Today’s marketing environment is noisy and hectic. It’s like being in a crowded ballroom where everyone is screaming at the same time.
The good news is that we have many new techniques and tools available to promote our products and services. The bad news is that chaos and disorder are getting worse as more and more organizations use these tools.
How do you mainly hear the sound?
Follow these 3 main steps:
1. The timeless truths of marketing haven’t changed over the centuries
Although marketing has evolved over the past decade, the fundamentals of marketing – what I call “dynamic market leverage” – haven’t changed in hundreds of years:
- Strategy: Start with a business strategy that effectively addresses customer, market, technology, and company needs.
- Products and services: present a quality offer that better meets the customer’s needs (reported and unexplained) than the available alternatives.
- Customers: Understand as much as possible about your prospects and customers: who they are, what they need and want, and how you can improve your fitness.
- Market analysis: Understand the market you compete in, including as much as possible about the industry and competitors.
- Brand: Build a strong brand and reputation in the minds of all key audiences: customers, partners, employees, shareholders, local community, and others.
- Communication: Effectively communicate the value you deliver to generate demand.
- Sales channels: provide the right tools to help those who sell and recommend your product succeed.
- Operations: Deliver, track and analyze your marketing efforts to understand what’s working and where changes need to be made.
These were the secrets of marketing, from the days when farmers gathered in a square to today’s global online marketplace. Marketers ignore them at their peril.
2. But we live in a world of new digital realities
While the eight dynamic market levers are timeless, the way they are applied in today’s world has changed drastically in four main ways:
- Delivery: We can develop and deliver products and services that were unknown until a few years ago. From keyboard lessons via Skype to a service that uses your smartphone’s GPS to find you and park your car in crowded cities, marketers can now offer personalized services easily and cost-effectively.
- Data: More data has been produced in recent years than in the entire history of the world, and we are just beginning. The Internet of Things (IoT) will generate even more data. The question is how all this data can be used without disturbing consumers, which can irritate the increasingly intrusive marketing messages on your Apple Watch and other wearables, your refrigerators, and your in-car information systems.
- Demand generation: We have the technology to adapt marketing campaigns to the needs of customers and potential customers. (However, many marketers are still unable to effectively integrate their multiple data sources and demand generation systems.)
- Motivators: Customers determine how they interact with a brand, just like the brand owner. So rather than insisting that things be done your way, marketers need to find every customer or prospect wherever they want.
In today’s digital world, conversations, content, and communities become even more important:
- Customer interactions should be two-way conversations, not one-sided monologues.
- In a world where so much information is freely available on the web, rather than communicating in a sales mode, marketers need to ensure they deliver valuable content that customers can access and digest.
- And they need to engage the public with the communities they encounter naturally, online and offline.
3. Momentum factors can make or break a marketing team
Even some of the most creative marketing efforts can fail because of an organization’s internal noise, which I call static.
Static is the distraction that keeps marketers from getting their message across clearly to the outside world. That’s what happens when we go out. This often means that senior marketing leaders haven’t paid enough attention to these five factors:
- Organizational commitment: The senior management team must understand the value of effective marketing. Marketers have long struggled to find a place at the table where strategic decisions are made. Working within the organization is vital to building credibility and ensuring that marketing is seen as an investment, not a cost.
- Resources: No one always gets the budget they want for marketing, but there is a minimum threshold that must be funded for success. Major marketing efforts fail if the available resources are insufficient.
- People: Yes, marketing leaders need to appropriately reward and recognize people on their marketing team, but they also need to ensure that they will develop the right skills and competencies for the future.
- Technology: The latest marketing technology systems have incredibly rich levels of functionality. Unfortunately, most organizations will likely only use a small fraction of these resources. Adopting technology should be like Goldilocks eating porridge: not too little, not too much, okay.
- Environment: Markets that once seemed mature and even boring have been turned upside down by market disruptions such as Uber and Airbnb. Marketers should be asking themselves whether they’d rather be the disruptor or the ground troops who come in and clean up after the disruptor causes a stir. Make sure you don’t cause collateral damage after the nuisance hits the market.
Following these 3 steps will help you to hear above the noise and gain marketing dominance in your organization.