Thursday, May 14, 2009

Marketing Musts in the 2009 Zeitgeist

As I continue to ponder futurist Ross Dawson’s trend map for 2009, I’m focusing on how these trends can inform marketers who stress over “what’s brewing out there?” Here’s the first five observations. Stay tuned. This Zeitgeist Hydra grows heads exponentially.

Uncertainty/anxiety demands Customer Reassurance. Bryan Landaburu cited a superb example of customer reassurance done right from electronics retailer Amidst the economic meltdown, Crutchfield's founder and CEO sent a reassuring, sincere, frank, specific, and proactive email to customers on October 24, 2008. It doesn’t get better than this. Bigger point: If you haven't walked the walk, you'll suffer a fatal fall.

Ageing demands Security. At some point, getting older gets to be less about botoxing wrinkles and more about hanging onto the edge of a cliff. Will we be able to house and nourish ourselves, afford healthcare, drive a car, take a walk, go out to lunch occasionally? Baby Boomers and Their Parents says 50-somethings are not as well-off as their "Greatest Generation" parents -- a reality that's of over-arching concern. Message to marketers: products and services for folks concerned about the harsher side of ageing must answer the security call.

Flight to quality demands Sincere Response. One of the folks at Apocalypzia remembers a time when one of America’s leading retailers (to whom he consulted on quality control issues) scoffed when customers returned branded tools for bad performance. “The attitude was: There are always new customers coming in.” Today, with vastly declining sales, that company is surviving on its real estate ownership (how’s that working for you, folks?). Bottom line: No more marketing and customer-service silos. Today's customer will move on for good, but on her way out, she'll tell 100 people on Twitter how much she hates her consumer experience. (Note: If you don't believe it, try Googling "I hate Comcast," which currently pulls up 928,000 hits. Goodbye, Frank Eliason [who rarely tells us when Comcast is down in our area or why, but yaks about other stuff, grrrrr], hello Fios.

Global connectivity demands Agility and Flexibility. In Digital Marketing: Global Strategies, authors Jerry Wind and Vijay Mahajan say new business models must focus not on profits and returns, but on rapidly building market share and leveraging knowledge. In the Domino’s Pizza model, for example, location is irrelevant, customer interaction and ordering is by phone, the value proposition is speed, and database marketing and associated analytics are critical.

GRIN technologies demand concise, catchy copy. Marketing anything related to genetics, robotics, information technology, and nanotechnology is bound to confuse, challenge, and scare a lot of people—even smart people. For this, we need a new, shorter language, the awareness of which has been exploding in Twitter’s 140-character to mobile marketing’s 160-character messaging. Got nano?

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