CMOs: Where Our Heads Need to be for Success in 2017

Blog Post
January 04, 2017

Reading through the many 2017 marketing predictions, there is one resounding theme: consumers are running the show. As Forrester says, all markets are on the move in response to consumer demands—even utility companies are launching customer experience initiatives.

We’re living in The Age of ‘Me’, and that means that as marketers, we really need to understand who our customers and our prospects are to speak to them contextually. In 2017, we will be challenged to completely rethink some of our long-held beliefs and restructure ingrained processes to cater to each individual, in the moment.

Let me start with a story.

I recently went to a retail website and looked at shoes. I liked the shoes, so I gave them my email address. That day, I got an email about the shoes, along with two additional emails. I didn’t open any of them. The next day, I got five emails; I only read one of them. They continued to send me five emails a day. After three days of being digitally accosted, I returned to the website and unregistered from email—even though I liked the shoes.

If I walk into a physical shoe store and pick up a pair of shoes, I might expect an associate to ask me if I need help with anything. But I would not expect the associate to ask me every five minutes for the next hour, “Can I help you now? How about now? Now? Still doing okay? How about now?” I also wouldn’t expect to hear, “What about shirts? Can I interest you in shirts? Or pants?” That is the human equivalent to the emails I received from this retailer. They hounded me even though I was just browsing and didn’t read their emails. They did nothing to react to my cues even though they had all of the information they needed to do so.

Ten years ago, the majority of the omnichannel marketing we execute would have been person-to-person. We would have been in the same room having sales appointments or talking with customers. We would have been seeing people lean forward, cross arms, shake heads…we would have adjusted conversations based on cues. Now these cues happen in a digital environment. Technology lets us see that these human cues ARE still there, but we need to pay attention to them.

Currently, marketing is obtuse and doesn’t think about the human cues. The whole marketing journey is bringing the human context back in, responding in kind to the person and how they’re acting.

In order to do that, we need to shift our mindsets and processes in several key ways:

  1. Think Beyond 1:1 Marketing
  2. It’s the Small Data that Matters; Stop Counting Everything
  3. Content: You Must Provide Return on Attention (ROA)
  4. Make the Move from Manual to Automatic with AI

Think Beyond 1:1 Marketing

One-to-one marketing is no longer good enough—even though we’re just getting there. It’s really one-to-one in the moment. While I’m always myself, there are things that make me behave differently, and there are different roles I play in my life. Contextually, I could be a CEO, a spouse, a father, a son. All of these are the same person, but the motivations behind buying something for myself versus buying something for my child that’s about to go off to college for the first time are very different. The things that are driving me to buy and the way that I behave are very much impacted by who I am at that moment.

As a marketer, you need to have the insights, as best you can, into who you are marketing to way beyond demographics and traditional personas. You need to know more than the fact that I’m Frank, a 51-year-old guy who lives in Denver. You need to know who Frank is in this moment. What parts of his personality are driving him?

To do this in 2017, you need to look at the small data, which I’ll discuss in my next post.

Also, I recommend you explore our approach to bringing human interaction back to marketing—check out the 5 Pillars of Best-in-Class Marketing.