If you read the leader in Marketing Week from October 21 2010, you’ll see Mark Choueke outlining what he sees marketers will have to do in order to stay afloat in the current, economically-banjaxed, times. I have to say that I disagree, at least in part.
Mark’s premise is that we have to show that we’re comfortable with the emerging technologies that allow increasingly tailored marketing, on top of customers’ needs and are able to do more with less.
Point 1) Let’s not be too comfortable with emerging technologies. I’m comfortable in an old pair of jeans and T-shirt. Which doesn’t give me an edge, anywhere. If you’re comfortable with something, will you continue to try to push it as far as it will go?
By all means be able to make the technologies work. Be confident that you can hit the buttons in the right order to get the required outcome. But don’t be comfortable – if you’re comfortable, you’re probably not going to push the system until it breaks just because you want to know if it can do something new. You’re not going to explore the furthest regions of possibility – because to do so will make you uncomfortable, and why would you choose that if you’re comfortable?
In my opinion, for what it’s worth, brands are getting far too comfortable with things like Facebook. Yes, it’s there and you’ve got a quadrillion fans, or likes, or whatever – but is this actually adding value to your business – or have those people simply clicked on a button and then forgotten all about you?
The fact that it’s there seems to be the answer to all problems – it really isn’t (sorry). It’s a tool like everything else. But businesses are comfortable in the space, which probably stops them using it to the ultimate best of its ability. But then why do anything else, if you’re comfortable?
Point 2) Yes, we need to be on top of our customers’ needs. If they need to talk to us at 3am, how should we facilitate this? If they need the product in green rather than white, let’s do it. If they need to get information via a specific channel, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t go there.
But needs are retrospective. You don’t need something until you know a) that you’re missing something and b) that you know what you need.
If you don’t realise that you’re missing something, you’ll never need it. And you’ll never want it either.
So we need to be in front of our customers’ needs. And by being so, we’ll be surprising. We’ll be able to say that we’ve genuinely given them something that they weren’t expecting. And we’ll be able to give great customer service too. Don’t wait for them to tell you want they want – anticipate it and surprise them with it. Make it a gift, in fact.
And to do that, we have to understand our customers much better. We need to make a real connection there. We need to change the way that we do business with them.
Point 3) Doing more with less. No. Categorically no.
We do not need to do more with less. If there’s something that will kill off the marketing profession, it’s exactly that. Doing more. If we’re in the brown-stuff now, doing more won’t help. It really, really, won’t.
Look at it this way: if you’ve just launched a campaign which isn’t getting the required audience reaction, what do you do? Do you:
a) Leave it as it is and hope that it will get better?
b) Buy more and more media space until the consumer has your messaging indelibly printed on their brains, but keep your message the same?
c) Go back to first principles and work out if the problem is in your media quantity, placement or the actual message itself?
What we need to do is achieve more with less. In other words, we need to be better than we are.
Marketing needs to evolve (back on that soapbox again) – and what we don’t need is more. We need better. More will be the dilution of something that could be genuinely great. More will be the destruction of our industry. More will be more money spent on billboards and less on the creative.
Better, on the other hand, is a game changer. Better will allow the face of marketing to change, to evolve into what it needs to be.
So: let’s be better. Let’s get uncomfortable. Let’s get in front. It’s the only way that we’ll survive…