By Brooke Schultz
Elm Staff Writer
Don Steele, Class of 1991, returned to Washington College on Feb. 26 to give students and staff a marketing lecture entitled “Marketing with Millennials.” He currently works for Comedy Central as the senior vice president of multi-platform marketing and fan engagement.
Steele talked about the history of marketing and how it has evolved over time. “If we just thought about television, we would be dead in 18 months. I guarantee you that people in this room don’t watch linear television. You guys watch apps, Netflix, Amazon Prime,” he said.
Marketing has developed from people passively watching television at 10 p.m. to a brand. Steele doesn’t just market TV, he markets video games, tours, events, and apps. It goes beyond asking people to tune in.
In the past, there was a marketing funnel that targeted awareness, interest, affinity, and intent. Now the funnel has evolved. In addition to the others it expands to viewership, engagement, and advocacy. “It doesn’t just stop at the rating. It’s how we build fan bases. How are we engaging those people all the time? How are we letting them tell our story?” Steele said.
A way of engaging possible viewers is to reach out in a multitude of ways, using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. When someone Tweets about how they spent an entire day watching “Workaholics,” Comedy Central’s Twitter page will respond to them, getting them to become an active participant.
Steele gave an example of a “South Park” episode which poked fun at the Washington Redskin’s name. The old way Comedy Central may have advertised the episode would have been to stream it during an NFL game across the country. Instead, they sold the advertisement to one station in Washington DC. The ad ran one time on that station for a small number of people. Comedy Central also posted the video on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Advertising online cost them nothing compared to what the slot could have cost them if they ran it nationally. “We took this one asset that could have been seen by 230,000 people and had it seen by millions of people to market the show,” Steele said.
He talked about why the talk was called “Marketing with Millennials” and how the with was purposeful. He said, “I’m not marketing to you, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m part of this with you. That’s how people want to be treated.”
This generation grew up differently than Steele did. The introduction of the Nintendo DS brought about the concept of entertainment constantly, which Steele noted that Comedy Central is mindful of.
Marketing is also focused on a lot of a data. When you see ads on websites often it’s not by mistake. Now it’s easy to market directly to a consumer because of the ability to track purchases and advertise similar products.
“We know when you like stuff, where you like it, the type of device you used, when you’re using things. All things that make it easier to have a relationship with you,” Steele said.
Marketing has evolved from the time that Steele was a student at WC, and now has become an expansive “content experience” with which the marketer is trying to grasp the viewer.