Could it be that it was all so simple then?

For 60 years or more marketers knew what it was they were supposed to do: develop brand standards, brochures, websites, TV spots, flyers and letters to stuff into #10 envelopes; buy mailing lists, ad space and air time; and generate a lot of paper – strategic decks, proposals, briefs, research reports, marketing plans and post-buy analyses.

The stuff made was tangible, pretty and pretty routine. People knew their jobs, knew how to trigger sales and knew how to make money.

But everything has gotten messed up.

Clay Shirky on “The Transformed Media Landscape.”

We live in an era where media is increasingly global, social, ubiquitous and cheap, to quote Clay Shirky. There just isn’t the same need for sexy ads, glossy brochures and direct mail campaigns. We have Google, smartphones and Twitter.

So what are marketers to do?

The answer, surprisingly, is to continue to do many of the things we’ve always done, but sometimes do them for different reasons.

McKinsey has given us a good aid in understanding what’s happening (and what we should do to take advantage of the opportunities present) with its study of the new consumer decision journey.

McKinsey’s study suggests that advertising is still important to get a product or service into a consumer’s mental consideration set. But it also suggests that advertising has become important as validation, confirmation that a purchase somebody has already made is worth telling somebody else about. Branding is still important, though the McKinsey study suggests that brand equity can be hijacked by search and social savvy competitors. Merchandising and packaging are still important, in fact more important than ever now that consumers delay making their final purchasing decisions until the point of sale. And marketing after the sale has become absolutely critical not just for loyalty, but also to drive engagement leading to influence and word-of-mouth.

All this is still awfully confusing to most people. But don’t let that stop you from thinking about it. The good news is not everything is new. Projects can be outlined, developed and implemented as they’ve always been. However, during development, it wouldn’t hurt to discuss the new consumer decision journey to make sure the project under development does all the work it can.