Let’s not pretend the four P’s of marketing are dead, useless, or outdated. They aren’t. You still have to price your product or service and promote it in the right places.
These age-old marketing corner stones are as important today as they ever were to your operations. What they don’t do, however, is provide you a compass to help guide strategy and insure your success. For this, you need new age P’s and Q’s that will orient you, and serve to infuse both a predisposition toward “customer centricity,” and help you take pragmatic actions with customers for balanced marketing.
In truth, customer centricity is simple to achieve. Give customer what they want. What’s difficult is to do this and run a growing and profitable business. To thrive in the digital age of the consumer you need a measured approach to a variety of factors.
So think about the below P’s & Q’s, and practice them to achieve balance when you plan and perform your marketing:
Pervasive & Persuasive
Instead of centering your marketing on your products and simply spouting off about all its attributes, concentrate on understanding customer preferences first. Regardless of your business, this is a better approach. Sure, there are times when customers can’t easily articulate a need. Consumers weren’t breaking down Apple’s doors demanding an iPod, yet they clearly wanted portable music. So even in these cases, if you understand their behavior and fundamental need, you’re more likely to fit an offering to an expressed or latent requirement.
If you understand the market you are in, and what the customers really want in that market, and you hear them out, then you are on the right path. If you can’t pinpoint them, and you rarely do research and gather data, you probably aren’t actually listening to your target audience. Get to know your customers. Listen to them. Live in their shoes. Learn from them. When you do this, you will uncover huge opportunities to serve them better.
Interface with customers on many levels. If you sell jets, listen to and understand more than just the airline buyer, but also the infrequent & frequent passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and maintenance crews.
Make personalization self-service. Figure out how to allow your customers to self select the marketing they receive. Make it a dialog and give plenty of options. Then, use that data to customize your marketing activities and the product and services you promote. Often, the same offering will fit different customers, yet make it so because they selected it as opposed to they had no choice.
You can listen, and you can configure, but unless you can deliver, your marketing is the noise before your defeat. Put time & effort working with your product teams, your operations, your fulfillment, your service staff, and your training folks. Once you get a sale, make sure the customer is not subject to old school mentality where the post-sale devil appears and declares, “Oh all those promises were for when you were a prospect, now you are my customer.”
Get your message out – everywhere you can where your target audience is. Nowadays, there is a lot of marketing clutter, and you are going to need to work hard to get reactions to your impressions. You don’t always have to spend traditional marketing dollars or use classic methods to do this, because you can growth hack. For example, consider using “Contextual Incremental Marketing” as a methodology to sustain your message in digestible chunks more likely to sink in over time. Leverage your customers as a marketing channel – when they have success, they are your most credible spokespersons. Spend a portion of your marketing efforts teasing out their accolades and distributing their stories.
In addition, leverage social influencers, blogs, crowd sourcing, partners, affiliates, analyst, review sites, and local community efforts to spread your word. In other words, use the digital network effect to your advantage.
A new adage I’ve heard that I totally disagree with is “Speed trumps Quality.” It’s a sad commentary on society in general, but specifically for Marketing and Products, it’s a problematic long-term strategy. You will erode your customer trust if you don’t have quality marketing, sales, and products. Strive for high quality, and take the extra time to get it right – the alternative of sloppy or mistake-ridden output is unacceptable to your customers. Find me a brand that has stood the test of time, and I will show you a brand with quality at its core. So measure twice and cut once.
Don’t be afraid to qualify with whom you do business. You have a business to run, and if you did a strategic business plan (I hope you did – if not – go directly to jail and do it – do not pass Go – do not collect $200) – you have a specific market and customers you are focusing on. If you stray outside that, using the same plan, it’s a recipe for failure.
Consider customers that aren’t properly qualified for your existing products as a potential future opportunity for another adjacent market with another product. Then, study it and make a deliberate decision of whether to enter that market segment.
If you aren’t measuring it, you aren’t managing it. Moreover, if you aren’t managing it, you can’t improve it. You need to commit to sustained measurements so that you can adjust dynamically. Consider this – if a police officer pulls you over and asks you why you were doing 60 mph in a 35 zone, and your answer is that you didn’t think you were speeding because when you checked a week ago, you were going 35 mph – that argument won’t hold weight, and it doesn’t hold weight in your business.
You need quality, but you also have to be quicker than you were before, and certainly faster than your competition. This means speed in detecting changing market conditions and agility in adjusting your messages and product to that new dynamic. You must be real-time in your ability to use customer context, and factor it into your decision-making, using a next best action approach.