Was pleased to be featured in Digital Marketing Magazine this past week. Here is the article I wrote:
The way in which customers interact with products and services is changing.
Businesses can no longer simply “push” their products onto customers. Now the individual has the information and the autonomy to discriminate against the marketing strategies directed towards them. Customers “pull” products and services towards them – to suit their exact needs, preference and timings. In essence, customers increasingly expect personalisation in return for their personal data. They don’t want mass branding and marketing.
Technology, Big Data and Social Media are fuelling both this customer knowledge and also business’ ability to personalise quickly at scale. Organisations are being urged to invest in Big Data strategies, in an effort to remain one step ahead of their customers and ultimately to survive in the increasingly competitive marketplace.
However, understanding Big Data insight and how to use it effectively is a challenge that many businesses grapple with.
It is estimated that only 18 per cent of data that’s available to businesses is effectively utilised. Despite the constant rhetoric surrounding Big Data, the reality is that there is little practical advice available to help organisations navigate this unknown raw asset – and to decide what data is important and what isn’t.
The main obstacle that many firms face is not knowing how to turn data-driven insight into effective action, or how to embed this across all levels of the business. At the same time, few business leaders have sufficient understanding of data insight to allow them to implement the changes required throughout their organisation.
What’s needed is a fundamental shift in approach. Too many firms make the mistake of starting with the data; the real power comes from starting with a strategic question that needs answering. What problem are we trying to solve, and how can data insight and processes help? Then, if you don’t have the right data to solve the problem, how do you get it?
For marketers, they should ask the question: ‘How can I better understand and serve my customer?’ and then they must build an appropriate digital solution and communication strategy. Figuring out the right question is half the battle won.
Furthermore, in order to stand out from the crowded marketplace, brands and businesses would do well to adopt a forward-thinking strategy. What are the emerging aspirations, trends and influences for each customer? Today, such work is done en masse, with very little granularity.
Traditional marketing is based on a rear-view mirror approach, focused on what consumers have already done, or bought. Take Amazon, for example, which makes customer recommendations based on what has already been purchased. This can work in high volume retail, but is less helpful in “capital items”, luxury, fashion or innovative new products and services.
The real winners will be the businesses that try to work out what customers might do and aspire to, rather than focus their efforts on customers’ past actions.
We call this the ‘Did-ness’ and ‘Do-ness’ approach, combining what customers actually did, with what they are most likely to do. This provides a powerful launch-pad from which to build an effective and future-proof marketing strategy.
In today’s world, it is critical that businesses know what their customers will do, because ultimately, it is their aspirations, passions and motivations that will lead to purchases.
Knowing what your customers are going to want and need – not only from you but from your competitors – has the power to transform your business.
By Mick Yates, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Starcount.