In today’s world, marketing is often far too focused on product, sales, promotion and media, while ignoring the needs of the consumer.
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How to modernise your marketing operations for higher ROI
It’s time for the traditional saying that ‘the customer is always right’ to be done away with. In today’s data-powered world, it should read: ‘the customer experience always needs to be right’.
Consumer demands for experience is the most important factor in the success of a business. However, conventional marketing tactics don’t provide marketers with the tools to consistently produce the experience or solutions that customers seek. In order to keep up, marketers need to change their approach.
Doing this requires adopting a multifaceted mindset that takes customer worries, frustrations, preferences and expectations into account. The most crucial aspect of this is shifting from a wholly technology-centric way of thinking to one that embraces change, and positively influences consumer habits.
Bedrocks of traditional marketing are outdated
There is a tendency for marketers to be locked into marketing ideas that worked in the past. While understandable, this fails to recognise the reality of today’s data-driven world where the primary focus should be on the consumer. As Laurie Buczek, former global director of customer experience at Intel, puts it:
”‘Measuring marketing success by numbers of eyeballs worked 10 years ago, but those measurements are not good enough to understand if you’re delivering on the customers’ expectations, which have changed.’
As customer expectations change, surface-level data is unable to help marketers understand the why behind any interaction. Taking Buczek’s example, the number of views on your web page means very little beyond the fact you’ve had visitors. It doesn’t tell you anything about what they are thinking or feeling, or their motivations.
Above all, consumers want their problems solved, and they simply don’t care how it is done. The bells and whistles mean very little if they don’t serve a purpose. As a recent Forrester report says, ‘Funnel-centric thinking results in marketing communications and sales interactions focused on features and functions, not on how to solve issues buyers face and deliver the outcomes they want for their business.’
Be what your customers want you to be
In today’s world, marketing is often far too focused on product, sales, promotion and media, while ignoring the needs of the consumer. To combat this, the same Forrester report outlines three rules that innovative marketers must adopt (see Figure 2).
- Rule One: Be human.
Customers may want the convenience of modern technology, but they will always crave the personal touch. By ensuring a human component remains in your marketing practice, you will be better able to build relationships and drive loyalty.
- Rule Two: Be helpful.
Truly understand the consumers’ wants and needs to provide a product or service that genuinely solves their problems. Beyond focusing on basic consumer facts, you need to understand what is driving purchase patterns.
- Rule Three: Be handy.
Provide a seamless customer experience by creating a business that can work collaboratively across channels, from website to phone call to messaging to app. As VML’s Chief Strategy Officer, Amy Winger suggests: ‘If I were CMO, I would set up always-on performance goals, make sure our brand is strong, then riff on culture all the time. That would strip out an entire layer of campaign planning.’
As a recent Forrester report says, ‘Funnel-centric thinking results in marketing communications and sales interactions focused on features and functions, not on how to solve issues buyers face and deliver the outcomes they want for their business.’
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Knowing what your customers want is only the tip of the iceberg, as consumer expectations have evolved to such an extent that implementation is a genuine challenge. It isn’t as simple as installing new software or putting data to a more strategic use. These are undoubtedly all part of the process, but first marketers need to undergo an entire mindset shift.
Forrester takes an interesting approach in describing this. They say that:
”...marketers must understand how to bring to the ‘surface the unstated assumptions that shape their [the customers’] decisions.’
There is a three-step process to help develop this new outlook.
Step 1: Practice empathy to understand and connect with people.
Marketers must think like consumers. Conventional marketing is now considered an annoyance and innovative marketers must find ways to deliver experiences that are worth consumers’ time. Achieving this involves adding emotion back into the equation, which can account to up to 50% of ‘brand energy’ – the method Forrester devised to measure a brand’s positioning to stimulate desired customer behaviours.
To do this, marketers should first reduce interdepartmental siloing to gain insight on customer decisions from the sales team. However, true insights come from firsthand experience. Marketers need to experience the emotion (or lack thereof) themselves by taking the role of a customer and discovering what the entire experience is like from their perspective.
Step 2: Develop useful experiences that provide customer value.
Across all businesses, consumers desire an experience with minimal decision-stress and plenty of positive customer service interactions. Based on insights from step one, marketers are in a better position to study consumer habits and identify the aspects that lead to sales, or the pain points that encourage dropout or churn.
Be prepared to take risks with this approach by designing new campaigns and launching new strategies.
Step 3: Take an agile, lean approach to get things done.
In order to become the handy marketer that consumers seek, focus on strong customer interactions that provide positive experiences – something that will involve embracing new mindsets that may require different approaches. Above all, remember that this is a journey of discovery. You are likely to make mistakes, but by learning from them and using them to grow, you can gain customer trust and respect through humility.
Integrating this drastic mindset shift in your business’s marketing will, of course, require time and patience. However, by focusing on customer problems and solutions, creating a space that fosters learning and becoming ‘human, helpful and handy’, marketers can fully update their marketing approach to provide that all-important customer experience.
Using its 15 years of experience as CRM experts, redk supports companies looking to enhance efficiency and profitability through world-class technology and best practices that optimise performance across organisations whilst driving value through better customer experiences.
CRM Transformation Practice at redk
Hideki applies over 15 years of experience in the field of CRM and Customer Experience to overcome business challenges in the customer cycle.