This was my point of view about marketing in the early nineties fr an article I wrote for publication by the BC Chapter of the American Marketing Association. It was shaped by my interest in marketing the services of Go Direct Marketing.
My point of view has evolved since then. I now see marketing as creating community. I see our ability to be successful in our enterprise is to focus our energy, our resources, and our creative ideas on how we create community around our enterprise, and create connections and relationships that contribute to the interests of communities we want to serve and be a part of creating.
Marketing will never be the same
We’ve come a long way since Vance Packard wrote The Hidden Persuaders. The marketplace is changing dramatically and marketing, as we once knew it, is becoming an historical anecdote.
We, as buyers, will no longer be sold. We decide what and when to buy and whom to buy from. We have lots of ways to spend our hard-earned money. We have access to more information and options than ever before and less time to shop. We want good value for money. We like people who appreciate and value our business and we like to be treated as individuals. Most important, we like to deal with people who are looking out for our interests rather than their own. Why would we think our customers are any different?
That’s why direct marketing, data-based marketing, relationship marketing, loyalty marketing, one-on-one marketing, or any number of other names given to individual marketing has become the cornerstone of successful businesses in the ’90s. After all, the value of most businesses is measured in the value of their customers and the revenue they represent. And the future profitability and success of most businesses depends on their ability to keep their customers and increase their annual and lifetime value.
So why aren’t all businesses directing more of their marketing dollars toward communicating with their existing customers? Probably because they haven’t done the business case. Maybe they don’t have the data, or maybe they haven’t used the data they have to know that this is the best return on investment they’ll ever find.
One-to-one marketing isn’t just about creative direct mail communications. It’s about the collection and systematic analysis and application of information. It’s learning more about our customers and communicating to them regularly with relevant information in a manner that recognizes them as individuals and respects the relationship they have with us.
The secret of successfully achieving this is a customer information and relationship management system to keep track of all the information relevant to the relationship we have with each of our customers: all contacts, all communication activity, all response activity, all transaction activity, and all the feedback our customers give us related to their needs, interests, and concerns.
With this we can identify changes and analyze trends in response or buying behaviour, plan communication initiatives, evaluate our return on investment, and tailor our messages to treat each customer in a personal manner.
The challenge then is to learn the art of communicating information, purchase opportunities, and offers to our customers in a manner that stimulates response and ensures we will always be their first port of call when they decide to buy.
A fifth “P” has been added to the four P’s of marketing taught in business school. That P is Personal. Marketing is now a business of communicating to a “segment of one”. This is a sophisticated business, – both art and science. No wonder we are seeing such a huge growth in direct marketing professionals and direct marketing agencies.
If you, or any of your clients, are considering direct marketing, consider the following:
- Do a revenue and customer analysis and determine the current and potential lifetime value of each customer.
- Determine how much you are spending to attract a new customer and how much you are investing in your existing customers to keep them and increase the amount of business they are doing with you.
- Start building a database of your customers and capture all the information related to their business and their behaviour.
- Seek out and hire qualified, experienced direct marketing professionals.
This is not just a new way of marketing. It’s a new way of doing business.
The future for marketing
The way of doing business in the future now, from my point of view, lies in moving from the idea of marketing to the idea of creating community, from the idea of advertising to the idea of creating word of mouth, and from the idea of buying media to the idea of creating community media.
Creating community lies in moving from ideas that contribute to creating us and them to ideas that contribute to creating we.