Expectations from today’s marketers are increasing almost every day, and they are coming at us from every angle. We have to fine-tune our technical skills, and continually up-date ourselves on trends and the community’s needs. Once valuable insights are gained from the research we have carried out, there is yet again something new already waiting to be discovered.
In such a fast-paced environment, marketers have become increasingly important for every organisation. We are responsible for getting the right attention, from the right people, at the right time. In simple terms, we have to find out first what the company’s mission is, what its core values are, and communicate them to the right segment of the market at that very moment they are ready to make a purchase decision. Easy, isn’t?
Of course, you might say, your life is much easier now that you have all the big data to hand and all you have to do is interpret and implement them in your marketing strategy. What is challenging about that?
Numbers don’t show real people, and they are biased
Whatever kinds of metrics you use, they will be biased. Google or Facebook statistics won’t show real people, only their preferences based on metrics prepared for the engine. Mystery shoppers will represent only a few people who decided to take part in a poll and fill in the form. Let’s take feedback for example. Some organisations rely heavily on it, but according to commonly available researches, people are more likely to give feedback when they are extremely unhappy, or delighted, with the brand experience, and not very likely when they are simply satisfied. If you rely on statistics too much, you might miss the bigger picture, or simply – the opportunity to meet real people and listen to their preferences. Of course, you can rely on simple metrics such as customer satisfaction surveys, retention rate, or sales volume, but none will show you either the customer’s whole picture, or help with predicting trends.
You must have the right instinct and a good sense of your target audience
As we specialise in the ethnic sector of the market, we know our Poles best. Our knowledge comes from consistent research, community and media relations, all of which are unique to us. However, good perception of a target community is not enough. We have to stay well informed about everything around us; politics, cultural initiatives, social trends. We must be one step ahead in predicting the social preferences aligned with cultural values and global trends. Polish people are very demanding and they need more attention than any other nation that we have worked with. It is not only good quality that they expect, they also expect to be treated as a special nation with a unique set of skills important for the community at large, and they are very suspicious of new products and services targeted at them.
To be a good marketer, you have to always stay ahead of the trends and remain relevant. It is very difficult to be creative for the same type of audience, with the same type of offer. Currently, video and graphic mediums are increasing in popularity, while traditional PR articles almost don’t exist anymore. Who could have predicted a few years ago that instead of well-crafted press releases we would become experts in video marketing, specialising in authentic brand messages with an emotional connection with the audience? Who could have said that financial services, auctioning websites or transportation companies would talk about love, the value of friendship, and enhance a sense of belonging? Nothing is obvious these days. Marketers must stay well- informed, and take into account a multidisciplinary approach. To be a creative marketer in current times, you should be not only a marketing graduate, but also a bit of a psychologist, neuroscientist, art connoisseur, foodie, graphic designer, webmaster, and of course, businessman.
Proving return on marketing investment
Many organisations still expect proof from marketers that investing in marketing makes sense only when it brings good ROI over the duration of the campaign. Unfortunately, it is not always the case, especially when the marketing budget is very low and doesn’t have an immediate impact on a customer’s purchase decision – for example, there is no main stream media advertising and the brand is unknown to the audience. It takes time to build brand credibility, to establish relevant dialogue with your audience. The role of a marketing campaign in this case should focus on brand awareness and credibility; the goals for marketers should be focused on communication objectives, rather than on sales. On the other hand, any form of advertising should result in increased sales figures. If it doesn’t work, it means that there is still room for adjustments and marketers are the first force to identify what is going wrong – whether the product itself is not appealing; there are some adjustments to be made within the sales force or process of selling, or the promotion itself.
Staying in line with a budget
In today’s world when profit margins are usually tight, when markets are deeply penetrated by almost every single type of offer and companies need to find alternative ways to secure a larger share of the market, the budgets for marketing campaigns are not rising in line with demand. In fact, we have to find other ways of connecting to the audience, and remain extremely vigilant when it comes to the budget. Although social marketing has developed rapidly over recent years, it doesn’t mean that we can magic free of charge social engagement every time, and everywhere. The common misconception is that marketing is solely responsible for sales conversions, and the marketing budget should rely on it. The better the conversion, the higher the marketing budget – is one of the biggest mistakes an organisation can make. The fact is that a large majority of marketing budgets should grow to make the difference when the brand is struggling to gain a relevant and predicted market share. Not investing in marketing is like closing your path to success. At the end of the day, marketing is the art of communication. There is no success without dialogue, listening, and implementing changes in any relationship, otherwise it is just a straight line to divorce.
Data analytics access
Big data is a huge asset for all types of organisation and working without them is like walking blindfolded in a big race. Not knowing anything about the audience and relying on anticipation is the big sin of many marketers. Although we might think that something is interesting for, let’s say, women of middle age, Google statistics might prove otherwise. We have seen many businesses failing in their marketing efforts by predicting customer behavioural patterns rather than checking their journey – for example, during test Facebook ads campaign. We are lucky enough to have access to such data not available a few years ago. It should be used wisely and generally, in order to really understand an audience and to tailor marketing strategies. But, using such a set of data might be challenging when it shows inconsistent behavioural patterns, and you don’t have much time to analyse it.
Convincing other people in the organisation to follow your plan
Let’s start with the CEO, Board of Directors, and the whole management team. You have to persuade them to run marketing activities that are aligned with the brand message. Then there is the sales force and all those engaged in creating and selling the product. You not only have to be assertive, but also brave enough to face difficult questions and press staff into collaborating and following your ideas. And last, but not least, we should make all those involved accountable for their actions. Very often we face the problem of a sales team that doesn’t follow our instructions – for example, proving outstanding customer service or dealing positively with all complaints. This can result in higher than expected customer retention and generating new expenditure in order to convince new prospects. Unfortunately, many managers blame marketers for customer retention, not taking into consideration that the fault may lay elsewhere. We are the first people to contact the audience, and usually the last when a customer complains. PR disasters are not created by delighted clients, but by unhappy ones. If the marketer is to blame for miscommunication, then the whole brand perception fails. The responsibility that we carry on our shoulders is invaluable, but the job itself, although very challenging, should also be very satisfying. At the end of the day, we are creators of interactive dialogues between brand creators and their consumers – we listen, we act, and we change the world.
Margaret A. Szwed