Always On and Ever Present

“Marketers have to be present everywhere today.”

That assertion, from Andy Main, principal with Deloitte Consulting and U.S. leader of Deloitte Digital, is one of many he made during a lively discussion we had on marketing trends. Main also pointed out that “people want always-on innovation.” As a result, a six- to nine-month strategic planning cycle in marketing is becoming a thing of the past.

How can marketers keep pace with today’s ever-faster rate of change? Managing customer expectations, competitive pressures, and technology advances seems simply exhausting.

Main is a strong advocate of change—and data. In fact, he emphasized the importance of using data to know what to say when to which customers. “Marketers need to think of themselves as chief message officers,” he said. “Marketing is about more than beautiful creative; there has to be brains behind it. That’s where the data and technology come in. We’ve gone past the point of basic demand gen.”

According to Main, embracing change and using data for competitive positioning is more than just the purview of marketers today. “It’s time for companies to rethink their business models,” he said. “They should look to create a disruptive advantage: How can you Uber the competition before you get Kodaked? Business leaders need to constantly rethink the business they’re in.”

Main recommended that senior executives create an “edge” business and then bring that into their core operations. But, to do so, they need to think not only about what their disruptive advantage could be, but also what their future should be as a result, and then how to reorganize to support any changes needed to create and deliver on that disruptive advantage—change management is essential here, he said. It also means considering what the customer experience will be in that new environment and what marketing technology is needed to support it, Main said.

He also reemphasized the role of data in determining what that disruptive advantage should be and how to best understand customers in relation to it. Indeed, Main pointed out that one significant and growing benefit of the Internet of Things (IoT) is the customer behavior data it provides. Marketers need strategies around IoT and using that data to be on target with the right message at the optimal time, he asserted. Think: prescriptive messaging versus predictive modeling. “Marketers need to unleash data in real time,” he said.

But, he warned, marketers also must remember that, ultimately, business is personal. “The need for the human connection won’t ever change; there are just new and different ways to make those connections,” he said, adding that emotional marketing—listening for customers emotions and responding—is essential today. “You need to build into the customer journey the expectation of customers to hear from you.”

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