Bluebarn in the Press – Thoughts on Marketing in September’s ‘Comms Dealer’

cd-septWhy Marketing Technology needs your attention

It is forecast that by 2016 the Chief Marketing Officer will control more of the IT spend than the CIO, as businesses look for ICT to deliver competitive advantage. Why?

In the last two decades, modern marketing has undergone a transformation via the internet.

As with any technology-led transformation, the early stage was a lot of hype. Analysts predicted how it would revolutionise business with the repeated mantra of “disintermediation”.

No-one will deny that established information and directory industries were disrupted. However, mostly it was business as usual with a few productivity gains via CRM apps like Salesforce.com. Now, a fundamental change in the business of marketing has occurred. It has taken its time, but the internet is attaining its promised disruptive impact, and the point of impact is Marketing.

Marketing used to be on the margins . Outside of consumer brands and the Mad Men on Manhattan, marketing wasn’t mainstream. In one of my previous companies it was termed the ‘cutting out and colouring in’ department. The internet has changed that forever by offering unprecedented powers to your customers.

Businesses once had an asymmetrical information advantage over most of their customers. Running the sales process as a Command and Control operation. Spinning PR off its well-oiled axis. Confident that prohibitive “search costs” would discourage most prospects from hunting for better choices. The internet has destroyed that advantage in a pincer movement offensive that Wellington would be proud of.

Offensive 1: Search. Anyone can publish anything at any time to any device, to all intents and purposes for free, and search engines make it available globally in a matter of seconds.

Offensive 2: Social Media. We are now connected through social networks, sharing information continuously and instantaneously with peers across huge numbers of influential, self-referencing communities.

To quote another great English battlefield commander (via Shakespeare) ‘The game is afoot….’

Your prospects now learn an incredible amount about you — and not just from you – but colleagues, influencers, competitors, and — most significantly — other prospects. What’s more, they fervently share their experiences back up and into the network. This pincer movement in information and communication are revolutionary, putting huge enterprises at the mercy of MumsNet.

What are the implications for today’s comms business?

Today, your prospects and customers don’t just visit websites to obtain information. They go to interact with applications which are a key part of your product or service, such as support, provisioning or billing. For a growing number of comms providers, online services ARE the business — particularly with the move to hosted comms and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models – and the need to provide a compelling experience is compounded by rapid change in technology and fierce competition, often from unexpected sources. Your prospects and customers are judging you by the quality of these experiences – and they are not doing it in the privacy of their office.

If you want to build and keep a great brand and grow in your target markets, you need to deliver great experiences at every stage in the customer’s journey with you — from the first touch onward.

3 key currents — open information, open communications, and customer experience — have shaped today’s marketing battlefield, and it’s now the marketing department in the Ops Room. That starts with understanding your customer, shaping your proposition and developing compelling content to share and be shared. Beyond that , there are a wealth of tools and applications emerging that will make your marketing initiatives faster, more consistent and better informed but that’s another war story.

Business leader and author Peter F. Drucker famously remarked, “Business has only two functions — innovation and marketing.” 

Our industry is innovative by nature. Your marketing now has to step up to the challenge and become battle-ready.

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