Marketers, who were once tasked with just building awareness for companies, have evolved into brand ambassadors with a new boss: customers. Scrutiny or success of a campaign is determined and delivered by customers tweeting, blogging and voting with their dollars. Gone are the days of calling a marketing campaign successful, because it looked good and sales rose that quarter.
Today’s marketer is responsible for over delivering on customer expectations and proving that those efforts drove immediate revenue. As customers’ voices become louder, and as they interact with brands in more ways, the modern marketer’s job has become a lot more visible and complex — and the path to success is not so obvious.
As this path evolves, it’s more important than ever for marketers to define and embody an ethos. For a solid, core foundation, marketers should consider the following:
1. Be yourself.
Truth in advertising may have become an anomaly long ago but authentic engagement with customers matters more than ever. In a time when happy customers have become the ultimate sales engine and unhappy customers have upended countless businesses, sensational marketing claims and click-bait subject lines have proven to be unsustainable strategies for winning and keeping customers. Instead of looking for “an angle,” be true to what you stand for and find ways to add value to your customers’ lives by sharing content that helps them solve problems.
2. Tell a human story.
Products and services, no matter how personalized or relevant, don’t connect with people the way stories do. Use human stories — not just value propositions and data points — to communicate how you can help customers. Every story should have a non-robotic tone and be easy to understand. All marketing messages should be succinct, driven by a clear narrative and highly visual.
3. Pick a fight.
Most marketers shy away from controversy for fear of losing ground. While there are always risks to being bold, a story becomes more compelling if you’re the underdog. Goliath doesn’t always need to be a direct competitor — it can be a customer pain point, a battle with mediocrity or a fight with the status quo. Companies often underestimate the creative freedom that can be gained from perceived disadvantages. What perspective can you bring to the table that others aren’t?
4. Join today’s conversation.
Customer conversations are everywhere and social-media sites like Twitter, Facebook and blogs have made it easier than ever to add two cents. There are conversations going on today about your industry, products and brand. Join the ones that are relevant to your business and provide useful content. Marketers that create messages unrelated to relevant conversations happening today risk having them fall on deaf ears. It’s hard to attract a large audience with a new conversation when you haven’t been contributing to an existing one.
5. Stop guessing.
It’s no secret that data is everywhere, but is it being used to make marketing decisions? Customer feedback, user activity, website tracking, and campaign data should be used to prioritize and drive effective marketing programs. Data and analytics make decision making less risky. Even new bets can be made with related information.
No matter what kind of business you’re in, or how long you’ve been at it, reflect on the qualities that will keep you relevant in today’s market and ahead of your competition.