Monday Mornings with Madison


Until about a decade or so ago, a company’s ability to influence the buying process at large was handled by its marketing department and the primary strategy was push marketing. Influential messaging was delivered in a monologue. Manufacturers, retailers and service providers pushed products and services at consumers using a finite number of touch points. Communication was a one-way street. Print ads in newspapers and magazines delivered pithy slogans to a predetermined circulation. Television commercials ran on a handful of networks. Radio commercials aired to highly targeted demographic audiences. Billboards touted slogans on select highways, train routes and buses. Direct mail circulars were delivered by post to specific addresses. Even with the advent of computers and the Internet, websites served as glorified brochures. Across those touch points, it was relatively easy to keep tight, centralized control of marketing and branding. Results were measurable and accountability was possible.

From Monologue to Dialogue

While computers and the information age began to change how people obtained information for the last 25 years, the rise of social media sites and the proliferation of mobile smartphones and computers in the last dozen years have finally, fundamentally shifted the way consumers shop and buy. Consumers now use digital video recorders to fast-forward through TV commercials and consume video content on mobile devices and sites such as YouTube. Billboards alongside train lines and bus routes struggle to capture the attention of people absorbed by the screens of their smartphones. Satellite dishes and cable providers deliver thousands of channels, many without commercial interruptions. XM radio provides uninterrupted programming to listeners. Magazines and newspapers are struggling to stay relevant as people increasingly get their news and information online. Smartphone apps and social media sites are increasingly providing consumers with purer and easier ways to get information, shop and buy.

7 Rules of Engagement

Welcome to the age of engagement where the marketing rules are different. How so? In today’s age of engagement, consumers are more empowered, critical, demanding, and price-sensitive. Consumers now demand a very different experience when dealing with the companies from whom they buy. Here are the seven rules to guide marketing in today’s age of engagement.

  1. Objective Quality – Pithy slogans and slick ads will not substitute quality. Consumers demand quality and, now more than ever, seek objective advice about products and services. Customers won’t tolerate shoddy products and sub-par service, and will look to others for cues on quality.
  2. Genuine – Consumers want real brands that care; brands that want to form relationships with them.  They want brands that talk “with” instead of “at” them.
  3. Dialogue – Marketing has evolved from one-way push marketing to two-way collaborative marketing. Companies and consumers are now in a dialogue.
  4. Pervasive - Consumers are turning in vast and growing numbers to social networks, blogs, online review forums, and other channels for information. The touch points consumers use to interact with companies have and will continue to multiply. Companies need to engage customers where they are.
  5. Brand Integration – Customers today no longer separate marketing from the product. They don’t separate marketing from their in-store or online experience. Marketing is now a fundamental part of the product and the experience. Because marketing is the company, marketing must be involved in every aspect of the business, start to finish. Marketing and branding must be seamlessly integrated into every part of the consumer experience from their first interaction until long after the sale and delivery.
  6. Customer Engagement, Not Ownership – Everyone in a company is part of the customer-engagement engine. Thus, everyone in a company is both a salesperson and a marketer. Marketing no longer falls only on the shoulders of the marketing department. Customers are no longer ‘owned’ by individuals or silos in the company, such as sales, marketing or customer service.
  7. Leadership – The Chief Marketing Officer is evolving into the Chief Engagement Officer. The CMO’s new role is to establish priorities and stimulate dialogue between the organization and the public, and to design, build, operate and revitalize cutting-edge customer-engagement strategies. Because there are multiple touch points and interactions between companies and consumers, there must be a comprehensive, cohesive plan to guide and oversee those interactions that permeate across all departments and divisions.

As companies head into the last quarter of the year and begin planning for 2012, it would behoove all to remember that in the age of engagement, marketing’s job is to help the entire company focus and understand when, where and how to reach consumers and engage them throughout their experience interacting with the company.

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

© 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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