The fundamental concepts of marketing have been around since the beginning of civilization but took off greatly with the rise of commerce, trade and communication. The higher end stores of London, Paris and New York started to put greater thought into who their customers were and how to attract them. At its core marketing is about reaching the right people and defining their perception of your usefulness and value.
The marketers job is to create an image of why the consumer should hire a product to do a task they require. The advent of radio and then television led to an explosion of advertising. These messages sought to create a need for a product or try and differentiate one over the other. Fast forward to today and much has changed. People are deluged to upwards of 5,000 marketing messages per day: banner ads, television commercials, signs, mail – it’s everywhere. Attention spans are a small fraction of what they used to be as this represents a 10 fold increase from just four decades ago and our brain is very adept and ignoring most of it. In order to get through all the noise modern marketers must adapt.
In television the rise of products like Tivo created disruption across the board and forced marketers to change their tact. What used to be boring marketing messages became entertainment. Survey data from Nielsen shows that humor is the most effective medium for grabbing our attention and being remembered. Watch any commercial break and chances are you will see multiple messages containing humor. This entertaining message gives a corporation personality, makes them seem more likable and is more likely to stick around in the mind of a consumer .
The rise of social media has given today’s marketer tools that never existed before, the ability to have a direct conversation with your customers. Social media does not exist to hawk products endlessly but rather to engage your customers. To learn from them and to educate them to your offerings, their benefits and represent your brand and create competitive separation.
The Customer Is Still Always Right.
In today’s hyper-competitive economy it’s extremely important to know your customer; their needs, their frustrations. Competitors that are agile and know better than you about your customers will be the market leader a couple years down the road. You can not influence who you do not understand, so marketers need to be extremely adept on analyzing, listening and engaging.
The Tools of Today
Most experienced marketers will tell you that SEO, optimization and email marketing will give you the best return on your investment. Core to each of these is using the understanding you have of your customer. For SEO that is looking through thousands of keywords to see what they are searching for. For optimization it’s studying user behavior with Google Analytics and services like Lucky Orange that give you recorded sessions and heat maps. This allows you to create conversion tests that are likely to succeed and also to create emails with messaging that is more likely to appeal to the recipient.
Don’t Sale – Be The Educator
What if you saw a sign that advertised a “premium” motel? If you’re like most people you would mentally ascribe the word premium as having no meaning – it’s marketing speak. In fact many of the worst motels or products use words like “premium” and “quality”. Now what if you instead saw that a motel said it was a TripAdvisor award winner? Or what if a product instead of saying quality said Made In The USA? These are facts, quantifiable statements that people can draw conclusions from and actually have influence on their decisions. They accomplish what the marketing language was trying and failing to imprint. Here’s some more examples:
Marketing: All natural.
Fact: Free range, raised on a family farm.
Marketing: Smooth ride vehicle.
Fact: Carbon fiber struts, top marks from Consumer Reports for comfort.
Marketing: The world’s friendliest airline.
Fact: Chosen for four years in a row in a Forbes readers poll as the friendliest airline.
Marketers must inspire and give people something to aspire to. When you think GoPro, Nike or owning a Gucci there is an association with the kind of person owning those is. It’s both aspirational and promotes a sense of belonging. When you visit the GoPro Facebook you see hundreds of videos of adventure seekers showing off the product in action. Ask yourself what does it mean for the kind of person I am if I own (insert any product here).
The greatest marketing tool isn’t a piece of software or ad platform but rather your ability to truly understand why your customer hires your product or service. There are many ways you can do this: with an IdeaLab, with surveys, social media, forums, focus groups, analytics & purchase data; no single way will completely provide a total picture. It’s the marketers job to put this information together and use that to guide not just marketing strategy but to be the voice of the customer for sales and new products.
The mind of a consumer considers email, direct mail and advertising as spam unless it’s relevant to an actual need in that very specific moment. Personalization is an extension of knowing your customer and using the data to tailor the message specifically to them. Manifestations of this include remarketing, segmented and behavioral email marketing and targeted social media. We will describe how each of these work below.
Instead of showing millions of banner ad impressions to people who most likely do not have a pressing need, remarketing targets those who were actually on your website researching. You can serve specific ads based on the products they were looking at or based on e-commerce behaviors like abandoning a cart or having made a recent purchase.
Services like Vero, Mailchimp and Emma allow you to use a tracking code and segment your list. For instance if I own a fashion company and someone browses for dresses, they can automatically be segmented into a special list for dresses. They get emails that are relevant to them and are much more likely to both open it and click-thru (generally 10% to upwards of 30% increase). Would you want to send an email about dresses to a male executive who just likes your suits? One size fits all is one size fits none.
Larger Facebook pages have a much ignored ability to target every one of their posts based on demographics, language, location or interest. For instance if the page for MTV wanted to share a post about a rap band, they could target it so only fans of rap would receive it instead of annoying those who don’t like rap. It not only makes their fans happier and provides better relevancy but we’ve seen instances where both reach and engagement are higher because of narrowing the target. This would seem counter-intuitive as there is less of a potential audience who could see it but part of the Facebook algorithm looks at how well the selected audience is responding and either throttles or hits the brakes.
The new age of marketing has created a lot of opportunities for those people who posses digital skills combined with an understanding of the science of marketing. In fact, digital marketing managers are one of the hottest jobs on the market right now as companies scramble to keep up with the changing field of play.