You assume there is no need to verify your assumptions about the marketplace, what your prospects want, why your customers buy.
You’ve created your strategy. You know it’s a good one. Now you can hand off the implementation. Social media, sales calls, blogging, and all the other pesky drudgery is why we have employees or hire outside agencies. Right?
No one can know your marketplace as well as you can. We all know that intelligence rises with rank. (I was actually told that once, in just so many words.) Employees are there to take orders. The market will accept whatever we offer. (Early in the digital revolution, for example, AT&T insisted that there was no reason to go digital; analogue was just as good.)
You’ve got the demographics. You’ve got the trend data. You’ve modeled it all out. You’ve laid out your plan and lined up your tactics. There’s no point in worrying about why individual members of your target group act the way they do, make buy/no buy decisions. You’re selling to a target market, after all, not individual people but a class, a group, a demographic. (Right now, the hot new trend in agencies is to develop “personas” which combine demographics, psychographics, and other attributes – such as “mobile savvy” or “privacy freak.” Then these personas are given names: “Privacy Peter” or “Mobile Mary,” for example. I would suggest, however, that while this undoubtedly personalizes groups for the marketers, it still objectifies the customer and attempts to reduce him to a narrower segment than he’d self-identify with.)
Okay, so now you’re following all the pundits and gurus. You have a customer engagement program (so you can be “customer-centric”). You’re on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and are ready to go when the next great social media platform launches. You’ve got your product literature online, and your Web site boasts a blog. And each of these areas has a manager in charge; so you know you’re covered. But who is ensuring that they all work together.
You are so busy keeping up with all the new ways to market and all the new tools to help you that you neglect the tried and true methods that have made marketing successful to date. The sexiness of getting customer feedback online and through social media, for example, has replaced the old-fashioned hard work of doing statistically relevant market research, hasn’t it? Worrying about “customer engagement” sure is a lot more fun that measuring “customer satisfaction,” isn’t it?
In today’s marketing environment, everyone wants to be a strategist. There are customer engagement strategies, product introduction strategies, PR strategies, advertising strategies, social media strategies, mobile marketing strategies, and so on. Properly conceived, these are not strategies. They are tactics which should be designed to support a marketing strategy. Not having one over-arching marketing strategy – and ensuring its implementation through all your tactics – is, perhaps, the most deadly marketing sin of all.
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