Are Marketers Asking the Right Questions?


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Forrester recently held their Consumer & Finance Forum in Barcelona. One of their ever thoughtful resident analysts, Peter Kim, posed a series of interesting questions about applied social marketing on his Being Peter Kim blog, that he has been hearing over and over again from marketers.

  1. Does it (social marketing) integrate with our existing marketing strategy?
  2. Does it build our brand?
  3. Does it drive profitable business results?
  4. Can we measure it?
  5. Will it scale?

The questions make a great deal of sense from the traditional, inside-out, product-driven marketer’s perspective, but are they the right questions marketers should be asking? Or are there more insightful questions that modern, outside-in, customer-centric marketers should be asking to understand customers’ perceptions of their consumption experiences and how they talk about them amongst their peers?

  1. Does it integrate with customers’ consumption behaviours?
    Social marketing isn’t just about getting customers to do marketers’ bidding, it is about understanding how customers behave and earning the right for them to talk about their consumption experiences to others. As Womack & Jones describe in their Lean Solutions book, this requires that marketers work hard to understand what customers really want, deliver it to them on a plate and then make it easier for customers to do business with companies.
  2. How does it make our customers sense, feel, think and act?
    Brands aren’t created in the heads of marketers, they are created in the heads of customers. As Bernd Schmitt describes in his Experiential Marketing book, this requires that marketers construct consumption experiences that provide all the sensory clues to make them feel great, to make them think they want more and then to tell all their peers about it. Hearts and minds are won through delivering winning experiences, not bought through marketing communications.
  3. Does it add value to customers as well generate profits?
    Vargo & Lusch’s New Dominant Logic of Marketing is about delivering value to customers, the sort that they want to tell their peers about, not just making profits. The new dominant logic shows how value for customers is delivered through support prior to the sale, through help in configuring the right product options during the sale and during the long consumption experience after the sale, not just at the point of sale like traditional marketers have been brought up to think.
  4. Are customers talking about us to their peers?
    Too many marketers approach social marketing as if it was just another new-fangled channel in their marketing mix, rather than the opportunity to fundamentally rethink how they go to market to, with and through customers. As Duncan Watts describes in his Viral Marketing for the Real World paper, social marketing is not just about spotting the social influencers and recruiting them for viral marketing, it is much more about creating the consumption experiences that create real social marketing and using the right integrated communictions so that customer advocacy will be believed.
  5. Does it integrate well with the experiences we provide customers?
    Social marketing is not new. It has been going on since we started to sell products and services, and to integrate them together into coherent customer experiences. The advent of internet-enabled Web2.0 applications such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn has forced marketers to recognise that customers are now as important in shaping other customers’ perceptions as they are. As David Armano points out in a recent post on his Logic + Emotion blog, marketers still have some way to go before social marketing is fully integrated into the consumption experiences they provide to customers. Marketers at companies as diverse as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Mastercard and Lego are already making sold progress in this direction. Are you?

Marketers, particularly social marketers must learn to feel, think and act like customers do if they are to be succesful with their social marketing initiatives. Just asking the same old questions is no longer enough to succeed in the modern world of marketing

What do you think? Are marketers in-tune with the markets and customers they serve? Or are they stuck in an FMCG branding timewarp?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Manager


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