Is Your Marketing View Too Narrow?

One aspect of keeping our readers updated on the latest in marketing is attending conferences. Lots of them. And I’ve come away with some terrific advice that I’ve shared over the years. Sometimes, though, I want to stand up and voice my vehement disagreement with a panelist who I think is giving bad advice—usually based on taking a narrow view. This was the case last week at the Customer Engagement World conference.

Here are the myths shared during one panel, and my view of the realities:

Only test new tech tools and toys with millennials. 

First, being a tech-savvy baby boomer I take huge offense to this—as would others like me in that regard. I may not be as adept as using all the cool features of my iPhone as my 17-year-old daughter, but I have my share of devices and apps and I’m likely to purchase everything from groceries to airplane tickets on my smartphone. I know HTML and can create and queue an email campaign with the best of them.

More important, marketers who disregard B2B or B2C purchasers older than millennials could miss potentially significant revenue opportunities if those older customers are within their target audiences. Imagine if online grocers or airlines tested their mobile apps with and recommended them only to millennials. Consider also the vast number of IT leaders who are late 30-somethings and beyond who are, of course, tech savvy. Should they be ignored in favor of millennials? No.

Not surprisingly, this piece of advice was shared by a millennial, who seems to think that us old people simply don’t get technology. Fortunately, there are many millennials leading companies and marketing organizations who don’t share her view.

Be prepared for brick-and-mortar retail locations to be showrooms only. 

This reminds me of conversations I had way back when the personal video camera first lauched. I was a writer at a photo industry publication, so a number of people asked me how long it would be before photography disappeared. Ridiculous. Like radio and TV before them, photography and video would evolve and share the stage, I said. Video would never completely supplant photography.

Similarly, online purchasing will never completely replace retail shopping—at least not in my lifetime. I have to assume that the panelist who said that it would doesn’t like to shop. Clearly, he doesn’t get the social aspect of shopping. He also doesn’t seem to understand three other important aspects of shopping in a physical store: discovery, immediacy, and touch.

Sure, plenty of sites do a great job of making recommendations based on past behaviors, but some people enjoy discovering the new thing they didn’t expect to interest them—and behavior-based recommendations are unlikely to deliver that. Other shoppers may discover that one item is actually a better option than other once they’ve seen it, touched it, tried it—or, believe it or not, had a conversation with a sales associate. And even same-day delivery doesn’t match the satisfaction of leaving a store with the coveted item you’ve just found and purchased.

The reality is that not every person who walks into a Best Buy or Target or wherever does so to research products and then make their purchase on Amazon. Indeed, a friend of mine bought (gasp!) a laptop at Best Buy last month, and I purchased a camera there just before that. And not because either of us needed it the day we bought it. We both enjoyed seeing the various brand and model options laid out in front of us, comparing the physical products, and walking out with our purchases in hand, feeling satisfied with our whole discovery and research experience. Before you say that’s because I’m 51, I’ll point out that when my daughter got her new iPhone last year she didn’t want to order it online; she wanted to go into the store, see the color options in person, and, yes, work with a store associate to ensure that all of her data was tranfered.

So, retailers, please don’t start redesigning all of your stores as showrooms. Plenty of us still love to purchase live and in person. In fact, according to Deloitte, digital is influencing 36% of the more than $3 trillion spent across all categories of in-store retail sales.

The only option for mobile is an app. 

You may agree with this one, but even the person who said this backpeddled later and said, indeed, mobile apps aren’t for every company. But, he said, a mobile-optimized website isn’t enough; if you’re not going to have a killer mobile app be sure that your presence on social is amazing and mobile friendly because that’s where you can best engage with a mobile audience if you lack an app. Interesting opinion, indeed, but certainly not the only one. Taking the broader view, I’ll say: It depends. How you can best engage with your mobile audience depends on who your customers are and what they’re looking for. Perhaps it is social, maybe it’s video, or it might just be a mobile-optimized site, after all.

Finding out the realities before acting on assumptions is what research and testing is all about. And those are two areas savvy direct marketers excel in. Use them, wisely.

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