I was helping my daughter with her middle school math assignment this week when the proverbial light bulb in my head went off. Working through the various geometric patterns and equations, I realized that these same symbols and formulas also offer useful metaphors to frame the challenges that tomorrow’s marketer faces in the digital age.
Let’s take a closer look.
From Cones to Circles
B2B marketers have spent decades obsessing about the marketing funnel, focusing on how to cast the widest net at the top. But in this new era of marketing, the modern marketer has stopped viewing the customer journey in terms of a funnel and instead thinks about it as part of a virtuous circle.
In addition to finding ways to acquire customers faster, tomorrow’s marketer is thinking about customer retention and advocacy and in this way, she’s forging lasting, personalized relationships with buyers. The fact is that customers nowadays have many choices and very low switching costs. For this reason, it’s critical that marketers pay close attention to the quality of their customer interactions. Marketers who listen and then engage with their customers will see their efforts pay back in the form of brand advocates who tell others about their positive brand experiences. But for those marketers still stuck in the funnel, please beware. There will soon come a time when your customers replace your brand with one that knows them and markets to them based on their interests and past experiences.
E = MC2
By the time a prospective customer engages with a brand today, they have most of their research already complete. That’s what makes understanding your buyers so important. Tomorrow’s marketer is listening across all digital channels to understand who their customers are, what they care about and how they like to communicate. Tomorrow’s marketer builds long-term relationships using Engagement = Meaningful [Communication] times Continuous Context.
When I say Meaningful, I’m referring to the fact that every interaction is relevant and meaningful and builds upon the previous one. Continuous Context embraces the notion that each interaction becomes part of a continuous thread, where brands listen and learn from previous interactions and then communicate with buyers in ways that are always contextual. So together, E=MC2 speaks to a personalized way that marketers engage with every individual.
For example, when I log into Netflix, the movie recommendations that I see are based on who I am as well as my previous online behavior. My wife and I recently watched a romantic comedy so the next time I log on to Netflix, I’ll see new movie recommendations based on my previous selection. Netflix learns more about me at every stage of our relationship and their recommendations evolve based on each interaction I have with the brand. It’s a lesson every marketer should take to heart. There’s little that’s meaningful or continuous about mass marketing.
The Shifting Curve of Customer Spend
Historically, marketers have done very little to drive retention since customer behavior was relatively easy to predict. While the self-directed journey renders that notion obsolete, we still see 85% of marketing spend go to acquisition even though it’s more expensive to acquire a customer than to keep one.
Tomorrow’s marketer is focused more on building relationships and engaging her customers in personalized, relevant ways. She’s recognized that it’s much more cost-effective to build brand loyalty and advocacy with current customers than it is to find new ones.
S = T/S (Success equals Time over Specialization)
The most successful marketing tells a story and creates an emotional connection with people. However, tomorrow’s marketer isn’t a specialist. This is contrary to what we commonly believed, but specialization is no longer the ticket to success. Our CMO Sanjay Dholakia, writes eloquently about the need for more latter-day DaVinci’s in marketing. Sanjay nails it. We need more multi-talented generalists who can comfortably handle myriad challenges from creative and brand design to product marketing and demand generation – and beyond. In other words, both art AND science. These are the kind of marketers who will flourish in tomorrow’s world.
Convergence, Not Divergence
For the longest time, there’s been a divergence in the best practices in B2B and B2C marketing. Each specialized in what it did best and perish the thought that they might ever learn from the other. B2B and B2C marketing best practices are equal sides on an isosceles triangle and they are rapidly converging.
We’re at the point where enterprise marketers can benefit by learning the personalization techniques developed by consumer marketers. And consumer marketers can learn to build long-term relationships by tapping into the nurturing techniques perfected by enterprise marketers. When it comes to the buyer journey, B2B and B2C cannot exist as different silos. Customers don't care about the old distinctions and definitions. Whether they're buying jewelry or mainframes, they expect to be engaged on a personal level and on their own terms. It’s not about B2B or B2C – it’s about B2H (Business to Human). Tomorrow’s marketer sees that convergence and aptly applies lessons from both sides to build lasting relationships with her customers.
So here we go – five mathematical symbols and formulas that will shape the success of tomorrow’s marketer in the digital age. Count on it.