It’s an amazing time to be a marketer. The old rules for how companies connect with individuals are being redefined as customers take their rightful seat at the table. At the same time, the marketing profession is experiencing a fundamental change as trends in social, mobile and big data converge, forcing us to rethink the role of marketing and communications.
This transformation requires a change in both behavior and overall mindset. To help with this journey, here are some old-school marketing habits to avoid and suggestions on what marketers can do differently.
1. Trying to Control the Message
- Weak marketers cling to the command-and-control approach to communications. They fear negative comments from customers and discourage employees from engaging in social media. In doing so, companies are willfully letting competitors and detractors speak on their behalf.
- Strong marketers embrace the fact that anyone can be a potential ambassador for your brand. Such marketers encourage feedback -- both positive and negative -- as honest conversations lead to meaningful dialogue and deeper customer empathy. The focus of marketing evolves into orchestrating rather than controlling the message.
2. Defining Success with "Ego Metrics"
- Weak marketers focus on superficial reach metrics (e.g., numbers of followers, e-mails or events) because these are big numbers and it’s easy to show upward lift. Unfortunately this data says little about actual impact to the business.
- Strong marketers use outcome metrics focused on engagement and conversion (e.g., number of community contributors, pipeline impact and conversion rates). They also understand that just because you can measure something doesn’t mean that you should.
3. Creating Beautiful (but Useless) Content
- Weak marketers spend a lot of money on great looking content (brochures, videos and Web experiences) with high production value but minimal customer value. It may even have a negative effect if prospects waste their time consuming content that doesn’t educate or intrigue.
- Strong marketers value substance over style. They understand that people are looking for valuable information any way and anywhere they can find it. Effective marketers will showcase lower fidelity (but high quality) content from their customers -- many of whom know our products better than we do.
4. Treating Social Media as a Megaphone
- Weak marketers view Twitter and Facebook as just another channel to push out their messages. This amounts to little more than spamming out press releases and white papers that no one will read.
- Strong marketers recognize that social media provides an opportunity to speak with rather than to their customers. They also realize that you must earn the right to sell to customers. In other words: Be known for what you know, not what you sell.
5. The Myth of the Buyer's Journey
- Weak marketers view the buyer’s journey as a predictable, step-by-step path leading to sales.
- Strong marketers know that the buyer’s journey is more like the game Chutes & Ladders than a straight line from A to B. They also know that 60 percent of the buying process is already completed before a buyer ever contacts your company -- further reinforcing the importance of points No. 1 and No. 4 above.
6. Ignoring Product Management
- Weak marketers overlook their counterparts in product management or simply don’t view them as a key collaborator. This is a siloed approach that does not put the customer at the center of your business.
- Strong marketers work closely with product managers to create a holistic user experience across all touch points. They can also identify in-product marketing opportunities to generate new sales or moments of advocacy from its existing user base.
7. "Check the Box" Marketing
- Weak marketers are overly focused on completing their checklist of deliverables as a key indicator of success. This approach often results in negative customer experiences such as redundant Twitter handles, poorly constructed microsites and ineffective sales tools.
- Strong marketers challenge the status quo of predetermined checklists by: (a) Always asking, “Would a customer find this asset valuable?” (b) measuring outcomes instead of inputs and (c) only investing in those activities with a positive ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment -- see point No. 2 above).
Does this list resonate with you as a marketer or a consumer?