Everyone reading this is familiar with consumer oriented marketing. The digital divide, the convergence of technology with methods, and other trends empower and challenge us all. We're all here on the net, after all. What many social and marketing professionals fail to acknowledge is the reality of what can be called the Coherent Customer.
I was reading some LinkedIn Influencer pieces this morning when I came across this one by Oracle President, Mark Hurd. What struck me about this post was something Hurd called "customer-obsessed marketing." While we've paid lip service to customer experience all along, CMOs and other marketing professionals live in a marketing funnel of another kind now. According to Hurd:
"The winners in this new era of what I call “customer-obsessed marketing”—where the vast majority of buyers with handheld devices are often as tech-savvy or even more tech-savvy than the companies trying to sell to them—will be those who master both the art and science of such innovative marketing practices."
Now let that sink in.
We've heard the slogans; "Evolve or Die", "Engage or Die", or better yet something Scott Cook once said: "A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is, it's what the consumers tell each other it is." Well, the concept Hurd discusses takes Cook's ideas a step further. The truly Coherent Customer, and I mean cognizant on multiple channels and devices, is not only empowered by amplified word of mouth, but in the technology amplified personalized sense too. Let me explain.
Netherlands Perspective: A Connected Market Window
Sometimes the best way to grasp a dynamic with immense proportions is to look through a fairly narrow window. Looking at the "Dutch" people's connectivity, the market in Europe, it's easy to imagine not only ultra-connected Americans, but the state of emerging markets as well. Not many of you, honestly now, would think of any place in Europe as being mobile saturated, market wise. This is, in fact, no longer true.
This Deloitte study (PDF), "Addicted to Connectivity: the Dutch Mobile Consumer Perspective," supports what Mark Hurd, Brian Solis, Cook, and an army of other marketing gurus foretell. Several key characteristics arise pointing to my Coherent Customer group where device adoption is concerned.
The Deloitte survey goes on to discuss consumer habits in device usage, such as SMS vs. video calling for tablets and phones, as well as topics like "always on" trends, and I quote:
"Social networking and browsing news and sports sites are far more popular than other media consumption activities like mobile TV and mobile radio on phones and tablets. Both of these activities represent a disruptive substitute to the traditional media like newspapers, radio and TV in the news domain. The ability of social media to combine personal communication with personalised real-time news helps account for their popularity."
Most of this infromation, we already are aware of. However, as Hurd points out, marketers have a lot of catching up to do because of the Coherent Customer. As the lines in between marketing and IT blur, the consumer has a huge head start collectively using tech in their daily lives. What this amounts to is, "marketers are using tech to market, customers are using tech for everything." Therein resides a gap, a gap that makes consumers smarter than the sellers of the world.
The Big Picture: A Marketer Catch Up Game
The chart above borrowed from Deloitte's study shows consumers in Europe taking the practical, and predictable approach to device usage. Where using a tablet makes the most sense, that is browsing for retail stuff (window shopping digital style) the benefit of this techology become clear. The question is, how many marketers or even ad types take full advantage of tablets? Better yet, how many focus their marketing or ad expenditures on tablet apps? Now you begin to see how one CMO might lose his job, while another gets a raise.
Mark Hurd talks about "Consmer Obsesses Marketing" as a team effort. But you don't have to take Mark's word, or mine, that the marketing professional out there has some catching up to do. To correlate, Forrester Research just came out with “Mobile Advertising: It’s Time To Get Personal” - a study showing marketers are behind the curve in many respects. To quote Jennifer Wise, analyst at Forrester, talking to Mobile Marketer about mobile-first ad strategies:
“This mobile-first strategy requires integrated mobile ad formats that are less disruptive to the customer, and individually-targeted ads that provide relevancy. Instead, many marketers, agencies and ad tech vendors are relying on legacy desktop advertising thinking.”
While device adaptation is a fairly blunt tool to guage our new Coherent Customer, studying consumer trends increasingly points to not only cohesive elements, but to stratification as well. As so-called Baby Boomers adopt technologies, another report by Deloitte suggests stlll another adaptive CMO necessity to come. Companies, their marketing gurus, are going to have to become IT, mobile, social, and digital gurus themselves to keep pace with mobile consumers converging on the one hand, and so divergent on the other. Turning to Hurd's LI post again, "marketing needs to play a bigger role in harnessing all that data and, more importantly, determining how to use it to drive customers through the purchasing life cycle."
As further evidence most companies are way behind, ths Forrester Study from last year, "The Emerging Role Of Social Customer Experience In Customer Care", only one third of companies actually deliver on a positive customer experience. This means two things for me. First, there's a huge disconnect in between marketing and service delivery (with marketing implicated as being sales and no service). Secondly, and much more importantly, theres a MASSIVE opportunity for competition to move in and deliver.
Failing to recognize the new connected and Coherent Customer is not an option. At least it's not advisable if your business needs to stay in business. To show an interesting example of how even traditional media companies are fighting to stay relevant these days, this piece by Sean O’ Sullivan, MSc Digital Marketing, tells of the Irish Times parlaying to readers via tablets. One thing this shows is, you don't have to work at Deloitte or Forrester Research to understand a trend, a necessity. Maybe the best point here is, Baby Boomers still want their newspapers, retail shoppers still want big picture windows, and nobody wants to be intruded upon with ads. One last thing is dead certain, nobody wants to be marketed to by someone who knows less than they do.
Think about this.
Image credits: Deloitte chart via their recent study (linked), Out of the Woods Marketing - courtesy author and © andrewgenn - Fotolia.com