B&T recently sat down with Derek Laney, Salesforce’s head of product marketing for the Asia-Pacific region, to find out what marketers are doing wrong, and what they should be investing in now to remain relevant.
With advances in technology enabling companies to develop more personalised and targeted marketing, how can they strike the right balance to avoid being seen by consumers as too invasive?
Maintaining a relationship with a customer digitally or through marketing is a little like building a personal relationship – it’s about building trust over time. If you go straight to what may be perceived as an inappropriate conversation straight away, then that can potentially erode things. When we look at our 2016 Empowered Shoppers Report, for example, when customers talk about what builds loyalty, it’s consistency in terms of level of service and the way you communicate.
The challenge for most organisations is that they’re siloed in terms of the way that they operate, and we’re now seeing many organisations shift in the way they think to become more collaborative and consistent in their delivery, which ultimately builds trust and loyalty.
For example, the way that Australia Post was traditionally structured was that customer service was one thing, marketing’s another thing, delivery is a different thing. There was no one who was responsible for thinking about what happens to the consumer right through that journey, so they’ve put Christine Corbett, who’s the chief customer officer, in charge of telling customers about the promise of what Australia Post is going to deliver, through to how it is going to execute on that promise.
For many brands, there’s been this realisation that experience is no longer just about digital – having a great mobile app and website – it’s about empowerment of the people that deliver the experience for the customer as well.
What is the biggest mistake that marketers are making?
Thinking about those examples, the biggest mistake that a lot of marketers are making is doing tomorrow what they did yesterday. It’s about what your customers are looking for from you right now and how you respond to that. We’re all trying to move towards the same utopia where we have a consistent relationship with our customers that goes all the way from awareness to advocacy – it’s just a question of “Where are we now?”, “How can we get closer to that?” and “Which pieces should we move first?”.
In the case of legacy organisations like Australia Post, they’d heavily invested in infrastructure in their retail stores for the delivery of their product. They had a strong brand, but they weren’t positioned to be a digital partner, and they weren’t strongly positioned with consumers online. They’ve sort of changed that, and now have around 4.7 million subscribers to MyPost, which is your single view of everything about you and Post. They’re making that shift and they’re learning about customers, but traditionally they didn’t have that digital relationship, even though they had so many physical stores.
On the start-up side, the Frank Body example is not really something they’ve done wrong, but it realised that the things it did yesterday are not the things it needs to do tomorrow. The company went from zero products to selling a product every 37 seconds in roughly three-and-a-half years globally, but it recognised that the strategy it used – a very disruptive, brand story-focused, Instagram-led engagement viral growth strategy – was great for the initial stage of growth, but it now needs to shift and focus on learning more about their customers and personalising their strategy.
There’s this hyper-awareness and anxiety in marketing about getting to that utopian state, and from our experience, the largest organisations and the ones that have the most anxiety because they’ve already recognised the need to change. Our advice to them is to become a customer trailblazer – think like your customer, be the hero for your customer in your organisation, and rather than presenting yourself as “I’m the head of digital marketing”, present yourself as “I’m the one who understands the customer from beginning to end as much as possible”. Those who can be the customer advocate are the ones who are going to do well in their careers and be valuable in their organisations.
What should marketers be investing in now?
It’s never been a bad idea to be close to your customer and understand their experience by calling them up and buying your own product.
If we think about what’s happening now, there’s a huge amount of ad spend that’s been locked away in above-the-line and mass media, which is becoming less effective, and there are a lot of new ways emerging in how to spend that money.