I understand why we do this, but I wish we could find a way NOT to do it.
Marketing is about creating and retaining customers. One layer down, marketing becomes about identifying prospective customers and determining what messages resonate best with them at the various stages of their personalized journey – from prospect to customer. You create plans to deliver messages subsequently to either active customers or lapsed customers in an effort to increase lifetime value of those customers.
At this level one finds complexity seeping into the equations, and things get more difficult.
It’s hard to understand the customer journey. It’s hard to create unified messaging that builds to a common story, but can still be personalized.
It’s a balancing act, where you are tasked to calculate the reciprocal impact of a vast number of endlessly dynamic variables like efficiency, attribution, and business intelligence alongside things like branding, pricing and customer experience.
In a traditional test environment you seek to limit and isolate the variables in order to read the results of your test. In an enterprise-marketing environment this is hard, because the volume of variables are overwhelming — and then you must factor in the human element. Marketing is a humanistic discipline, meaning that much of what a marketer does depends strongly on the reactions of the people it speaks to.
I like to remind myself regularly of three basic tenets in order to maintain focus:
Planned dynamism: Develop a plan that has predetermined, regular check-ins built into it. Make sure you know what criteria you want to evaluate at each stage of the plan. Try to have consistency of criteria from month to month or quarter to quarter, and try to anticipate what the strategic changes might be. If you anticipate the changes that could happen, and if you have a plan B and plan C in place, you are significantly more prepared. Once you have that plan and its system of checks and balances in place, stick with it. Don’t throw it out unless there are tectonic shifts in the market that require you to do so.
Mutually assured instruction: Speak with the people around you who are going to be affected by the plan, and make sure you have mutual support — broad buy-in — in place before you roll it out. Try to ensure you’re providing a service that reduces friction between your group and the end customer, whether that be B2B, B2C or internal.
Don’t be afraid to be wrong: Being wrong is a fact of life. If you cannot accept this, it’s because your ego is getting in the way. I like to say that I am 100% right eventually, because I don’t mind being wrong and being convinced of a different path. There’s likely more than one successful strategy for every situation and while you don’t want to break, you shouldn’t be afraid to bend a little.
To simplify marketing down to its atomic, core level you need to maintain focus on acquiring and keeping your customers. You need to know what basic message helps you deliver and create the perception of value in the eyes of your customer, and you need to know what the priorities are across the business.
Everything else can become noise. It’s hard to be simple in the face of oncoming challenges, but it’s less difficult to manage if you maintain the focus on your North Star.