Modern Marketing Strategy

So have you ever seen Life on Mars? For those unfamiliar with it, this iconic 2006 TV series charts the progress of Detective Chief Inspector Sam Tyler who is thrust back into 1973 after a road accident. Laying aside the logistics of how this has happened – the opening credits pose the question whether he is mad, in a coma, or travelling in time – the difference between the culture in which he finds himself compared to the one he has left is mind-blowing!

In 1973 it is seemingly acceptable to smoke and drink at work, to demean women and encourage others to do so, and to accept and cover up corruption as part of everyday life. People do not have mobile phones, Internet access or dozens of TV channels to choose from: in fact the BBC Test card featuring the little girl in red and her scary clown accomplice feature heavily in Sam Tyler’s night terrors. The stark social history of the whole series is made even more poignant by the constant interweaving of the title track Life on Mars, now immortalised by the untimely departure of David Bowie.

But what about marketing we wonder. Where on earth was that in 1973? Just as the detectives in Life on Mars question Sam Tyler’s sanity as he refers to developments in technology and medicine and forensics that they cannot even begin to conceptualise … what would 1973 marketers think of the way things are now? When we live in a world of constant change and evolve with the times it can be difficult to assess objectively just how high are the waves of sea change that we are riding. But let’s take a step back and look at three developments in marketing that would be a complete surprise to marketers of 1973!

It’s all about Data (and no – he’s not a character from Star Trek!)

Our use of data in marketing has exploded over the past few years! Any marketing strategy worth its salt is based on data analysis: no longer is anything left to gut instinct or guess work. Data can give us a breakdown of customers and who is spending what and where that will enable us to establish our target market more effectively. We can find out which percentage of customers is contributing which percentage of revenue, how loyal and regular customers are, and therefore how to position our marketing to these customer groupings.

Data analysis enables us to take a holistic approach to marketing strategy and identify objectively where the priorities lie. It can enable us to address issues such as how we win back customers that appear to be defecting and how can we recognise and reward those loyal customers who are spending more money with us. With an increased understanding of how customers usually behave, a business can confidently develop such different strategies over a variety of platforms to achieve the desired objectives.

The wrong kind of customer!

Hmm… slightly reminiscent of train companies’ excuses but there actually is such a thing! A one off customer is the wrong kind of customer. Yes it means that you have reached and converted that person but if all they ever do is buy one thing from you then they are not giving you a good rate of return on all the time, effort and money you put into reaching them in the first place. This is why many businesses think they are doing well when they have a large customer database, but in effect most of the customers might be one off purchasers who are losing them money.

For many companies offering products and services that are not unique, it is very difficult to secure customer loyalty. It is therefore essential to use your data to establish the customer lifetime value (CLV): to know how many first time customers become a repeat and how many you end up losing.

You can then follow up those one-off customers in various ways – such as surveys or discounts or rewards – to drive a repeat purchase. This enables the customer’s preferences and likely behaviour to be identified and ongoing content delivered to them can then be tailored accordingly. By establishing what works for different customers you can use the power of technology to make them feel valued and special.

Make things personal

Combining the two above developments together results in a common thread: personalisation is the key to effective modern day marketing. In today’s multichannel world it is essential that marketers use data to analyse their customer base and ensure that the communication a customer receives is relevant to them. Not only that but the customer experience of every interaction with the business has to be top notch so that brand loyalty is maintained.

Data analysis should enable us to form a complete view of a customer and then ensure that they receive and enjoy the same personalised experience regardless of the channels or devices they are using. This multichannel approach enables us to offer a more holistic experience to the customer and to increasingly recognise their behaviour across different devices and channels. It gives marketers an ongoing opportunity to drive loyalty and repeat purchases through relevant and personalised marketing campaigns.

So, how does the data-driven, multichannel, personalised marketing approach of today compare with 1973? We found the following definition of strategic marketing interesting, from Peter Drucker (a leading American writer on the subject of management theory and practice) in 1973:

“Strategic marketing as seen as a process consisting of: analysing environmental, market competitive and business factors affecting the corporation and its business units, identifying market opportunities and threats and forecasting future trends in business areas of interest for the enterprise, and participating in setting objectives and formulating corporate and business unit strategies. Selecting market target strategies for the product-markets in each business unit, establishing marketing objectives as well as developing, implementing and managing the marketing program positioning strategies in order to meet market target needs”.

All well and good but one significant word missing ….. “Customer”! Times have definitely changed since 1973 – in more ways that we can possibly touch on in this article – but we’re glad that the customer is now at the heart of marketing strategy and that we have all the technology available at our fingertips to win their hearts and minds.

Author: Robert Walker