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Digital Marketing: The New Rules of Being Cool

Whether its email, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos or television (I heard the other day that people apparently still use those, on occasion) we are constantly bombarded by information. The vast majority of this information is white noise; stuff that we don’t want, don’t need, or don’t care about.  This makes the task of marketing to all of us particularly difficult, as it becomes ever-harder to get noticed above the digital hullabaloo.


To this end, I thought I’d offer a few recommendations for how to remain engaged with your customers through this increasingly difficult environment.


Keep it fresh, keep it moving

When I buy a book on Amazon, I am immediately offered four hundred other things that I might be interested in buying.  I buy deodorant at my local grocery and they immediately give me a coupon to get my muffler fixed.  I buy a tank full of gas for my car and I get a discount on a movie.  I love all of this variety and surprise in my life.  But now I expect this from every customer experience that I have, every day.  As a result, when I go to my dentist and the only flavor of toothpaste that she has is mint, I’m disappointed. “Mint? No thank you. I’m in the mood for gooseberry marmalade toothpaste, today. And make it snappy, I’m in a hurry.”


Your customer’s expectations are high and they have a myriad of choices. To remain relevant to your customers, you need to keep moving.  Keep changing your messaging, stay fresh and above all make sure that you deliver some sort of value through your messaging. It may feel like giving away something for nothing, but if you can rise above the din of the herd you have a much better chance of catching, and keeping, the attention of your customers.


All press is NOT good press…go for great press

There is a small yet distinct difference between being noteworthy and being notorious.  Lady Gaga and Jimmy Fallon understand this subtle difference. Miley Cyrus and  Kanye West? Not so much. One of the tricks in marketing these days is to forgo the fear and to take risks because you really can’t afford not to. Pull out all the stops, and dare to become and remain noteworthy aka great. But avoid becoming notorious.  Yes, it requires balancing on a razor’s edge, and in all likelihood you WILL make mistakes here.  It’s ok. When you do err, remain humble.  A little bit of tongue in cheek humor helps too.  Telling disgruntled customers, “Well, just don’t hold the iPhone 4 that way” isn’t going to cut it. To the contrary, a little self-effacing humor is frequently the best approach to turn a negative message into a positive one. Sainsbury’s, a U.K. grocery store, did this to great effect when a customer complained about his chicken sandwich over Twitter. Anyone who employs Hulk Hogan has my business.


Exceed expectations. Consistently.


A few months ago, my neighborhood lost power.  I logged into my utility company’s website, with relatively low expectations of finding out what was going on. To my surprise, the company had an app that provided real-time status of any power outages in their service area, including those houses and neighborhoods that were impacted. As an impacted customer, I could sign up for text message alerts that would keep me posted of any updates to their repair efforts.


I did so, and went to dinner on the other side of town. I returned home about two hours later and the lights were still out.  However, fifteen minutes later they suddenly came on.  About ten seconds later I received a text message letting me know that service had been restored.


Now I was pretty impressed by this.  A couple of months later when I had a billing question I figured that it would take only a minute or two to get my question answered. Unfortunately, it turned out that appification had not yet reached every aspect of the company’s processes, and I had to spend hours on an actual phone trying to get my issue resolved.  This is one of the dangers of appification.  Once you get on that treadmill of innovation, the pace keeps getting faster and customer expectations keep getting higher. 


Trust but Verify

Marketing has been, and will likely remain, an intuitive business.   Marketers have an intuitive sense for what will attract and retain customers’ attention, and people who are truly talented in this regard are worth their weight in gold.  Indeed, slogans like “Just Do It” are simple, powerful and generate about $10 billion in brand value per word.  In our world awash in relentless messages the ability to create such ‘stickiness’ can be the difference between an effective marketing campaign or a tremendous waste of time and money.


But the world of marketing is rapidly changing.  The availability of massive quantities of real-time customer information means that marketing can become more fact-based, more scientific.  Indeed, the audience targeting allowed by all of this information makes fact-based marketing an imperative. This doesn’t take away from the importance of marketing intuition, but it does change how marketing decisions can and should be made. 


As president Ronald Reagan famously said about working with the Soviet government, trust but verify.  This too applies to marketing in the social media era.  Coming up with good advertising campaigns is still an art and you need to trust your gut as to what might be an effective message.  However, it is becoming critically important that you verify these gut instincts with real-time analytics of the massive quantities of data being generated by your audience.  Together, these two elements can make for incredibly effective marketing. Not to mention, it’ll make it easier to appease your stakeholders who may not trust your gut as much as you do.


Autonomy’s multi-channel analytics solution helps validate and flesh out your gut instinct. With it, you can develop deep insights into your customers’ wants, needs and interests and deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time, through the right channel in order to make the most of your marketing spend.


I don’t care if you’re selling cars or checking accounts, diapers or cancer drugs, life insurance or Life Savers. You are competing with every other business in the world for a slice of the seconds and minutes of each customer’s day. So if you don’t think that you’re competing with the likes of Amazon, Nike, or Google in this regard I guess that you’re not! (being competitive, that is). 

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About the Author
Chris Surdak is a Subject Matter Expert on Information Governance, analytics and eDiscovery for HP Autonomy. He has over 20 years of consul...

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