It’s time to break old marketing habits and embrace new methods of engagement.
Hands up who has read a 2015 predictions article, in the last week? Yep, I thought so – almost everybody. In this post, we might refer to one or two trends but in general we will discuss what we’ve learnt from our own marketing interactions, in the last year.
Heading into 2015, marketing has become a key word again because, as a business discipline, it appears to be finally moving out from its perceived buzz-word shackles. As we move into a new year and the tsunami of new technologies, channels and platforms continue to wash over us, the ability of marketing to tell a brand’s story, in an engaging way, is becoming even more important to business growth.
Why is this important? Because, in general, people won’t put up with any brand communication that wastes their time anymore. There are a lot more pressing factors in people’s lives nowadays and brands need to be able to empathise and understand this environment. As mentioned in previous posts to this blog, companies that treat people as humans, with honesty and relevancy, will come out tops. Organisations need to focus on empowering people with a little more control over their lives.
Marketing’s time in the sun.
It is being said, with more frequency, that customer experience is the new source of differentiation for businesses. We agree and believe that this will only intensify over the coming years. How brands analyse and use customer data correctly, and not just pay lip service to it, will determine if they get a return on their investment (ROI) in data analytics. Marketing activity is central to realising this ROI.
I suppose you cannot talk about customer experience without mentioning, ‘digital’. The challenge for brands is to integrate responsibility for all customer touch points, during their purchase journey, under the one umbrella. To us, it makes sense that it is a marketing umbrella that’s used. More importantly, and probably controversially, a marketing strategy should include all customer-facing technology as well. Those internal silos need to be broken down, as nobody knows customers better than the marketing team.
One of the biggest challenges facing the marketing function is to be more disruptive (in a constructive sense), internally. For many years ‘marketers’, myself included, simply implemented campaigns (advertising, sponsorship, CSR etc.) rather than investigating some form of ongoing innovation. With the marketing team’s new ‘time in the sun’ it needs to stand up and lead the revolution towards putting the customer at the centre of all business operations. The secret of marketing is to understand the psychology of your audience.
Marketing can play a key role in the growth of a business because it is the motivating factor for new customers – for example:
- Getting people’s attention and interest
- Getting them to buy your service instead of a competitor’s offering
- Making them loyal and to become brand advocates
Is listening the new marketing trend for 2015?
As is said by many, brands need to be smarter about their marketing and evolve it, because their audiences are more knowledgeable and in control than ever before. Here are a few areas where a marketer can focus on, in the coming year.
- Personalisation – people will accept information that is relevant to them personally
- User experience – know how and where a prospect gathers information, and their influences
- Communities – think of each relevant community member as a potential brand advocate
- Advocates – personal engagement with influencers, will create a WOM ripple effect
- Storytelling – People like and remember stories – make yours a compelling one
So, how do we go about dealing with these five customer-focused areas? Simple – use the three ‘Ls’ – listen, listen and listen. You will only understand this if you accept the notion that your customer expects a customised experience. They do because it is being fuelled by digital, mobile and a resultant sense of empowerment.
When planning ahead, that old marketing chestnut of ‘awareness’ must be taken as a given rather than a focus and thereby modern vanity metrics should become less of a distraction. If real brand engagement is to match customer’s expectations you will need to know, in real time, what those expectations are. Therefore, we need to listen more.
Tips and Timesavers.
Let’s be honest, running a business can follow a fairly simple model. Make / provide something that people want and tell them about it. Thereafter, your satisfied customers tell other people about it and eventually a loyal community is developed. If it is that easy then why isn’t everyone successful in business? Because, it is still, all about the brand and the skill that is required to develop a powerful one.
Increasingly, you must be a thought leader in your business category so as to differentiate your brand. In this regard, and looking ahead to 2015, we would suggest that brands:
- Get emotional – use the emotional values in your business category for positioning
- Be authentic – your brand story must reflect the category’s realities by being ‘believable’
- Be relevant – there is no point in using many online sources unless they’re engaging
- Be brave – people expect you to be using technology to customise their experience
- Be conscious of privacy – people will expect greater security in relation to their data
- Outsource – use the expertise of others to make yourself a thought leader
Of course, there is not much new in what we are suggesting above but, as a wise person once said, ‘if you want to do something new, you must stop doing something old’.
We don’t like finishing on a negative note, but it is worth mentioning a few business pitfalls to avoid in 2015 and beyond.
Don’t think that you know everything about your business category or that the bit you do know is still true. There is also a danger that you might believe that whatever has made you successful to date, will continue. It helps to look outside your own category of business. The two obvious lessons to be learned, from recent years, are thinking that a) your next big competitor will come from within your industry and b) there is no need to be online because, it doesn’t apply to your industry.
“Aidan and myself wish you a brand engaging, technology-embracing, profit making and smarter outsourcing 2015.”
“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.
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