Still making up your mind about about your strategies for 2019?

by Monica Vicens-Mattei
February 13, 2019

Here are four strategic trends you want to leverage in the year(s) ahead.

In the blink of an eye we reached February. That means the end of the first quarter is right around the corner. Many of you are readying to roll out the marketing strategies defined in last year’s planning sessions. You are on track, but you have a nagging feeling that something is off.

Do you pull the plug altogether or do you take your chances with strategies you aren’t completely confident in?

No need to panic. This is the perfect time to take a good look at your market plans and make sure you’re taking advantage of these four winning strategies.

 

Customer-centricity

Do your plans revolve around your brand’s greatest products and features, or do they respond to your audience needs, wants and demands?

Do you think you know, or do you truly know the people that buy, influence and use your brand?

Customer-centricity isn’t a new theme. Yet beyond brand messaging, few brands have truly undergone the necessary organizational changes to deliver a meaningful customer-focused experience.

It’s time to walk the talk. Do your plans revolve around self-evangelizing or are you focused on responding to your audience?

Start by asking yourself: how well do I know my audience?

Begin by investing in understanding who your customers are. Know their pains and expectations. As you learn more about them, it is imperative that this information is both shared and used diligently to:

  1. Educate and gain alignment from leadership on what will drive growth
  2. Define how this information impacts your strategies across the enterprise by asking:
    • Is your Research & Development focused on the right innovation?
    • Are your Marketing efforts conveying the right balance of emotional and functional benefits?
    • Is your Sales team equipped to deliver the promises made by your messaging?
  3. Unearth ways for Operations to improve capacity for meeting customer expectations

Beyond holding focus groups or yearly surveys, go out there and talk with them;  sitting in their world, co-creating with them on what’s important, you will learn who they work with, how and why. This gives you the insight juice and ability to align cross-functional teams around the same truth (not fiction).

Companies that move from a customer-aware to a customer-led strategy can expect to see happier employees, more satisfied customers and—what do you know?—increased revenue.

Nothing wrong with that.

 

Connected stories

Raise your hand if you know this story: A brand claims to stand for gender-equality, but its advertising overtly objectifies one gender, its marketing efforts deliver a gender-skewed product portfolio and its Sales team puts different prices on gender-specific versions of the same item. Something seem off there?

Disconnected stories are a problem not only because they are dissonant, but because they seriously erode consumer confidence and can negatively influence purchase decisions.

A powerful strategy is only as good as the cohesiveness and consistency of the efforts built around it. From awareness, to consideration, to engagement and beyond, it is imperative that brands commit to expressing, behaving and delivering what they claim to be.

Many marketers find themselves inadvertently guilty of delivering disconnected stories because they forget to align every marketing asset with the overarching reason their brand exists.

 

Source: Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek doesn’t call it “the golden circle” for nothing. When a brand knows its purpose—the role it plays in the world, or WHY it exists—it’s easier to understand HOW it must behave and WHAT benefits it can and must deliver on.

From consumer facing assets, to internal employee communications, to partner vendor documents, every piece of your organization needs to convey an authentic expression of your business that honors and builds on its truths.

 

Immersive experiences
(Or, Show me, don’t tell me! 2.0)

It’s easy to simplify AR/VR as the technology that enables rich and immersive stories to come to life. What is not readily obvious is the depth of human connection that can be achieved through AR/VR.

The most powerful virtue of AR/VR is its ability to connect emotionally and in context. More than bringing a message to life, AR/VR excels as a tool to understand, model and shape human behavior.

Often referred to as the “empathy machine”, VR has been proven to raise people’s ability to connect through emotions, creating deeper, more meaningful social interactions—the kind relationships are based on.

Far from the gaming conventions we equate AR/VR with, this tool can effectively enable a remote manufacturing site visit, it can completely reenergize complex—and tedious—training programs; but more importantly, it can help your brand share, connect and understand the values that drive the most meaningful interactions. So, don’t just show me—immerse me!

 

Intelligent branding

Technology continues to expand the platforms through which we collect data, as well as the kind of data we can collect. What was once invisible to us is now tangible, measurable and predictable.

Many brands rely on self-reported customer data to make key business decisions around branding and customer experience.  Forrester reports, the marriage between neuroscience, psychology and behavioral economics, is enabling brands to capture a more accurate picture of what customers think, feel and experience with every brand interaction.

The immediate opportunity for brands is to rethink the design of their current brand health trackers. Simple modifications to a questionnaire can include implicit association probes to help determine how perceptions will impact decision making. More complex applications, like Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI), can visualize exactly the areas of the brain that become active with each interaction. Helping brands model what success looks like enables them to craft interactions that replicate it.

While not all strategies may be right for you at this time, they all springboard off one key strategic pillar: know your audience. If your plans are built around your customers’ needs, you are off to a great start in 2019.