The Impossible Game: Always On Marketing

Consumers expect something more these days. Nobody is waiting for the next ad campaign for your product. In fact, rarely do people actually see that ad campaign. They want a better life. they want more time. They want ease. They want to feel something. They want an experience that gives them joy. Now, I know we can’t solve all of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for our consumers, but we need to be doing a better job at fulfilling the right needs. 

These shifts in consumer behaviors have transformed the way we need to approach communicating with our consumers. In today’s environment, the experience and relationship are quickly becoming the driving force to a purchase and repeat purchase decisions (more than product efficacy or even price). This means we need to shift our perception in how we communicate with our consumers. 

The Impossible Game

As businesses, we’re very focused on the short term. How are we going to hit our quarterly sales numbers? How do we increase annual profit margins? The answer to these are usually knee-jerk reactions that benefits the company, but does nothing to fulfill the consumer needs referenced above. 

Instead we need to look at our business as an Impossible Game; one that has no end, but is something that is ever evolving. And that game is, how can we continue to add value to our consumers lives so we can keep and expand them as a consumer. This breaks down the barriers of short term thinking and puts the emphasis on making business decisions that exceed our consumer expectations, driving revenue from retention, expansion and advocacy. 

The purpose of a business is to get and keep a customer. Without customers, no amount of engineering wizardry, clever financing, or operations expertise can keep a company going.
— Theodore Levitt

Myth 1: Acquisition is the lifeblood of growth. 

As we all know, it’s more expensive to create a customer than it is to keep one. So why do we focus so much on acquisition? Especially in established organizations, we have a customer base. One that has made a purchase before but may have defected. The first step to growth should be to minimize defections and communicate with our current customers in a way that adds incremental value to their experience so they retain and expand as a customer. This not only increases short- and long-term sales, but in increases the likelihood of advocacy and word of mouth which drives stronger acquisition.

Myth 2: The fastest way to growth is a combination of advertising with a product incentive.

We’re all rational people. This should be a big flag in any of our minds. Not only are we minimizing the value of our products and services, but we’re communicating at mass that our product isn’t good enough for its full value. This may create a bump in sales, but I bet if you look at your data, you’ll find those new sales quickly defect for the next best deal and the perception of your brand declines. Instead, let’s nurture our current consumer base and onboard new acquisitions in a way that illustrates the full value of our product and service. 

Myth 3: Campaigns still work. We just need a short term boost for long term gains. 

Unless you’re the Super Bowl or a snow shovel company, it’s extremely hard to predict when a consumer is ready to learn more about your company and purchase your product or service. So why we would we try to predict something that is as ambiguous as purchase behavior with an ad campaign. Seems like a waste of media spend. Instead, we should implement a messaging framework and model that builds consumer relationships across a well designed holistic consumer journey to be there when they’re ready to learn or engage. This messaging can be more impactful at this more individualized level than a planned mass messaging strategy. We need to marry message with context and behavior. This is rarely done under the guise of a campaign.

Side Note: Don’t get me wrong, campaigns and advertising still have a role in today’s communication environment, but it’s not the saving grace that it used to be. It’s more to spark interest and drive towards an always on messaging. Not to drive sales at mass.

Bonus Tip: Break down the silos already.

For my entire career, I’ve heard the same problem effecting marketing and communications. “We have too many silos in our organization to create a consistent message and relationship.” Let’s all get together and break down these silos already. The consumer sees their relationship with your brand as one relationship, not one with sales, one with service, another in-store and yet another with financing. This is not a good experience for our consumer and does nothing to solve for their needs we referenced at the top of this piece. 

How are you communicating with your consumers? Are you leaning too heavily on advertising and acquisition? 

Want to talk more? Let’s chat.