So Marketing may not be as unavoidable as death and taxes, but lately it is becoming harder and harder to escape. As a marketing professional, I am not proud of our reputation as SPAM-ers. It seems as if the lower our outbound marketing response rates get, the greater the number of emails, phone calls, pop-up ads and other interruptions we throw at our weary populace.
As a consumer, I’m fed up. I refuse to answer cold calls at work or home. I can only watch TV shows on my DVR. If I’m forced to watch live TV like the news or sports, I pause it for 20 minutes so I can fast forward through the commercials or I multi-task and catch up on email or surf the web during commercials.
So while this may be considered blasphemy to some of my fellow marketers, clearly we are wasting large portions of our marketing budgets. And in many cases we know where the waste is.
Maybe Marketing isn’t as bad a death or taxes but sometimes it feels like it.
So how do we pull Marketing out of its downward spiral: the same way we deal with death and taxes. – we accept the reality and plan for it. Now I know that 2011 planning season is in full swing. But let’s face it, there are marketing plans thrown on PowerPoint templates, using the latest buzz words and amazing graphics. And then there are truly strategic plans that will move our organizations forward.
Two recent articles on Harvard Business Review offer some great advice. First is “Marketing Can Do Better” by Umair Haque. Umair urges marketers to start listening. No, not the kind of listening that will allow us to be more efficient in sending unwanted messages. It means listening to what will make our customers lives better. It means having real conversations with them. It means opening up to real criticism and actually listening. It means allowing as many employees in our companies to interact with our customers as real people. Wow! I want to be that kind of marketer. Umair even suggests that if we can achieve this, our customers might actually love us. But for now, I’d settle for just being tolerated.
The second article that inspired me was “How Forethought (Not Intuition) Separates the Good from the Great” by Jeff Stibel, CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. Jeff theorizes that success is not dependent on the typical predictors: intelligence, passion, knowledge or education.
Instead he proposes that it is forethought, the ability to think ahead, that separates the good from the truly great. He also contrasts this against intuition which is more of a natural inclination. Jeff explains that forethought requires “an abundance of details and you must labor over them. There is no right answer when thinking about the future, merely an endless number of scenarios.”
So let’s review:
- Consumers are increasingly resistant to marketing efforts
- Marketing can do better by listening to customers with the intention of helping improvetheir lives
- To succeed we simply need to apply forethought to future scenarios that would create happy customers
Are you up for the task?