This week, I spent some time with Adobe’s recent report, Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night? [PDF]. It was an online study of 1,000 marketers, including both digital marketers and marketing generalists, ranging from marketing staff to high-level decision-makers. As one might anticipate, this report chronicles and quantifies marketers’ anxieties about their profession.
The Uncertainty In Marketing
Reviewing the Adobe findings, you’ll see that marketer self-doubt (and doubt of one’s team or department) extends to whether one has a grasp on their audience, the right tool set, the ability to track and measure, and the capacity to understand and optimize ROI – and then, in turn, be well armed enough to inform one’s own company business strategy. That’s a load keeping marketers up at night.
While the answer may not be counting sheep, I found myself wondering if there couldn’t be a simple mantra, a universal idea or thread that could help a marketer persevere.
Coincidentally, in the same week, I attended a wine tasting and short presentation by long-time experiential agency executive and now author and consultant, Stan Phelps. He’s just written a book called, “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?“ In the book, Phelps explores 12 clear-cut ways to win customers and influence word of mouth. These ways include everything from sampling to a focus on first and last impressions; from added service to follow-through.
Yes, Phelps was discussing customer experience — a living form of marketing, dealing with touch points and live, human interaction. Phelps has worked with major brands in all categories over the course of his career, focusing on experience in every sense of the word.
Experience As A Mantra
It struck me, as I considered the distressed marketer in the digital age — practically crippled by an obligation to secure the right tools, systems, partners, understanding and staff – to execute on today’s marketing mix… that experience is the key.
Experience is the most extensible idea we have. If we take an expanded view of the term as a concept — we can apply the principles of customer experience to any given touch point, any given instance of our brand, wherever we hope to engage, where we hope to invoke experience.
The essential nature of “experience” applies to all of us marketers (not just customer service mavens and experiential marketers) and to every part of the equation: systems, strategy, plan, mix, creative development, assets and reporting. It means that strategically, up front, we imagine how our audience should experience our brand and our products, if we set the right course. We make actual experience an essential part of the strategic consideration.
It also means that we develop creative with the human experience in mind. We vividly imagine the visual experience, the mechanical experience and the actions they will take if they have the right experience with our creative unit. The examples of pondering our consumer’s experience and then putting our sense of that potential experience into plan and action are only as limited as what we take the time to imagine.
If we were to universally commit to the idea and import of customer experience, we would know that:
- We have to deeply understand our audience, both current and potential/future, as far as demographics, lifestyle, modes and mindset — and invest in whatever systems, tools and partners can help us establish this usable level of understanding.
- Even at a high level, our guiding strategies must reflect first and foremost an understanding of our audience, their days and their lives and their modes when they are in different channels or utilizing various platforms. This informs the rest.
- We must consider how a consumer or an audience would want to consider our brand, products and services within their media consumption, and therefore, which media placements, outlets, platforms, networks make the most sense.
- We must extend that sensibility to the creative experience, carefully thinking through visuals, messaging, calls-to-action, interaction, animation or engagement mechanics within static, rich and video creative units — assuring that we have the most strategic ad units possible to assure the right tactical, emotionally evocative experience for our audience.
- We should be studying our engagement metrics along the way, in a way that we can glean clues on what kind of experiences (visuals, animations, interactions, messages, placements, etc.) are generating the best, most profitable results for our brand.
- The idea of experience extends to the way we train our staff, strategize across functions (media, creative, analytics, etc.), hold our brainstorms as a group, analyze and optimize our results — and report on them internally. Experience is an internal mantra and a commitment as well.
Amid our distress, the idea of tuning into experience — and looking for opportunities to improve, replicate and scale effective experiences — is a powerful one. Experience: one word that — in this interactive, rich and data-driven world where strategy and automation can and do co-exist — says it all.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.