Chandar Pattabhiram is so passionate about customer-centric marketing that he’s launched a thought leadership agenda proclaiming the death of mass advertising. “Mass advertising is a frog in hot water,” says Pattabhiram, VP, product and corporate marketing at Marketo, “but just doesn’t know it yet.”
Pattabhiram likens this approach, and the disconnected marketing campaigns that often go along with it, to “random acts of marketing”—a strategy that’s not sustainable in the current environment of ever-increasing customer expectations and competitive pressures. His advice to marketers is to adopt a more holistic, customer-centric approach: optichannel engagement marketing. He calls this B2H marketing; business-to-human marketing, that is. “Customers can cut the cord anytime because there’s so much choice,” Pattabhiram says. “Marketers have to engage people as individuals. So, marketing should be B2H, not B2B or B2C. Listening and responding to customers; that’s what will cut through the noise.”
One aspect of listening and responding is the “optichannel” element of Pattabhiram’s style of B2H marketing. Instead of omnichannel, which can be marketing-centric (and overkill), he recommends the more customer-centric optichannel approach: Engaging customers everywhere they are based on their preferences. “Everyone has several channels they prefer,” he says. “Rather than treating [each channel] as a separate swim lane, connect them. Ask yourself, ‘How do I listen in one channel and engage in others in a connected way?’”
Pattabhiram’s advice for a first step in the evolution toward B2H marketing is bridging ad tech and marketing tech. “This should be a love marriage not an arranged marriage,” he says, adding that digital advertising typically gets a 2 to 5% response because ad tech and martech are two swim lanes. “When marketers bring ad tech into the digital marketing journey, digital advertising gets personalized—and performance improves.”
He also emphasizes that collaboration is essential to B2H marketing. “Marketing is a team sport,” Pattabhiram says. “The challenge for a lot of organizations is coordinating their teams.” His advice is to use marketing technology that allows marketers to plan, orchestrate, and “load balance” their campaigns across teams.
Finally, Pattabhiram asserts that it’s time to stop thinking about channels and start thinking in terms of interaction points—especially considering the growth of the Internet of Things. “I don’t say channels,” he says. “With the Internet of Things, and other evolving technologies, marketers can’t look at channels anymore.” Instead, they need to understand the customer journey, and be present at customers’ and prospects’ moments of truth.
“The customer defines the journey,” Pattabhiram cautions. “Not the marketer.”