What we will cover
“Is it working?”
This is a question faced by marketing teams across the land. Which, given all the data we have available through our digital channels, probably shouldn’t need to be asked, but it does beg the question, “What are the parameters?”.
Sometimes, “Is it working?” means “I want more”. More enquiries, more customers, more profit. With so many potential customers to serve, “Surely we just need to get it out there?”
At a stretch, for some industries, you could argue this is true for some commodities or low ticket/high volume products. However, even these are under threat, consumers are boycotting Amazon because of its tax avoidance, poor working conditions, questionable supply chain, and its catastrophic environmental impact.
The modern consumer is putting a larger weighting on a brand’s values vs the impact on their pocket, and I can’t see that changing.
A more complex digital environment
I don’t think it’s just about buying patterns, as a kid with no mobile phone, my ability to share time with people like me was limited by where my mates lived and the state of my chopper’s small front tyre.
Since then, digital networks have allowed us to connect with “our tribe” and its niche interests from all over the globe. Creating many more spaces to hang out from the days when mass media was just radio and TV broadcasting.
In the 60’s, TV advertising said buy Coca Cola, and we bought it.
In the 80’s, Nike said if you want to be an athlete, buy from me, and we bought it.
In the noughties, influencers unboxed it, ads stalked us, we osmosed their social, engrossed ourselves in their newsletters and enriched our opinions from their blogs. We aligned with their ambassadors, echoed their values, and eventually, we bought it.
In the modern transaction, it takes on average 8 touch points for someone to buy, every step is a delicate opportunity to turn someone on or off us.
It’s complex, and challenging for a business of any scale.
The obvious place to look for resolution is in the gaps, “Where aren’t we appearing?”, but adding to the relentless fog of grey matter is a surefire way to spend time, energy and money for little reward – it is a fool’s errand.
The thinking that you can serve everyone or that you just need more people to see you are bedfellows, never before has it been so critical to spend your time further upstream and spend your energy differentiating from your competitors.
You don’t need to resonate with everyone, you need to resonate with someone.
To help with this you could do worse than some light reading from Seth Godin & Daniel Priestly. But in short, you need to develop the individual and organisational resilience to say “No”.
“No” creates standards. During the sales process, it demonstrates a counter-argument to inexperience, it shows someone another way that may be better. It doesn’t just peddle an easy answer in the moment, and most importantly, “No” allows others to believe in our exclusive “Yes”.
When we stand up for things that we value, we become a beacon for others, and we give motive for engagement with those that share the same values. The question is deeply rooted in our brand, “what is it we stand for?”
Discovering our purpose isn’t easy, purpose sits at the far end of the process, the long tail after the deliverable (which is how we so many of us measure our work). So how do we get to it?
Finding purpose in our work
Vu’s advice (and one of my core values) is to listen, get back in touch with your customers, what happened to them after you delivered your product or service? what was the outcome for them? Or the impact on society?
Get your team together and workshop new environmental or ethical ideas for delivering your services, changing your suppliers, or countering other negative organisational challenges in an open, judgement-free environment.
Invest profits, time (or both) into community projects – even just deciding to do that will highlight what charitable organisations you are drawn to, and therefore, what causes you’re passionate about.
And, no matter how big your organisation is, you could align your mission with one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Because if you don’t, who will?
If your mission isn’t well defined or lived by your team, then you run the risk of being a forgotten commodity.
We are entering a world of socially and environmentally conscious consumers, all looking for someone who resonates with them.
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