It's not even Halloween (despite the abundance of "pumpkin spice" everything on store shelves), but smart marketers are already thinking about next year. With so many channels, it's easy to become paralyzed by choice, but we literally can't afford to maintain the status quo without examining our current results and our audience's ever-changing preferences.
Marketing professor and agency marketer James Loomstein is a frequent presenter who urges marketers to focus their efforts on the consideration phase of the buyer's journey. Managing Partner at Rogue Marketing, James has more than 15 years' experience in strategic planning, digital marketing, and consumer insights.
I invited James to Marketing Smarts to discuss the skills marketers need to succeed, why the "consideration phase" of the buyer's journey needs your attention now, and how marketers should allocate their budget for 2017.
Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with James:
Marketing executives today have it way harder than "Mad Men" (12:23): "I think it's unfair to be a marketing director today or a chief marketing officer today.... If you were a chief marketing officer in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s and somebody said, 'Hey, we're launching a product: Here's your budget, go spend it,' you really only had about five different places to spend your money. You allocated that money on print, radio, TV, direct mail, and billboards, and that was it. You set your budget, you called up your radio person and gave them the spot, and they spent it.
"Now, you have those things, but...there's a thousand different things to do online...to understand Google algorithm changes, to understand the throttle rate of Facebook ads, to understand how people move throughout the customer journey, understanding what part of the journey people are using which social channels, etc....
"I think it's unfair [to expect] a chief marketing officer or a director of marketing to understand those nuances at that level of the business and then, in the same vein, have to go off to a meeting about procurement and understand that, if I work in the restaurant industry, I also have to be responsible for napkin thread count. That's a very tall order for that chief marketing officer to have to balance both sides."
Before you can achieve business success, everyone needs to be clear on your organizational goals (15:10): "How you view the world depends on where you sit. You might have people within your organization that say, 'Hey, we need go to out and build brand.' And then you might have other people who...say, 'We need to drive conversion.' Those two things are completely different. If you're tactically looking at building brand, you might be thinking mass media, display, etc. And if you're talking about conversion, well maybe that's conversion of leads. Maybe that's people buying product. Maybe that's people buying product through your e-commerce. Maybe that's people buying product through your retailers.
"You have to get very specific, and then find out which levers to pull tied to those outcomes. It's very important that your internal resources, vendors, partners, agencies, etc. understand that and then work backwards and reverse-engineer which platforms, which levers do we pull that meet those goals [or] those outcomes."
Look beyond Google Analytics reports when assessing the impact of your marketing efforts (16:36): "It's very easy to get caught in the trap of 'Hey, go increase sales' or 'Go get me more leads' or 'Go get me more brand impressions,' but what's the real outcome that we're trying to measure against? Marketing analytics matter more than Google Analytics. Too many people get caught up in the Google analytics or sending a report about traffic or visits or returning users, etc., and they're not looking at true metrics or marketing analytics. A lot of people...focus too much on tactical metrics, which are basically checkboxes—we post more, we get more—versus looking at strategic metrics...things that actually move the business forward: attributions, funnels, things of that nature."
You're doing enough to fill the top of the funnel: It's time to focus on the consideration stage (20:48): "A lot of companies are spending too much money and focusing too much effort at the top of the customer journey for awareness and too much effort and money at the bottom trying to get people to buy again. The reality is that people are caught in this paradox of choice, and they can't actually make a decision. The biggest threat out there really isn't competitors, it's consumers' inability to make a decision.
"You have a large majority of consumers (sixty, seventy, eighty percent of consumers) that literally sit there and say to themselves, 'I'll just keep doing what I'm doing, thanks, I'm good,' and they'll move on. But these marketers are trying so hard to get noticed, be meaningful, keep attention, and get somebody to take action. And so this consideration phase—how do you get from [where] you've gotten in front of somebody, you've moved them from awareness to consideration, telling somebody that, 'Hey, you have a problem' and instead of them saying 'I'm good, thanks,' how do you get them to try? How do you get them over that hump?
"If you were to take a deeper dive into what Google calls the "Zero Moment of Truth..." you would see that...over sixty percent of consumers look for the most relevant information online regardless of the company providing the information. So there really is no brand loyalty out there. They're just looking for relevant information, and if you—the company—can serve that need...in that micro-moment of consideration, than that's a powerful place to play.... You can be the vehicle that gets them to buy."
James and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
James Loomstein, managing partner at agency Rogue Marketing and adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business. Follow Rogue Marketing on Twitter at @RogueThink and follow James at @jloomstein. You can also find him on LinkedIn.