We need to completely change our marketing philosophy because what used to work in marketing no longer does so. If marketers continue to execute on the same marketing philosophy they had even a year ago, they will be unsuccessful. Instead of adding value to their customer experience, they will actively detract from it.
The standard linear buying cycle — where a customer comes into a marketing funnel and somehow the seller engages with them, then hopefully the buyer comes to one of your events, then they read one of your white papers, then the seller re-engages and they do an RFP — doesn’t work anymore. Those days are over and that process is as dead as the cold call.
It’s time for a marketing revolution; companies need to embrace a new type of modern marketing that’s driven by customer needs. We all need to engage with buyers at the time and via the channel or channels of their choosing, not ours. We can do that by recognizing three major changes that have occurred in the industry and re-invent our marketing accordingly to take full account of those changes.
Adapt to the new buying cycle
Customers are not funnels and they no longer follow a linear approach to buying. Instead, they’re leveraging the access they have to vast amounts of information and making decisions based on the data they’ve uncovered. So, buyers visiting your website have already made up their minds about what (or if) they’re going to buy.
Buyers are no longer coming to your site to research and find out more about you, rather it’s to validate the decision they’ve already made. In most cases, unfortunately, buyers are spending time on your site to validate why they didn’t choose you. They’re gathering data so they can return to their board of directors and executive team and validate their decision for why they already decided to go with another company or service.
The only way out of this dilemma is to rethink that buying cycle and reinvent a completely non-linear buying model. It’s about individualizing the experience and providing content and context for every single person in your company that gets the opportunity and the privilege to engage with that unique buyer. You need to know implicitly what that individual buyer is doing and exactly how they want to engage – whether that’s by chat, a phone call, email or an on-site visit. Internally, you need to align and blur the lines between the classic silos of marketers, sellers and customer care support people. The sole intention should be to improve and individualize that new buying model. If you don’t do so, you will fail.
Reimagine traditional and digital marketing tactics
All of your tactics are useless. Every single thing you’ve done as a marketer will no longer work. There isn’t just a disruption taking place in digital business, there is disruption in every business, and marketing has to follow suit. I think good marketers with the new customer-centric philosophy will admit that none of their tactics really work well or, if they have to, they’ll admit that some of their tactics work well, but they don’t know why and they don’t know exactly which ones are working. That lack of knowledge and insight is not acceptable in a new, modern marketing organization.
If you assume that customers are mostly coming to your site to validate why not to choose you, you’ll take a different tack in bringing together the right elements – whether traditional marketing elements or digital marketing elements or a complete blend of both at different stages in that organic experience. I think marketing execution will succeed or fail by the true understanding of that new buyer model and how to engage with individuals with the right content in context of what that buyer is really trying to ascertain.
Change your content strategy around brand promise
When you factor in the changes in the buying cycle and in marketing actions, you also need to completely change your entire content strategy and the whole trust model of building content to a brand promise.
I honestly think the days of websites are numbered. Clicking on a website is nearly as dead as the cold call. Customers have no tolerance for coming to a website and clicking once, twice, three times and going seven layers deep. Those days are over. This is our opportunity to rethink even how browser experiences work. I think the days of browsers are dead. Millennials get all their content from managed applications that they use on mobile devices.
Those mobile applications are so successful because modern buyers are used to consuming content in a different way. They don’t want to click, they want to swipe. They don’t want to drill down and read, they want to consume and see images. They don’t want to be sold to, they want to have an authentic experience that makes them believe what they’re seeing is accurate and helps them make their decision in a more experiential way.
You can get there from here: Four steps to modern marketing
At this point, you might be saying to yourself, I’m focusing too much on millennials when many of the companies we market to are run by people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. My answer would be who should those non-millennial leaders look to for help in achieving their next revenue boost — it’s the future leaders. If you’re not thinking about their needs, your company is probably not going to be on the S&P 100 for very long. You’re not going to be disruptor. Unfortunately, you’ll be the disruptee and the disruptee position is one that this market has no forgiveness and tolerance for.
The way I see it is companies can get on a path to modern marketing now by adopting four steps.
- Step 1. Truly admit and be honest that you have to modernize your marketing and be willing to break things.
- Step 2. Figure out your customer experience mode and who are your individual customers.
- Step 3. Decide on your engagement strategy to execute in that new customer model.
- Step 3.5. Determine which content you will start to bring into that new model.
- Step 4. Ask what you will stop doing — what the real measure of marketing is.
Honestly, the true success measure is not conversion, it’s not leads, and it’s really not even revenue. How you see true marketing value is that your customer believes the authentic brand promise and will admit that you delivered on it. That’s what successful marketing looks like. Because then it’s not marketing, it’s the truth that you told and it’s not just a story, it’s about getting that customer involved in creating that story and then telling it again and again and again because it’s authentic.
Image credits: Brand marketing concept © Rawpixel - Fotolia.com; headshot by NetSuite.