This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.
We’ve all heard it a million times: “We’re a customer-focused company.” Or “We aim to accomplish customer-led growth.” Most companies claim they’re consistently delivering superior customer experience across all touch points. Really? Then how come you and I (as consumers when at home) are wary of brands hammering out mute marketing and advertising messages at us even when we don’t want it. The “Wolf of Wall Street” mentality still persists in the market. And, we all hate that but most of us still do it when at work.
Ever wondered how many advertising messages a mere mortal gets exposed to every day? More than 5,000. Yes…that’s true!
Now let’s talk a bit about customer experience. Take a look at this graph below.
One of the key reasons contributing to this delivery gap is the reluctance of brands to invest their time, money or resources in building relationships with the potential customers/customers. With consumer behavior changing incredibly fast, a large number of brands are either not able to keep pace or establish the right dialogue with the customers. And it’s not going to get any easier in the future.
So what’s the differentiator between those brands that are super successful in marketing or getting ready to be ones and those that are prepping up to fail miserably? Of course, it’s the willingness to invest in learning more about customers and executing some lovable marketing campaigns.
Over a professional career of more than a decade now, I’ve met and worked with, spoken to many marketers offline and online from across the world. Based on those interactions and my professional experience too, let’s face it – it’s not uncommon to see plain bad marketing. In fact, marketing that sucks, that’s far from lovable.
So if you are looking for some easy ways to create marketing that sucks, look nowhere. Keep reading.
3 Easy Ways You Can Easily Botch Your Marketing
1) Hire mediocre marketing talent
Often times, bad marketing is a reflection of the poor hiring approach. And, poor hiring is usually the outcome of a clear vision about the role, metrics, and the business objectives, and more importantly rash decision-making.
The widening gap between brands delivering awesome customer experience and ones that lag behind stems from the stark reality that there is a fierce race going on in the industry today to hire mediocre marketing talent and keep putting that on/off the marketing vehicle, without even knowing which direction the vehicle is steering toward.
On the hiring advertisement banner of most companies, we often find this “We hire only the best” Here’s an excerpt from one of the finest articles (written by DHH, Founder at BaseCamp) about the “delusion” created by many companies that say the above.
“How many times have you heard a company claim that they only hire the best? The top of the top. The crème de la crème. Most of them, by sheer necessity of math, are delusional. There just aren’t that many “the best” to go around. What these companies generally mean is that they hired “the best” of the candidates that applied. Whoopty fucking doo. That’s what all companies generally do (the special ones hire for best team, not just best candidates). Failing to see the difference between “best candidates who applied” and “the best in the business” is exactly the kind of Dunning-Kruger thinking that deludes companies into these grandiose proclamations.” (Read full article here)
How many times at marketing conferences, webinars and anywhere on the Web, have you heard any or all of these concepts/phrases: “Content is King”, consumer behavior, customer experience, personalization, and yadda yadda yadda? We all know, content is the lifeblood of marketing engine and is integral to delivering a great customer experience across all digital touch points. Agree?
Here comes a startling revelation!
Statistics on the state of Content Marketing in Asia Pacific in 2016 reveal that the key issues with managing content marketing in this region are the creation of quality content and developing a strategy.
So let’s talk about this critical marketing role – Content Creator / Content Strategist. If the market has multitudes of good storytellers aka digital content creators that companies hire claiming to be “only the best”, why does such a gap exist in terms of quality? Not saying there are not good content creators in this region, but very few in the number who’ve mastered the art of storytelling, and are digital, analytical with an outstanding reach to amplify the content that they write.
My start-up friends, mentors, peers – we all discuss the content bit of marketing, and the ever increasing challenge of content quality is one of the most commonly discussed topics. I’ve interacted with some “experienced” content creators working for giant corporations/big startups with zilch or little knowledge about the dynamic modern marketing (or content) industry trends (such as story telling), tools, hacks and even basic modern marketing terminology. These interactions are a reason that I can totally relate to the latest HubSpot content marketing report statistics.
Such content hires are a bit scary for two reasons:
- These do not exhibit core behavioral traits (inquisitiveness or adaptability) and key marketing skills (incredible writing/learning, product knowledge, or analytical skills)
- Such lack of passion for their job roles can have a drastic impact on the juniors within the team. This role, in particular, requires a person who can be a great mentor to the interns/junior team members.
