The challenge for all marketers reading this all around the world is dramatic. Marketing must focus on highly targeted techniques that play to consumers' needs because consumers are continually re-evaluating how they spend their money. This is a primary reason why every "action" your brand takes will be met with multiple competing forces reacting to the brand's strategy. Let's call these competing forces and reactions "volatility" in the marketplace.
Last week, we suggested maybe there isn't any loyalty any more, especially as shoppers hunt for bargains and for value while they keep their expectations high for quality and service. As the market forces pound against your marketing strategies, understand that every other brand is trying to react in the same space. Just when we seek calmer blue waters, we realize it's not going to happen anytime soon.
The Marketing Implications
We propose you leverage the dynamics of the new economy and take advantage of the situation.
Focus on retention first. Then create a win-back strategy. Create a dynamic database of customers and measure everything you possibly can and leave no stone unturned to understand your customers — especially their buying behaviors and shopping patterns. Use rewards to say "thank you" and communications to stay connected with your customers. Test everything, but at the same time stay focused in the direct marketing space that allows you to be relevant and timely in your messaging and offers.
And here is a key point: many writers will lure you into believing that what your customers want are deals, so let's deal. We disagree. Your strategy and focus should be on value and while price is part of the equation, it's not the only variable. Reward the behavior you want. Begin by thanking and rewarding your high volume customers who support your brand. (It seems we always miss this part.) Target marginal customers to spend more. Target defectors to come back. Then, fill the pipeline with marketing tactics that bring in new customers because there will always be customer churn.
Invest in marketing where it is measurable. Of course, marketing budgets are routinely the first to be targeted for cuts. Turn that into a positive and find new ways to stay strategically focused on your customers. If you can measure the impact of what you are doing you can control multiple outcomes. If you cannot measure a campaign, don't do it.
Maximize your marketing mix. Stay focused on your brand needs. There is much discussion about affiliate marketing and joining generic rewards programs from credit card companies and others. Resist the temptation to take the easy road. Sometimes the sum of the parts may not be greater than the whole. What others say are value added programs are usually more value added for them rather than you. Our Sixth Star model focuses exclusively on you and it's a model you should always follow.
Be flexible. Everything is in a constant state of flux. Five years ago, we suggested that marketing plans should be written in pencil. We were definitely ahead of the curve with that idea. If your strategic thinking is more than six months old, IT IS ALREADY OBSOLETE. It's marketing's responsibility to understand where the world is in relation to your brand, not where your brand is in relation to the rest of the world.
This week, make sure that your team and everyone up on the C-level suite gets it. Ask everyone to define where your marketing focus is. Review what data elements you have to profile your customers. Re-evaluate your customer tracking efforts — and finally, put your overall resources to work to maximize profitable growth.
And in the face of increasing and confusing marketing dynamics, keep steering your brand toward the ultimate goal of blue water.
Bart Foreman, CEO Group3Marketing www.group3marketing.com