However a recent article entitled “Communication is a path not an event” reminded me of how much marketing has changed. Why consumers are turning off to the big sales pitch and ‘broadcast marketing’ methods. They may want to continue talking to us if the product/service being offered appears a fit, but often on their terms and timeframes.
Campaigns are a short term option
Yet today when you talk to those in the marketing and agency world the talk is always about the ‘next campaign’. i.e. A one-time effort to promote a new service or product on behalf of a client. The thing that always troubles me is that most advertising appears to start on the basis of making a sale as soon as possible, not specifically creating a conversation, generating interest or segmentation work. Any long term objective is just around promoting ‘the brand’ and maintaining ‘awareness’. Yeah, right…
Like most big company promotions, the focus is always on how quickly we can get people to do something. Theory goes that more innovative the campaign, being the message and graphics, the quicker things happen. The sale is the ultimate and only outcome. Admirable. But in many cases we will trade off long term sales and business stability, for short term outcomes. One could argue that for many low cost consumer items no ‘conversation’ is really needed beyond ‘the stunning offer’. Those ‘daily offers’ websites are examples.
But for most higher-priced items this is seldom a good business strategy – Not all potential buyers are ready to buy based around the suppliers conditions or timeframes, hence we need systems in place that automatically tracks and responds to client engagement, whether it occurs a week, month or year after the initial campaign. Successful information marketers are good at this sort of stuff, so why not retailers or services providers? The technology involved is relatively inexpensive now.
The Followup – Let’s talk
Seth has mentioned all this more than once. The dire need for a lead capture and followup systems following any presentation or promotion, regardless of media channel. We all know how hard it is to get people to make a quick decision and have to engage with them on a longer term basis. To become a long term client, not just the guy/girl going for that below cost offer and disappear forever.
Managing and segmenting customers is an area most traditional campaigns ignore. A sale is a sale. The economics or client relationship is largely irrelevant. This was clearly shown when we examined and took part in numerous mobile and online campaigns last year that made an attempt to connect and gather consumer details. Of dozens entered via online or via text messaging, to date none have ever got back to me beyond the immediate campaign on the day of entry. Again, proving it was all about the campaign, not about building up any longer term relationship or sales opportunity down the track. As a person, I was only important to them on the day. There’s no followup or qualifying process here that digital marketing allows.
Marketing is a journey, not a destination [or a campaign]
It’s quite stupid really, yet from a creative and even corporate viewpoint I can see why it happens. Focus is always on the short term problem. Getting people (and sales) over the line for this week, month or quarter. What happens next year or with the buyer is largely irrelevant. Engaging with existing clients in a meaningful way, even utilising data on their past buying habits is seldom done. (Meaningful data analysis is not yet part of the ad agency scene. Only a handful of direct or digital marketers here do it). Yet in this modern digital realm, this is not overly difficult. Just takes good planning and patience – Something too many business owners and agenices lack…
Data-driven marketing – It’s not new
The concepts Seth introduced us to around building communities and making marketing more relevant have been put into practice by many worldwide. But 100% personalisation is the next step and more difficult. Researchers Don and Martha Peppers introduced one to one marketing back in 1993 when implementation was still difficult, unlike today…
Unfortunately really successful practitioners with a good understanding of the role of data in marketing is rare. Two people I follow include the little-known Israeli Rafi Albo of Segmarketing who has been using data in one-to-one direct mailing campaigns for a decade, and Brian Eisenberg (right), helping online stores in the US. Both can tell of success stories that defy belief, including response rates (people buying) of 10-25%, not the 0-2% industry achieves today.
The trick though is identifying the markets and products where this works best. As Rafi once told me, there needs to be an emotional trigger. Women’s and children’s fashion are always great markets, because of the strong emotional element in the purchase decision, unlike buying pizza or our weekly groceries from the local supermarket. Certainly the ad agencies know all about this, they just lack the needed data and processes to target and personalise the experience that could give their clients a massive sales boost. We seem content with a modest 5-10% sales increase when the best that truly connect with their customers are getting 30% year on year.
What’s your end game? To steadily grow your business with a loyal customer base you understand, or just more sales this month?