A slide from the presentation of @dharmesh (CTO, HubSpot) at @EshipMIT
Coming back to the point, it’s all about hiring few but only exceptionally smart, hyper-rational, adaptable and decisive marketers. A brand has to be awesome at recruiting the right marketing talent for delivering superior customer experience. It won’t work any other way.
2) Adaptability is not your game.
You have a fixed mindset. Good.
You have marketing leaders who do not invest time in studying your industry and consumer psychographics. Even better.
You have a marketing team that does not challenge the status quo. Nothing beats this.
You can truly be a rock star in screwing up your marketing.
Now let’s talk about an approach that can blur your dream of botching up your marketing. The amazingly fast-changing marketing landscape and dynamic consumer needs have created a serious need for the marketing function to be adaptable to the changes and take decisions in real time. But wait. This does not call for rash decision making but decisiveness.
Marketers meet surprises at work every day. The most passionately executed marketing campaigns might underperform or a simple tweet might go viral. Good marketers know how to adapt and react to the changes quickly. The ability to react and act on signals is one of the top skills a marketer needs to possess today for competitive advantage.
With the Internet-induced transparency in the marketplace, these signals are evenly available to you and your competitors. Adaptive companies with sharp and analytical marketing function can apply advanced data mining principles to identify signals and leverage the capabilities for faster adaptation. The 21st century marketers’ adaptability trait can bring them back into the game despite so frequent algorithm updates by Google.
Many companies still rely on the customers’ demographical data sets available to them for executing their marketing campaigns; however, it’s important to understand that this information only scrapes off the surface-level insights. Behavioral data forms the core of adaptive marketing. It gives a deep understanding to the marketer about the likes, dislikes, preferences, motivations, goals, challenges and interaction with the brands. These future-forward insights help marketers devise relevant marketing campaigns likely to drive conversions.
In lack of adaptability, your marketing function is most likely to push into a futile cycle of strategizing and executing, without yielding any significant results. Adaptability can help your brand build a sustainable and meaningful relationship with your potential customers and customers.
3) You love falling into plotholes.
If you want to ruin your marketing, one of the best approaches is to get your strategy as much lip service as you can. There are good numbers of marketers today, who look at marketing strategy as a laundry list of wishes, goals or objectives.
Getting 3X leads isn’t a strategy but an outcome or a goal. It’s not any strategy. How you aim or plan to achieve those goals is what marketing strategy is.
Many organizations during their brainstorming session (if any) or review meeting(s) – in which some nice (sounding), high-level ideas are bounced off – get pretty excited about some new trends or concepts and instantly jump into execution. That’s falling into plothole leading to a pothole. It’s not surprising to see many campaigns belly flopping when you’ve marketing managers, who knowingly or unknowingly steer the team into executing a campaign without setting goals and a plan to accomplish those goals, leave alone the most important aspect of aligning different team members or even functions around that campaign. That’s nearsightedness of the leadership in marketing.
With that said, strategic planning is not every manager’s cup of tea. It calls for a vision – that of a leader, who can chart out new horizons of growth. Marketing is no different. It’s not about hawking your products/services at customers or doing a monolog It’s about delivering experiences – that can make a difference to the lives of the people your business is out there for. And delivering experiences isn’t cakewalk. It requires an in-depth understanding of the customers, their pain points, goals followed by meticulous strategic planning that leads to seamless execution and finally delivering those personalized experiences to your potential customers/customers.
Apple’s return to glory
When Apple was fighting its survival battle against the tough competitors like IBM and Microsoft in personal computing, it turned back to its founder – Steve Jobs – who had faced an unceremonious ouster from the company a decade back. It was the sheer strategic brilliance of this visionary that went into devising amazing tech and marketing planning that took Apple from bankruptcy to billions is mere 13 years. It’s the greatest corporate comeback story of all times.
He had realized that it was the apt time for Apple to stop competing in the personal computing space and transition into high-end consumer electronics selling at premium prices. He launched the Think Different advertisement campaign and re-connected the brand back to its novel values and mission.
This new dawn at Apple (that marked the advent of iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, AppStore, retail strategy, etc.) also shed lights on three aspects:
- A clear vision
- Superlative execution
- Reductionist stance that entailed selling only their simplest, most aesthetic offering
Keep these tips in mind if you want to ruin all the hard work you put into building the marketing function of your business.
I’m sure you’ve toiled hard to building a good product. So, do not let it go to waste simply because you now know the 3 easy ways to royally screw up your marketing.
How else do you think people mess up their marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.