Worldwide, more and more businesses, big and small, are struggling to understand the relevance and actionable applications of big data, technology and the consumer-driven buying process.
And make no mistake, this seemingly overwhelming trifecta represents actual business issues, not just marketing issues.
So, while this article covers the five marketing attributes your company (and I really mean all companies) must have in order to remain relevant online, it's also an accurate representation of how companies must maintain relevance within their competitive markets as a whole.
Let's dive into these marketing attributes, shall we?
Marketers as Technologists
Anybody who's anybody in marketing today can tell you that online, inbound marketing is no longer just an option with which to choose from.
Gone are the days of deciding whether or not any technologies fit into your overall marketing initiatives...they're now mandatory.
- Your customers do their shopping and fact finding online.
- Technology tools are often where you'll get the most leverage for growth.
- Technology is what allows you to most accurately track your performance and ROI.
Rapidly expanding capabilities, combined with widespread adoption due to consumerization, have reshaped the CMO role and made "martech" knowledge an absolute requirement for survival.
Also gone are the days where you could plan your entire marketing campaign or program out one year at a time.
Just think about what's changed over the past couple years alone - Google's AI and algorithm updates, changes in social media behavior, software tools and integrations - the list goes on and on.
All of these things have a significant impact on buyer behavior and an organization's ability to adapt to this behavior. Basically, if buyer behavior and technology are in constant flux, the old "set it and forget it" style of marketing is by default, obsolete.
This means your marketing must be equally (if not more) agile than the market itself, abiding by the Law of Requisite Variety so that it can remain relevant - in front of the right people and the right time using the right channels.
It was (and sadly still is) common for businesses to not have granular insight into the success or failure of their marketing efforts.
A company would engage in a marketing program and make general assumptions as to whether or not they think it was successful with statements like, "we seemed to get some business out of that," or "we got a few leads but I don't really think it was worth the money."
What we're really talking about here is the absence of closed loop reporting.
Now there are tools that, when properly implemented, give all invested parties complete transparency into the success or failure of marketing and sales programs - down to the dollar if really implemented correctly.
This level of transparency in performance allows for truly strategic decision making based on tangible data, rather than opinions or assumptions.
A Willingness to Invest
Ever heard the term, "penny wise, pound foolish?"
This phrase is popular because it perfectly describes those who are unwilling to spend a penny to make a dollar (or even ten dollars).
Fact is, many of the tools available to today's businesses that allow them to gain leverage (such as marketing automation software) carry a lot of potential business value, and thus, aren't cheap. When implemented correctly, they have the ability to generate significant functionality and a very healthy ROI.
Those companies who are willing to make these investments properly for bigger returns will find themselves continually relevant within their market while their penny-pinching peers struggle to keep the lights on.
Dedication to the Buyer's Journey
The core of any company's business model is to provide value to their customers.
Value, or even perceived value, is what actually sells and makes this whole thing called "commerce" go 'round.
Ideally, this value is provided before, during and after the transaction has taken place. This means customers have a kind of "journey" or "experience" when they buy from you.
Given that most businesses aren't selling anything truly proprietary or one-of-a-kind, this customer journey presents the best shot a company has at creating a truly unique differentiator (here's a great article from SurveyMonkey on how to do that).
The top brands in the world, like Apple, Facebook, Google and others understand that focusing on their customer's journey is safest path to remaining relevant and maintaining market share.
All this to say...
Relevance is not something that can be attained passively. It requires constant adjustment and monitoring, both internally for performance and externally for buyer behavior/market conditions.
If it seems like a lot of work, it is.
But those willing to roll up their digital sleeves are guaranteed a better shot at remaining relevant and competitive.