We are witnessing a veritable arms race in marketing technologies. On the surface, they would seem to give any marketer a competitive advantage. But without adding a few key ingredients, these technologies risk creating more commoditization and audience apathy.
In the past decade, a countless number of vendors and capabilities have emerged in four distinct classes that promise to make marketing more scientific, efficient and profitable, and unlock the holy grail of ROI:
- Digital: First it was email, SEO/SEM and blogging tools such as Hubspot and Constant Contact. Now, content aggregation tools like Curata and Paper.li have allowed everyone to become a publisher, sell ads and measure response rates.
- Social: Social media monitoring and publishing tools like HootSuite, Brandwatch and Synthesio let any company monitor, react in real time, and engage influencers and followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Mobile: Countless mobile advertising platforms give marketers the ability to precisely profile users by device, location and buying history to present geo-targeted and real-time offers.
- Data/Analytics: DataHero, Marketo and other powerful data-mining and integrated campaign-management platforms help extract ever-more detailed audience profiles from all the above touch points to coordinate and target campaigns and messages as buyers move through the sales funnel.
Welcome to the Weapons Bazaar!
This arms race promises to give marketers the unprecedented ability to put the perfect offer in front of the perfect person at the perfect time on the perfect device.
There’s just one problem: EVERYONE has access to the same tools and tactics. The technology itself has given everyone the same advantage, which means no one has any advantage at all.
And with everyone possessing such enhanced communications firepower, we've created a marketplace so filled with noise that audiences are naturally driven to tune out. Or worse – leave – as soon as another company with a better data or price-driven offer comes along.
So how can marketers leverage the power of these technologies with real and lasting competitive advantage? The answer lies in deploying them upon two foundational elements: (1) a brand that stands for something greater than your product or service… something the buyer can connect with emotionally and that is a reflection of them as much as your company; and (2) an operational culture that is aligned with that brand, where everyone lives the brands values and displays them in every interaction with every audience, be it customers, prospects, partners or employees.
Deployed upon such a foundation, marketers can finally realize the full potential of these marketing technologies: not simply to create a one-time transaction, but to strengthen and remind audiences of the bonds that connect them… and to ward off the attempts of others to breaks those bonds with a one-time transaction.