Simon Marmot is a veteran marketing leader, entrepreneur and founder of Sydney-based Marmot Inc. Marketing. In this guest post, Marmot reflects on three decades of learnings from his time in the marketing biz…

Ever wondered how some marketers hit the mark every time when it comes to boosting customer engagement and offering relevant, meaningful customer experiences at scale? I’d say the first step is to roll up the sleeves and start proactively trying to really understand the customer at a deeper level. Here are my seven pieces of strategic advice following nearly three decades in marketing leadership.

It’s not how hard you fall, but how quickly you rise up

Just like in life, in marketing when something could go wrong, it will go wrong. So whenever I represent a new brand or business, the first thing I always explain upfront is that there will always be some things that go wrong, but it’s how we pick up the pieces to create solutions, learn and grow that determines how agile, and powerful our marketing strategy will become. And in an experimentation-led culture of testing and learning, failing is just part of the strategic process of finding the right solutions  – that ultimately leads to success.

Hire people smarter than you that have a different skill set

In the words of Steve Jobs, it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. Hire smart people so they can tell you what to do. In marketing, a team with a diverse set of skills can bring different perspectives to the table, add significant value to each campaign idea, and take your marketing strategy to new and exciting directions. So it’s essential to not only hire a smart and diverse team, but also nurture that talent so it can continue to thrive.

Channel management and ‘hitting the customer from all angles’

One key thing I have learned over the years is that it’s impossible to turn on one channel and expect a successful outcome. Digital marketing simply does not work that way.

In the ‘old days’ back in the 90s, we used to have a ‘3 Plus’ rule, where a customer had to see the campaign or brand message three times before they could potentially take the message on board and enter the marketing funnel.

Nowadays, there’s so much ‘noise’ in the digital space, you have to engage with a customer significantly more strategically to capture their attention. You almost have to ‘hit them at all angles’ now to get the message across – Google Ads, to FaceBook Ads, Social Messages, Email, PR Messages, UGC Campaigns – and you literally have to do it all at once to be able to create a consistent and cohesive branding experience at all touch points.

Outsmart not outspend to win customer loyalty

Customers are now in complete control of their own marketing consumption and brand destiny. Consumers are super savvy, it’s a push button world and they know exactly what they want and when they want it – and they’re even smart at ‘pushing brands away’ subconsciously that they don’t want (which is most of them!)

This means the pressure is on marketers to be even smarter and more consumer-aware than ever before, in order to find more innovative ways to ‘get under the radar’ of our customers. And it all comes down to outsmarting, not outspending.

At the same time, it’s also important to be mindful of not scrimping or slimming down the budget too much. You can’t test a campaign on a slim budget, you really do need to pay it forward. This is because you need enough data to make the right data-driven business decisions that impact the campaign direction and to realise if the campaign is actually successful or not.

You’re never going to change hearts and minds through a retail ad

You really need to build the love and tap the emotional connection with your brand if you want to attract and retain your customers, or build your ‘tribe.’ Visuals, copy, design, photography, video, all this media is consumed and stored in our subconscious mind. And when we’re ready to make a purchase decision, we go and check our ‘subconscious folders’, and the ones with the most ‘positive equity,’ feelings and emotional associations, will be the brands we choose. We check with our ‘gut instinct,’ we check with our heart, and then we purchase. Conversely, if we have a negative experience with the brand, that will resonate with us for a very long time and be extremely difficult to reverse.

User-generated content and word of mouth is the holy grail

There are ample statistics to show user-generated content (UGC) delivers significant results for brands seeking consumer loyalty and trust. Recent data shows a whopping 87 per cent  of consumers trust reviews and recommendations from family and friends who received a free brand experience, and 71 per cent still trust bloggers, vloggers or social media stars who have gotten the same treatment. Meanwhile, customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than marketing coming directly from a brand or organisation.

So let’s get the customer involved, let’s boost participation on social media, and generate something to get excited about. You’re getting the customer involved and helping to build that emotional connection and you’re encouraging brand engagement. But more importantly, when they tag your brand on that content, they’re sharing it with their social friends, which acts as free advertising. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be very simple and smartly executed.

Creativity is the fuel that fires up CX

In the words of the great Digital Prophet David Shingy, “Consumers are not just the curators and critics of a brand’s content, but they must also be part of the creative process.”

As a marketing leader, the idea is to go on a journey with the customer together, and to make the experience as positive, engaging and fun as possible. People don’t want any marketing fluff or corporate bollocks anymore, they’re really good at shutting that down.

So if we can be human, friendly, and take it to the next level and be more creative and innovative, that is what will resonate with consumers. It doesn’t matter what industry or business you’re in, you need to push the creative boundaries in order to get noticed, stand out and rise above the marketing noise.  Keeping it real and not trying to hard will always put you in good stead with your customers.

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