“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits their needs and sells itself” (Peter Drucker)
Marketing as a vehicle for lead generation is one of the main challenges in 21st century business. In an era of digital revolution, many options have become available to organisations. However, the increase in the number of channels to reach customers has also increased complexity. The main difficulties currently experienced by marketing teams are:
1. Lack of visibility of the market and its real needs
2. Content development is not aligned with customer interests
3. Inefficient processes for content generation
4. Marketing strategies that do not include all the components of the digital channels
Visibility of the Market and its Needs
Having visibility of the market and its consumers through data collection and processing is an essential element for the growth of any business. However, obtaining this information systematically and frequently, with the collection of the right insights is a skill that is not commonplace in all organisations.
Currently, only 11% of companies collect market information regularly. The impact of not having this information can be devastating, as critical market trends may go unnoticed that could result in a loss of market share or even bankruptcy. Examples of this are Nokia and Blockbuster, companies that have not been able to keep up with market changes and have therefore lost their leading position.
The difficulty in obtaining useful and relevant information is primarily due to the inability to target prospecting of the most appropriate segments, with segmentation being a challenge itself. Secondly, the information gathering process may make it impossible to interpret the gap between the value proposal and what consumers perceive to be valuable. Finally, the processing of the data collected does not always result in relevant information, not only because of the limited resources and analytical capacity to process large amounts of data, but also because of the lack of successful use cases to provide guidance.
Valuable Content Development
Traditionally, marketing focuses on sharing content that reflects the expertise of the product/service provider. This type of content, known as thought leadership content, was recognised as the most effective content for sales conversion. However, the paradigm is now different. Content that challenges the customer, shows them their real difficulties, and quantifies the benefits they may be missing out on, has 34 times more influence on the purchasing decision than traditional content.
The multichannel nature of today's markets offers many advantages to the consumer, who can obtain information and perform transactions on several different platforms. However, it also brings disadvantages, one of which is the excessive exposure to advertising, often with little value content. This excessive exposure leads to a lack of interest in the consumer, which makes it impossible to distinguish the quality of the products or services advertised.
The quality of the content generated, besides the high impact on the number of leads, also has a relevant influence on the institutional image of the organisation. As consumers increasingly pay attention to corporate policies that relate to sustainability or equal opportunities, it is crucial to ensure that the content generated is aligned with the corporate image of the organisation.
Content Generation Process
In order to keep the numerous channels of communication with the customer relevant, organisations must ensure a strong digital presence, with constant production of valuable content. The production of this content should come in parallel with physical marketing events, digital campaigns, institutional content production or public relations activities, often all supported by the same team. Thus, the efficiency of all these processes becomes critical to ensure quality results.
Since marketing activities are a combination of creative process and project management, the application of traditional management methodologies such as the waterfall methodology becomes unfeasible. The constant need to combine the content generated with current events makes the process much less linear than the teams would like. In fact, 55% of the organisations point out as one of their main difficulties not only the coordination, but also the efficient hiring of the marketing teams.
Marketing Strategies Adapted to the Digital Era
Digital evolution presents opportunities but also difficulties for the organisations. The consumer is no longer just the one who buys, but also the one who publicly expresses the experience with the brand. Thus, a consumer can easily switch between promoter or brand detractor, praising the importance of ensuring an excellent experience to each customer. The demand of these consumers is also higher than in the non-digital era, as they have a large amount of information available and expect to be able to access the product/service at any time, on any platform. They expect an immediate communication with the organisations and that all the points of contact up to the sale take place in a fast and customised way.
Managing the different online channels has proven to be as difficult, or more difficult than managing the offline contact. Constant monitoring of consumer feedback becomes a requirement and the after-sales service an area that companies need to reinforce. In addition to this change, it is now necessary to have resources dedicated to researching new communication channels and constantly innovating. It is crucial for organisations to redefine their strategy, contemplating a digital approach for the customer, available 24 hours a day, and through which it is possible to have a positive experience, regardless of the means of contact used.
The New Paradigm
Despite the difficulties presented being transversal to the organisations, there are several cases of success in their resolution. Southwest Airlines was the first airline to perform low-cost flights. This company identified a business opportunity in an unexplored segment, and today it is one of the biggest and most successful American airlines. Red Bull chose a marketing approach that focused not on the promotion of the energy drink itself, but on the lifestyle of those who drink it. It associated itself with athletes and adrenaline enthusiasts.
These companies invest in collecting market insights, getting to know their customers and their customs. These companies are experts in segmentation and data analysis, being able to identify the gaps in their value proposition. Their marketing content triggers the customer's interest and curiosity, since instead of highlighting the characteristics of a product, they sell the customer a dream, an emotion, or an experience.
IBM, GM, and SAP are some of the companies that have embraced the latest way of producing content: challenger marketing. In this one, the focus of the marketer is to break the current paradigms of the consumer regarding his/her business and to educate him/her in a new perspective about his/her own difficulties. In this way, after awakening the consumer's interest and providing precious insights, the sale comes in an almost organic way. Teams working with the challenger marketing format are also more effective, reaching lead targets while reducing the amount of content produced.
Not only the content, but also the way marketing teams are managed has evolved. More and more organisations are adopting agile work management methodologies, working with design sprints. In this work method, the teams are continuously identifying opportunities in their offer, and adapt their value proposition in an agile way. They perform quick market tests and evaluate the results, which allows them to iterate the strategy, adjusting it to changes in the consumers profile. The design sprints allow them to achieve breakthrough results in a short period of time, as they focus the teams through a structured and agile work method. Lego, Uber and Airbnb are some of the companies that have adopted this work methodology.
The implementation of digital and traditional marketing tools will be enhanced if the work on marketing visibility, challenger content generation and effective design sprints work is established. The presence in the different online channels with aligned content significantly increases the number of people that an organisation can reach. By breaching physical boundaries, teams must adapt the content generated and the value proposition to the consumers in every geography. Constant access to information must be used by organisations to leverage their revenue, just as consumers do to ensure they get the best deal.
The use of tools in a separate and asynchronous way will not deliver the results that organisations desire. In order to face the constant changes in the market and ensure that marketing is really a business generation engine for organisations, paradigms must be broken and a new way of working must be adopted, ranging from the organisation of the teams to the strategic goals.