10 Tips for Modern Marketers to Thrive

10 tips for modern marketers

A previous post on the emergence of empathy marketing set the stage on the need for marketers to reinvent themselves and their organization to embrace a new era for marketing, ruled by the social customer. How can modern CMOs go about initiating this transformation? Here are a few tips:

  1. Focus on your customers: Listening, observing and empathizing with your customers will help you build a better brand, better products and experiences. Marketing executives ought to be on the frontline of getting to know customers. If people in your organization think that customers are stupid and interacting with them is a waste of time, they should be working elsewhere. There’s no room for being condescending with those you need to empathize with.
  2. Rethink segmentation: Become a student of behavioral economics and only use demographic segmentation when under duress (legally required). Developing marketing programs and user experiences should follow usage patterns and behaviors rather than customers’ socio-demographic profiles.
  3. Be inclusive in shaping your brand values and message: Whether or not you like it, your customers are already defining your brand, your product and your message (if not, you should be worried about your brand). The only question is: are you going to fight it or embrace it? In this new context, the role of marketers is to facilitate their brand rather than manage it (paraphrasing Bob McDonald, former P&G CEO).
  4. Participate in a conversation that is bigger than your brand: Only iconic brands defining a category can afford to confuse the conversation about their brand and the bigger conversation they are a part of. For everybody else, your contribution to the online conversation ought to be bigger and more valuable than explaining to the world how cool you are. You need to relate to people and to do that participate in conversations they’re interested in.
  5. Invest in building and nurturing key relationships: Find and cater to your influencers, in whichever shape or form they come, nurture your advocates, and build bridges with your detractors. Getting to know the people in your market and brand eco-system will not only give you more opportunities to disseminate your brand message; it will help you shape your marketing and product strategy.
  6. Break down silos: One key lesson from the social web that marketing organizations need to process is the fact everyone is a company spokesperson: marketers, sales managers, customer service reps, partners, customers are all actual or potential brand ambassadors. Taking down the walls between traditionally separated functions in your organization is critical to create a fuller picture of all actors involved and a more unified experience.
  7. Build the right-brain part of your organization: In a world where marketers have to build relationships and get to know their customers, it is critical to develop the social and creative side of an organization that has become very analytical. For example, hire from backgrounds other than marketing (sales, customer service), define a career path for community managers.
  8. Help interest groups syndicate but don’t try to own them: I’ll be honest, I don’t believe in branded communities. I don’t mean that I don’t believe they exist; I mean I don’t believe they can work in a sustainable way – the proof is that if you take them off life support (brand investing heavily in moderating), most tend to die. However I do believe that people who embrace a specific brand often share interests, values, and affinities. I also believe that brands can absolutely help people find each other, create and sponsor a place for them to meet and interact, but the community ought to own the group and the conversation, not the brand.
  9. You don’t really want reach, you want results: Reach is a legacy metric from the Mad Men days. At the time, it was the only available proxy for success: with reach, you get awareness, and with awareness you improve your chances to be noticed by prospects. It turns out that in the days of the social web, reach is a horrible proxy for success. Mass distribution of a message whether paid, sponsored or earned to an unqualified target creates more noise in an already very noisy world. Instead, focus on impact metrics: hone in on people and communities most likely to be interested in your category. Once you have found them, get to know them and…
  10. Don’t persuade, convince! I have always a real issue seeing marketing through the lens of ‘persuasion’. The difference between persuading and convincing is subtle but very important: one requires someone to surrender their critical thinking (persuade), the other to exercise it (convince). In a world where people make decisions based on the opinion of people they trust rather than advertising, persuasion is no longer an option for brands. This is actually a very good thing for your organization: encouraging your marketing team to convince rather than persuade will pave the path to excellence.

What do you think? What tips would you add to this list? Please share in the comments.