What follows is the fourth and final extract from Nick Johnson’s new book - “The Future of Marketing: How Authenticity, Relevance and Transparency Will Help You Survive the Age of the Customer”. You can purchase your copy here.
To a great extent, the internal organizational refashioning that marketing departments around the world are experiencing is intended to ensure that companies are able to quickly deliver relevant customer experiences (and, on a more basic level, marketing campaigns).
This is a clearly defined and acknowledged challenge for global marketers: A full 94% have stated that the pace of change in marketing has increased (see Figure 3.5). This increasing pace of change is impacting marketing in the following four main ways:
1. Customers Expect Responses to Queries Far More Quickly
We’ve already looked at the rise of social media and its role in the fragmentation of the marketing landscape during the last decade. As a result, marketing is now increasingly focused on dialogue and conversation. Given the need for marketers to convey an authentic, human face to their customers, a company must be able to respond to customers as quickly as it would in a real-life one-to-one conversation (see Figure 3.6 ).
Yet only 34% of marketers currently feel confident that they are able to engage with their customers at the speed the customer base expects. Also, 60% said that they were able to do so in some instances, whereas 6% lagged behind, under the impression that they were never able to talk to customers at the pace expected.
2. Customers Reward Marketing Campaigns That Are Closely Linked to Developments in the World Around Them
Real-time marketing is the relevant term here, to denote marketing campaigns that are able to react in real time to real-world developments. Brands need to insert themselves into the communal conversation taking place over social media. The Oreo “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” tweet in reaction to the power outage at the 2013 Super Bowl is still the most famous example.
Well-executed real-world campaigns deliver both relevance (hitting customers at a time and place that works for them) and authenticity (brands legitimately involving themselves in conversations on topics that matter to their customers).
3. New Platforms Reach Maturity (and Huge User Bases) More Quickly Than Ever
As discussed in the previous chapter, new marketing platforms are springing up frequently and quickly proving worthy of consideration by marketing departments.
About ten years ago, marketing was awash with warnings about the speed with which individuals were adopting profiles on newfangled social networks such as Friendster and MySpace.
Then, Facebook’s dominance gave the impression that things were about to get simpler. With one clear winner in the social user race, marketers could begin to trim back on other, less vibrant and less pervasive platforms. They could afford to focus a bigger chunk of time and resource on this one social channel.
Yet the last three years have seen an additional fragmentation— and, importantly, an increase in the speed with which this fragmentation has occurred. You can see this in the growth rates of Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and WhatsApp (see Figure 3.7).
As new channels rise up, older ones crumble. Marketers need to deal with the speed at which their landscape is changing. Many stories suggest that younger audiences, wary of Facebook’s somewhat questionable approach to privacy, are moving to more anonymous social platforms. They may even be shunning social platforms altogether, explaining the rapid ascent of one-on-one messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat, and even anonymized versions like Secret and YikYak.
4. Data and New Measurement Methodologies Quickly Give Marketers Usable Insight into Campaign Success
As we’ve seen, increasingly the best marketing departments are those that can analyze campaign success midway through execution and make meaningful changes based on that analysis.
Understandably, companies are struggling to do so right now. Forty-six percent of marketers are not confident that their department is equipped with the skills and structures needed to function at this increased pace. Thirty-four percent had begun to take action to “work at pace”; another 7% were not confident that they had the skills and tools necessary to make the changes we’ve discussed.
How Are Marketers Beginning to Increase the Speed?
We asked hundreds of marketers how they’ve gone about dealing with this issue. When we asked them about specific tasks they’ve completed in an effort to increase the speed at which marketing takes place, they highlighted three core areas—given in priority order (see Figure 3.8 )
1. Get better at listening and noticing when customers talk to you
48% of executives say that good listening is essential to a fast, responsive marketing department. More than that, companies must have the ability to know, fast, what to listen to. A whole lot of conversation happens on Twitter, and it’s a waste of resources to listen to it all (be sure to check out the case study with One Medical Group on this topic in Part III , “Building for the Future”).
2. Get better at sharing information internally so different teams can pick up and process customer engagements seamlessly
24% of survey respondents said that to be a quicker, more agile marketing department many distinct departments must work closely together. A key focus involves the ability to share customer insight and data accurately and quickly with the right people.
3. Get better at streamlining processes to get messages out more quickly
Too often in laggard marketing departments, the systems and processes required to disseminate a message or share a piece of content are too onerous for today’s standards and requirements. The third area — highlighted by 23% of executives—for any company looking to increase its speed is to work out ways to sensibly cut through bureaucracy without increasing risk to an unacceptable level.
For more on how the marketer’s role is changing as they adjust to the changing marketing landscape and increasing power of the customer, get a copy of “The Future of Marketing”. The book - written by Nick Johnson and based on extensive interviews with 18 Chief Marketing Officers from brands like Aflac, Bacardi and Land O’Lakes - is available here.