Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Marketing Challenges as Inefficiencies. AKA: Bullpoop Removal.

Just for ships and giggles, let's try to categorize marketing challenges as inefficiencies.

Not the most exciting thing you can imagine right now?  OK, how about this: what [naughty word describing the manure of male cattle] would you get rid of to make working in marketing communications more fun and less arduous?

You see, inefficiencies should matter to everyone in marketing, not just the accounting folks.  It goes back to my belief that strategy really means economy.  As a result, anyone who considers strategy part of his or her job (e.g. everyone) should think about the inefficiencies that hamper good marketing practice.

For starters, I'll talk about three common inefficiencies and how marketers can address them.

  1. Information, please!  Assuming that your mass media advertising has done its work, consumers will want to know more about your brand.  Here's a dirty secret: you should let them have it.  I know, right?  Crazy talk.

    Unfortunately, many marketers make their prospects jump through hoops to get the information they want.  They overload websites with flashturbation. They flood the prospect too much information at once or not enough at all.  They train a fire hose of email at consumers who register some level of interest.  The list goes on and on.

    How to fix it: Simple.  Audit consumers' information needs along the customer journey.  Then act like these consumer types and see if the information available corresponds to the needs they have.  If these don't match up, fix it!
  2. What next?  Consumers not only want information, they also want to know what to do next.  Do they need to visit a store?  Pick up the phone and call someone?  Even though every communication these days effectively serves as a direct response communication, many marketers leave consumers hanging.  Here in New York, Audi USA have been advertising the diesel version of their A8 luxury sedan pretty heavily during broadcasts of the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees.  Yet the TV spots have little in the way of "what next?" communications.  In fact, until this week (as near as I can tell), they had no information on their website about the car.

    How to fix it: As above, consider what channels consumers will use throughout their journeys.  Then make sure that each channel points consumers onto the next step.
  3. Technology.  I saved technology for last because in many ways, it represents the most intractable kind of inefficiency.  We've all dealt with old technology or with technology that lacks a key feature.  More often than not, ineffective technology stems from a decision made under different circumstances than the ones you face now.  That is, your company may have chosen a marketing database years ago, and thus had never thought of integrating it with social media.  Or, procurement demanded the most cost-effective solution and...you get what you pay for.

    How to fix it: Well, you often can't.  Unless you can make the business case for new technology, you simply have to work within the confines of what you have now.  Going rogue and authorizing proprietary technology often meets a short-term need, but often ends up adding complexity later on.
What other kinds of inefficiencies do you face in your marketing?  Share 'em in the comments below, please!

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