By Bradley Foster, Published October 25, 2014
While perusing the latest opinions from fellow industry professionals, as I often do, I came across a particularly interesting and pertinent article by Michael Lazerow. In it, Michael states “The future of marketing is, quite simply, the process of mapping and optimizing journeys for customers.” While this isn’t a new concept, it’s one worth reiterating – it’s just not as easy as it use to be. As the media landscape has fragmented we’ve seen a broader displacement of demographics, no longer concentrated in 3, 4, or even 5 silos.
More than the upheaval in the communications landscape, the single most critical change is the shift in power.
More than the upheaval in the communications landscape, the single most critical change is the shift in power. Customers are empowered now more than ever. They are equipped with instant access to inbound searchable data and can disseminate communications about your product and brand at lightning speed. Just like any scenario where the tables get turned, immediately after the shift in continuum, there’s fear. To amplify these fears now we have a generation of consumers consciously avoiding companies “selling” to them – see millennials. As Michael notes, the pivot that marketing professionals currently face is hard, cautioning it’s not going to happen slowly and isn’t something you can ease into. It’s happening at an unprecedented pace with or without you. Marketers need to implement actionable solutions to these marketing challenges because consumers are not waiting around for you to get up to speed, they’re willing to go other places and spend their money.
Consumers are not waiting around for you to get up to speed, they’re willing to go other places and spend their money.
Fundamentally, Michael provides a simple framework for the reader with four questions that he elaborates on. They’re definitely relevant, but only part of the story. To me that’s just it; marketing professionals are struggling to stay on top and in my opinion, a lot are completely missing the mark by trying to solve complex business challenges with band aid solutions and better ad campaigns – repeating the unsustainable subjective cycle. Most of the time it’s not clever advertising that will fix or turn around a situation, but rather a company’s willingness to lift up the hood and take a holistic look at how each business unit is or isn’t helping the marketing team succeed. Even the bravest marketing leaders need guidance and support but sadly, most marketers and their partners just aren’t equipped. How many CMO’s do you think meet with HR to strategize ways to indoctrinate employees? How many CMO’s do you think would fund these programs with the marketing budget? Here’s why I ask, what does it matter if you achieve a million views and 10K likes but at the point of sale, the front line staff of your brick and mortar care about the weekend than the products you deal in. To the people that really matter, the customer, you’ve failed.
“Are you really listening to your current customers?”
While Michael does an excellent job of highlighting the changing landscape he fails to touch upon engagement, the ever important yet notoriously difficult to master concept. Engagement is the one thing, now more than ever, marketers need to get better at – fast. They need to find ways to really hear what their customers are saying.
There are oceans of stories for missed opportunities, but this one from Jeffrey Hayzlett, as written by Thomas White, is a good one because it really speaks to how obvious it can be sometimes. In it, he talks about his now strained, relationship with Delta Airlines. The core of story revolves around ‘data’ but the critical point is intelligence, or lack there of. You see, Jeffrey was a committed Delta frequent flyer for years and then something happened and that relationship ended. Jeffrey stopped flying Delta, and Delta didn’t do anything, months passed and Jeffrey hadn’t booked a flight, shouldn’t this raise a red flag at Delta? I mean really, I can almost guarantee Delta, just like everyone else, had the data to identify this – but they didn’t. In a time where there are too many choices and too little time the brands that will dominate are the ones that win devotion. Engaged customers are devoted ones. So, how engaged are you with your customers?
If you’re unsure or struggling to answer that with confidence, we’re here to help.