Elvis on The Future of Marketing: A Little Less Campaign and a Little More Action


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This post originally appeared on Forbes.com

Each year the fall rolls around

Summer tans have faded. Marketing planning begins. Here’s the sequence: Agencies get briefed, ideas are presented, concepts get developed, creative gets shot, media gets bought, ads run, results get measured, and (maybe) awards get submitted. Celebratory dinner with the requisite toasts and back slapping. Fall rolls around again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

latherThis is traditional marketing. A phenomenon that Seth Godin labels the TV industrial complex. The only problem. It doesn’t work as well as it used to. Or in some cases it doesn’t work at all.

Whose to blame for the campaign based mentaility. Is it the brand or is it the agency? Who is going to break the cycle of TITWWADI (This Is The Way We Always Do It). When is this Einsteinian version of insanity going to stop? It’s hard to blame the agency. You can’t expect them to change if there entire business model is predicated on not doing so. Perhaps it’s up to brands to break the cycle.

Are there companies willing to change?

Maybe the Price is right. In a recent Forbes interview the CMO of CVS Rob Price described how they are making the shift,

Rob Price“We’ve gone through a real transition. In the seven years I’ve been here, we’ve moved from being more of an Advertising and Promotions department to really being an Insights to Action function.. That changes your focus substantially. But of course we still do the advertising, marketing and promotional accountability, that’s our functional expertise… We’ve reduced degree of traditional advertising that we’ve done. Because we’ve found, and maybe it stems from our advertising roots. Advertising is about frequency and reach. Well, we have 35 million people coming into stores every week. Tens of millions with our mail order pharmacy and  with our prescription benefit management. So if you monetized, if you put into traditional advertising terms, all of those are exposures or impressions. The media in our operating environment is thousands of stores, hundreds of thousands of people, serving millions of customers, creating billions of interactions. It’s very large numbers and we’ve decided to harness the energy of the marketing team in collaboration with IT, Store Operations and Digital.”

This is groundbreaking in two ways. First, CVS is shifting focus away from awareness and acquisition towards the customer experience and retention. Second, Price acknowledges that it involves working across the organization to accomplish marketing goals. Marketing is no longer a siloed function. Generating insights and turning them into actions.

From a Pharmacy to a Piano

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Does this same approach work if you don’t have millions or billions of interactions. What if you are selling a high ticket item to a difficult to reach audience like an $80,000 grand piano? Here is how does Steinway Pianos pushes beyond campaign towards action? When you buy a grand piano from Steinway, they will stage a private concert in your home. According to author Joseph Pine it comes with all the trimmings.  Steinway helps with invitations, serves wine and hors d’oeuvres, provides valet parking and brings in a professionally trained concert pianist. It creates an experience for its customers. And you know that’s the best that piano will ever sound in the home. Pine spoke to a Steinway customer who had held a concert. Two of his friends bought a Steinway afterwards.

It’s not easy making the shift from campaign to commitment. Marketing has typically been about the funnel. Taking a top-down approach to generate awareness, create interest, cultivate desire and drive action. Today the convergence of the access to data and an empowered  consumer has forever changed the game. Smart companies are taking a  more considered bottom-up approach. They are constantly asking themselves, “How can we better serve and support the customers we have?” They’ve shifted to a customer first, prospect second mindset. HARO founder and author Peter Shankman says it best,

Take care of the customers you have, and they’ll bring you the customers you want.

In closing, perhaps we need to look to a King for advice. Stealing the lyrics from the classic Elvis tune, “A Little Less Conversation“:

A little less [one-way] conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation [interrupting] ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite [action] and a little less bark [talk]
A little less fight [push] and a little more spark [insight]
Close your mouth and open up your heart [commitment] and baby satisfy me [customer]
Satisfy me baby

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is the one and only Elvis:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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