have smart devices, but we don’t really have a smart planet. And that’s what this Web 3.0 is going to do.”

Article Written By: Mitra Sorrells with Biz Bash