Touching the parts other (media) cannot reach…
Last week I attended the Connections EMEA – Lead From Within conference run by Exact Target. I sat in on some interesting seminars about global digital trends affecting marketers and listened to some inspirational speakers. Overall, the themes were the expected ones of personalisation, content marketing, engagement and automation – all concepts and trends that have been building for a decade at least, but it gave me an important pause from busy agency life to sit back and view the bigger picture.
The most important and problematic trend for me as a marketer is the one around individuality.
We all know about personalisation and the “audience of one”, but the crucial point here, is one around a growing demand by customers for personal recognition by brands. A personalised communication isn’t enough here – “fans” are looking for conversation and engagement – and maintained across multiple channels too. This, along with the rise of social media, speed of adoption of smart devices AND the completely un-impressible millennial generation (find US comedian Louis CK’s “Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s happy” interview on YouTube – I would have done it for you, but I don’t want you to imagine BWP Group endorses the frequency of swear words used!), cause the marketer operational challenges that far surpass the original battle in the 90s between IT and marketing over who owns “the website”.
Social has become the new customer service channel.
A “forever on” generation demands instant responses from brands 24/7. “Fans” who have volunteered personal information to brands are insulted if it isn't used contextually, and any brand that dares to send out irrelevant content will be deleted from an inbox in 1/20th of a second.
The environment is harsh and the trend is set to continue. You have eight seconds in which to impress the average adult (and I thank those of you who have stayed with me thus far!) and 48% of emails are now opened first on a mobile device. One in three consumers will buy online even while they are in-store viewing the product – making traditional ROI measures wholly inaccurate. Furthermore, the explosion of online research and availability of customer reviews has made it difficult for big brands to hide behind big spend ATL campaigns and not back their product up with great quality and service. Marketing can no longer just be the “icing on the cake” – it has to influence the whole organisation, right through the value chain, to make sure the brand can live up to its promises.
Here at BWP Group, we have long advocated the need for strong brand values that resonate throughout the organisation and act as a measure for every facet of a business. It isn’t enough that the marketing department know what the brand stands for. R&D, HR, Sales, Finance and the very operational set-up of a business must reflect the values to truly bring to market an authentic brand experience and live up to the demands of their customers. On top of this, we marketers must deal with increasingly granular segmentation, rapidly changing purchase behaviours, new platforms, delivering more content than ever before as customers crave education and individualisation, and devising new ways of measuring marketing activity to prove effectiveness.
This all takes investment, which marketing departments worldwide haven’t experienced the likes of for years.
It sounds gloomy, but there are some up-sides. Digital media also gives us some great measurement tools and real-time market insight. We have one global focus group at our fingertips, if we know where to look and how to instigate conversations appropriately. We can influence behaviours as quickly as we can get apps to market and we can change content as quickly as we can write it. Digital is being used to enhance in-store experience and open up markets that weren't previously accessible. It’s a brave new world, but one that you might need some guidance through… enter BWP Group.