At the onset of every football season, legendary football coach Vince Lombardi would take his band of seasoned football players onto the gridiron and begin their instruction with something like “Gentlemen, this is a football.” He would hold up a brown leather football. From there, he would proceed by explaining the game of football in basic terms, and gradually build into more complex details once the fundamentals were covered. Lombardi’s philosophy of starting each season from scratch was built upon his belief that a team’s mastery and constant awareness of the fundamentals, more so than anything else, would breed success. This policy of constantly going back to the basics is not just useful in football. It can be a valuable exercise in marketing as well.
In the information age that we live in, technology is turning out more gadgets than most of us can keep up with. On its face, this relatively recent explosion of developments in the tech sector appears to have done nothing but positive things for marketers. The Internet now serves as an endless supply of consumer data for information-hungry marketers. Digital analytics software has made it easier for marketers to crunch the data in order to identify the important parts and make the appropriate inferences. Even staggering new technology has surfaced such as intelligent video analytics, which utilizes surveillance cameras as a means of collecting demographic and behavioral data about customers.
Technology has made marketing easier than it’s ever been — well, that is, assuming access to valuable information is the single most important factor in the success of marketing efforts. And that is not necessarily true. In fact, perhaps this staggering repository of information and more specifically the fancy tech that created it has done us a disservice by directing our concentration away from the fundamentals of good marketing. It’s time to recognize some of the consequences of such a lapse in focus and acknowledge the need to revisit the basics.
So we might be a little too focused on the more sophisticated side of marketing and less on the fundamentals. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
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We could stop listening.
Effective marketing largely involves two-way communication. When you crank up the amplitude of information you are involving in your marketing process, it becomes easy for the individual voices of customers to get lost in the crowd. In other words, it becomes difficult to effectively monitor and take note of the customer experiences of individuals whether they be negative or positive. For example, consider the customer who is automatically added to the email list of a company without your request or authorization. They might request to be removed from the list, only to find that nothing happens. Or they might even be added to the wrong mailing list, which would lead to a large number of completely irrelevant emails sent.
Either of these scenarios could be the result of too much focus on the masses and not enough focus on the individual. If our pool of information is so vast that it is drowning out the vital voices of consumers, we need to reassess our game plan. We need to go back to the basics and keep our hand on the pulse of customer experience at every turn.
We could forget about our loyal customers.
Many of the cutting edge marketing tactics that are coming forth due to advances in technology are focused on generating organic interest in a company or brand. They are made for the purpose of enhancing customer acquisition. This is a worthy cause, but one of its pitfalls is a lack of concentration on customer loyalty and retention. This is a problem because, as one CEO pointed out, loyal customers spend more, cost less to maintain, and are often themselves great advocates for the companies they are loyal to. It’s great if technology can help you make great strides in one category. However this progress does not compensate for other potentially critical shortcomings.
It’s hard to deny the allure of new developments in technology, particularly the various forms of data analysis that are available. These things are powerful tools if they are used in conscious tandem with the fundamentals. Just be sure to remember what old Vince said to his players at the start of every season: “Gentlemen, this is a football.”