Traditional marketing techniques deliver ever-decreasing results. It's time for a review of how to connect and reach customers, says Robert Craven.
Most marketing doesn't work. It is progressively more expensive and results seem to be harder to come by. Meanwhile most marketing is dull, unremarkable, unfocused, doesn’t focus on benefits, positioning is wrong, customer understanding is technically and statistically correct but wrong and most is simply over-analysed. There is no great commitment, no great customer engagement and cost of client acquisition is rising. It just doesn’t work like it used to. And that is a fact.
I would like to construct an argument.
- It is clear that most 'traditional' marketing does not work. Despite what they tell you!
- Despite what they tell you, most firms are falling short of customer expectations especially in terms of customer service.
- Only 10% of any market actually buys on price despite what people tell you.
- Customers leave you because you don’t appear to care about them.
- Customers choose you because of your engagement with them.
- You can get away with murder!
I am more than happy to provide evidence for all of the above but let's just take these points as read. The marketing landscape is looking pretty fragile.
So, what is stand-out marketing?
For me, 'stand-out' is about challenging and shaking the industry (and not simply about gimmicks) and 'marketing' is about revenue generating (which it should be). So, 'stand-out marketing' is inventing (new) methods to disrupt the normal way your industry conducts business.
We can now map out how to make your marketing stand out.
How to start creating some stand-out, disruptive marketing
To improve your whole approach to marketing you need to ask five questions of your customers and your business. This can be a quick’n’dirty exercise (grab a room with a flipchart and some of the key people in the business) or it can be constructed in a more methodical manner incorporating some research.
Ask the following five questions:
- What really hacks off your customers?
- Why can't you sell more stuff? A clue: lazy marketing. Another: you look/sound/talk/sell identical to your competitors. Another: the adverts no longer work; word-of-mouth is what matters. Another: shouting louder doesn’t attract attention any more.
- What is your job from the customer’s point of view? A clue: it is almost certainly NOT what you do. People do not buy what you do; they buy what you do does for them. They buy the afters, what is left after you've 'delivered'.
- What is the usual way of doing things? A clue: the usual way is almost certainly boring, dull and predictable.
- What could/should you be doing?
A few more clues might be required here.
You could sell on low price, high price, no price, payment by results, by being the best/slowest/fastest/first/best... I am sure you get the idea.
When everyone goes zig, you could go zag.
After all, why should people bother to buy from you when they can buy from the competition, especially when the competition might well be cheaper or faster or friendlier? To blindly follow the pack is a mug’s game; in a team of husky dogs pulling a sledge, the only ones with a good view are the ones at the front!
What I refer to as stand-out or disruptive marketing is an alternative to the way you do things now. In your heart of hearts you know that you could be doing so much more. To quote Jerry Garcia: "You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do."
It works for Innocent, Tom's shoes, Happy Computers, Ben and Jerry's, TED talks, Hobbs House Bakery, Dans Le Noir and Dorset Cereals. These are all businesses with strong ethical motivations who are really well-connected to their customers. Maybe it will work for you?
Robert Craven is founder of The Directors Centre