Over the past month I’ve read marketing forecasts, predictions, and recommendations from nearly 100 analysts, pundits, and practitioners about what to expect in the New Year. A few were fairly, well, predictable. Others were pleasantly surprising. Here are excerpts from two of my favorites:
“In 2015 the art and science of marketing will be rebalanced, restoring humanity to this storied craft.” –Darren Guarnaccia, Chief Strategy Officer, Sitecore
“Marketers need to dedicate the same amount of energy spent on being clever to providing the consumer a benefit, a reason to care about your brand, a reason to choose you over the other guy. That’s what builds brand loyalty, that’s what keeps them coming back over and over again.” –Sandy Rubinstein, CEO, DXagency
Guarnaccia and Rubinstein aren’t alone in their views that it’s time to cut through the complexities in markeing and get real with customers. Based on the myriad insights from the many experts whose advice and opinions I’ve been privy to, here are some customer-centric do’s and don’ts for marketing in 2015.
Put the customer at the heart of your marketing strategy. From customer listening to personas to journey mapping, there are many ways to learn customers’ expectations, needs, and preferences, and then use that information to guide decision making.
Be contextually relevant. One form of “personalization” growing in popularity is context: What is the customer doing, why, when, where, and on what device? Targeting communications based on some or all of that criteria can be incredibly effective in driving response.
Ask for the sale. Hey, you’re direct marketers, after all. But, today, the “sale” might be a recommendation, registration, or share. Engaged customers and interested prospects may be more likely than you think to comply. And as my mother always says, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Welcome feedback—and use it. Many of the customers who provide feedback, even negative feedback, give it because they have a vested interest in your success. OK, sure, some folks are curmudgeonly no matter what. Put those people aside and the insight you can gain from customers’ input can be invaluable. Is it really one vocal person complaining, or is there a trend brewing? Is that customer’s idea something that can benefit other customers? Take time to listen, learn, and act.
Be unsocial. If you’re going to post to social media, have a response plan—one that scales. Clearly, it’s impossible to reply to every post or comment, nor do you want to. But you can have guidelines that make responding more doable on a broader scale.
Give up on mature channels. Direct mail and direct response TV are both experiencing a bit of a resurgence—in some cases among unexpected users. In the case of direct mail, some e-tailers are embracing catalogs. As for direct response, there are big CPG brands adopting short-form DRTV. Their successes lie not only in the benefits of those long-proven channels, but also in integrating them with newer digital channels.