As marketing leaders are preparing for the new year, I asked a variety of leaders to provide advice. Below are a few of the best tips that span innovation, data management, consumer insight, and social media.
Tip #1: Innovation – “Marketers need a Systematic Approach to Innovate New Marketing Channels”
According to Jay Henderson, Director of Strategy, IBM ExperienceOne, new channels continue to multiply like rabbits, with familiar channels, like mobile, breeding new “micro-channels,” (i.e., Vine, pheed, and snapchat). With the growth of smart phones and tablets, there’s no reason to expect the proliferation of channels to slow down – nor is it reasonable to expect success from all of them (remember Second Life?). Marketers need a structured process for assessing opportunities, testing tactics, measuring results and evaluating further involvement. While marketing is great about reserving funding to test new channels, there is a disconnect between funding tests and strategically nurturing new channels. Ultimately, marketers need to shift efforts in emerging channels from ad-hoc and one-off to a strategic and structured process. With social media and mobile, individual channels might come and go; but a solid evaluation process will remain a lasting investment.
Tip #2: Data and Information – “Have better access to information than your competitors”
Robert F. Bruner, Dean of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, suggests that it is imperative for managers who move into environments that are new to embracing marketing (e.g., higher education, professional services) to have access to information that is better than their competitors. Bruner illustrates his thought with a Warren Buffett quote found in a Feb. 29, 1988 Berkshire Hathaway letter in which Buffett personifies competition as “Mr. Market.”
Indeed, if you aren’t certain that you understand and can value your business far better than Mr. Market, you don’t belong in the game. As they say in poker, “If you’ve been in the game 30 minutes and you don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.” Warren Buffett
Tip #3: Consumer Insight – “Look through the Lens of your consumer”
Brent Walker, CMO of C2B Solutions, indicates that all too often, business leadership will assume that consumers think the same way they do, and companies end up marketing to themselves. Marketing leadership needs to reinforce a culture challenging all decisions based on whether they will appeal to the target consumer. However, purchase decisions are more often emotional than rational — this is especially true in healthcare, where even routine decisions subconsciously ladder up to survival. This can be uncomfortable for stakeholders who like clean, logical variables upon which to base strategy. Deep insights into consumer perceptions and motivations are critical for marketers to succeed by meeting the consumer on her terms.
Tip #4: Customer Understanding – “Trust your Data!”
Apu Gupta, the CEO of Curalate, suggests that as a marketer your job is to ensure that your brand stays in contention as consumers move through each stage of the decision making process. The visual web is facilitating this by establishing a direct channel of communication between consumers and brands. At the end of the day, being able to align social interactions with business-wide marketing decisions will enable CMOs to drive awareness and consideration, and therefore, traffic and revenue. But you have to use and trust the data that you have.
Tip #5: Social: “Buy fewer Ads and Create more Conversation”
Marco Hansell, CEO of Speakr indicates that you don’t have to look much further than Facebook CTR’s to understand this. An average CTR of 0.04% on Facebook display ads means that 99.96% of the users on Facebook are ignoring them. What are nearly 100% of Facebook’s users doing? They are interacting with their friends. If brands can find ways to empower their advocates and influencers to spread the brand message, than they are exponentially increasing the chances of reaching their customer at a much higher rate. Make sure this approach is a BIG part of your marketing strategy in 2015 and not just your incremental budget. If you pump real money into an influencer or advocate strategy and deliver scale you will be surprised at how quickly the ROI can crush alternative spends in social.
Bonus Tip: Data Insight: “Start Analyzing Anonymous Consumer Behavior”
Jay Marwaha, CEO of SYNTASA indicates that analyzing anonymous consumer behavior is the next frontier for marketers. Consumer online behavior is not something most companies analyze. Marketers spend a lot getting consumers to their site and when they arrive, brands fail to analyze their behavior, making it difficult to create superior experiences for these “anonymous” consumers. By using online consumer behavior analysis to influence consumers throughout each stage of the funnel, especially by converting unknown to known consumers, marketers can achieve better success. SYNTASA has seen 50% or higher lift in conversions when using the right personalization techniques at each stage of the funnel.
Bonus Tip: Presentations: “Professional Powerpoint Presentations can Make the Difference between a Sale or Fail”
Derrick Waylen, the Founder / Director for Right Aligned, a professional presentation creation company, suggests that in an environment where firms have reduced support for the development of sales and marketing presentations, the business case for a presentation system has become compelling. Some companies use outsourced firms, such as Right Aligned, to create professional presentations quickly. Other firms purchase a system, such as Empower, that employees can use to quickly and easily update slides. Such systems include the ability to distribute and automatically update best-in-class slides and presentations direct to the sales force whether they are offline or online. Regardless of whether marketers insource or outsource, focusing on developing best-in-class presentations can make the difference between a successful sale or an abysmal failure.
Do you have any hot tips for marketers? Join the discussion on Twitter: @KimWhitler #2015mktgtips
Originally published on Dec 16, 2014 3:45 PM, updated Feb 10, 2016