Are marketers lost?

SUMMARY: Private label sales continue to climb, more brands are going DTC, and more people are using ad blockers to ignore online ads. This next decade is going to challenge marketers in a way that could determine the future of marketing.

The era of “fake news” is among us. The media has tapped into voter anger and is using it to “sell” news stories that aren’t always accurate. Brand authenticity? Consumers say they want brands to be honest and authentic but how does one explain Amazon’s continued growth even though Jeff Bezos treats employees like expendable cogs in a machine?

Some brands are adapting to change and trying to communicate rather than “sell” consumers but let’s face it, there is still a lot of really bad marketing out there. Car insurance companies seem to believe that never-ending TV commercials are the way to acquire new customers even though Google is littered with customer complaints.

Other brands are jumping on the DTC bandwagon. They think they can successfully cut out retailers and go up against Amazon.com. Retailers are offering curbside pickup which doesn’t make sense if you have an online store.

What are marketers to do?

1ne: Talk with tribes – While segmentation is still key to a relevant marketing message marketers need to customize messages by tribes ( micro-segments within your segmentation).

2wo: Be responsive to consumers on their timeline – When a potential customer or customer reaches out with a question or complaint, they now expect an immediate answer (to every question, anytime, on any channel they choose).

3hree: Stop thinking of growth start thinking profit – The never-ending chase to please Wall Street is hurting brands. Too many brands are focused on that elusive growth target which, in turn, leads to bad marketing. Companies should, instead, focus on improving efficiency especially when it comes to customer service.

4our: Understand that the upcoming election is going to polarize voters – The barrage of political ads that are about to be unleashed are going to be unlike anything we have experienced. Brands need to understand that people are going to be angry and polarized. Don’t do anything that further irritates consumers.

5ive: Invest in employees – Your employees are your brand. Treat them badly and the best marketing in the world won’t save your brand.

6ix: Weed out bad marketing executives – You know them. They’re the people who crave headlines in the trade press and live to go to France to pat themselves on the back. It’s time for them to go. They can drain your marketing and sink your brand. They need to be held accountable.

7even: Company Culture – If your company needs weeks or months or meetings and Powerpoints to get things done you’re in serious trouble. You need to be more customer responsive and know when a trend is a fad or when it needs to be integrated in your marketing.

Finally don’t try and be authentic and play to consumer emotions when your CEO donates a big chunk of money to a polarizing candidate. Consumers are a lot smarter now and can see through your company.

Marketing is not going to go through some giant tsunami in the coming decade but brands are going to have to get back to the basics and their number one priority should be a better understanding of what consumers REALLY want.

Are marketers lost?