This year’s KahenaCon in Jerusalem was an intimate gathering of about 250 marketers, offering some star power from home and abroad, including Eitan Chitayat of Natie, Kate Morris of Distilled and Adam Melson of SEER Interactive.
The keynote featured Joanna Lord, CMO of BigDoor in Seattle, who spoke on “The Loyalist Advantage.” She deftly profiled today’s consumers, and why it’s vital for brands (and marketers) to seize the opportunity to follow their lead and provide content that matches their behavioral changes.
Marketing channels and tactics, while they evolve, can also reappear – “like 80s hairstyles,” Lord said. (Show of hands for who wants to relive junior high trends in their professional life?) How customers are electing to shop, compare and buy, however, should be forcing marketers to direct entirely new campaigns, make new websites, and get ahead of consumer instead of always behind a half-step behind. “Reactive marketing is exhausting,” Lord explained, “and boring!”
What’s a Marketer to Do?
Personalization is vitally important to today’s consumer, and it needs to be an operational principle in marketing. Companies must collect as much data as possible, what consumers like – as well as what they don’t – while keeping an eye on what’s in it for them at the end. The consumer is constantly asking “What’s in it for me?” and expecting an answer.
The Good News – and the Bad News
Loyalty matters more than ever, and brands that are engaged with customers should see high retention. People are literally deciding differently than they used to, as a way to filter the extreme amounts of content coming at them, but making a brand visually appealing, deeply resonant and readily sharable should create loyal and chatty customers. They should be primed for becoming brand ambassadors in this new, weird world of “peer suggestive marketing.”
Lord specifically spoke about Red Bull and Coca-Cola as brands whose lifestyle marketing is resonant, and offered a shout-out to Wanelo, a site similar to Pinterest but featuring click-to-buy links. The consumer of 2014 is discovering and buying things without ever touching a search engine – and brands need to be responding to that concept – quickly.
The bad news, of course, is that creating this kind of brand has never before been the job of marketers, who, in the past, have been responsible for getting the product in front of people and then leaving the follow up to salespeople or the customer service department. Our new job, Lord emphasized, is to manage the consumer voice – to let them become the marketer as we find their comments, amplify positive responses and respond to criticisms. She suggested a cross-department team to help manage projects and campaigns that reach out to this new kind of consumer.
Kicking and Screaming
So how do you make your clients or company agile enough to reach these consumer-marketers, who are shaping the face of your brand as you’re trying to keep up? How do you cut down on reactive marketing in favor of innovative projects? As Lord told me later, being strict helps. Whenever possible, cap the hours for reactive marketing. Put proactive campaigns on the calendar. Insist on frequent communications, particularly for large clients.
Facing these new tasks may seem daunting, but Lord managed to capture and distill what is already happening out there in the world of consumption. Adapt or be left behind – so how will you do it?