Why you need to swap channel-first for consumer-first thinking

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In the ever-changing world of marketing, barely a week goes by without a new way of reaching and engaging with consumers emerging.

From the rise of new technologies, such as augmented reality (Pokemon Go, anyone?) to new channel features, for example Instagram Stories, marketers face a plethora of new channels to explore. Finding a channel is no longer a problem, knowing what to focus on and why, is more challenging.

Marketing departments across the board tend to deal with this multifaceted environment in one of two ways: they either become 'magpies' or 'flamingos'. 

The flamingoes amongst us keep their heads in the sand due to resource and time constraints, ignoring emerging channels and how they might help to reach consumers, while magpies are constantly distracted by new shiny channels, flitting from one to another without proper planning or strategic execution.

Drive new ways of working across your team to build a 360 degree profile of your consumers

This inertia is leading to paralysis in many marketing teams, resulting in either outdated or disjointed marketing campaigns that drive little value to the consumer, which in the worst cases damages brand reputation and customer relationships.

So how exactly can marketers execute meaningful campaigns if the goal posts are constantly moving, teams work in silos and the landscape is ever changing?

I believe that we need to start with a shift in mindset; rather than focusing solely channels, marketers must look to invert their thinking from channel-first, to consumer-first.

Consumer-first marketing

What is it? It is the realisation that the channel is merely a means to an end, and moreover it is an understanding that customers does not think or operate in clear defined channels, so why should your marketing?

The goal of marketing in this changing landscape, should be to deliver relevant, contextual and personalised messages – that are also channel agnostic. That means focusing on consumer needs across the board to create a truly omnichannel approach.

So how exactly do we do that?

The consolidation of customer data is crucial to success in consumer-first marketing.

I believe that when companies consolidate all customer data, whether that be behavioural, demographic or transactional, into one single customer profile, marketing not only becomes more sophisticated, valuable, contextual and personal – it also becomes holistic, allowing interactions to be seamless across channels in ways previously unseen. 

By focusing on the consumer first, siloed teams can work together to produce high-quality, relevant marketing that engages with audiences. This doesn’t mean ignoring emerging channels and tools, but teams working closely together to understand the customer and how these new channels can be best utilised to drive value for the consumer.

Taking the consumer-first approach allows marketers to build consumer-relationships, meaningfully. 

Rather than tightly aligning every campaign to outdated KPIs that do not reflect the needs of today’s consumers, marketers should champion delivering value to the consumer, across their organisations.

The world of marketing is ever changing and fast moving, which is one of the reasons it’s such an exciting space to work in. Marketers have a unique opportunity to flip their approach and change the course of the industry, to a future that is committed to delivering value to consumers, and bottom-line revenue to our organisations.

Don’t be a flamingo with your head in the sand but don’t be a magpie either – in fact, just don’t be a bird.

Be a champion for the customer. Drive new ways of working across your team to build a 360 degree profile of your consumers, so you can be relevant, contextual and personal always and at all times, devoid of channels to produce impactful results. 

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