All too often marketers and business executives sit in conference rooms and create programs that are intended to benefit the customer or prospect.
In that room and in that process, people argue points, whiteboards are scribbled on, and inevitably issues arise with a conference or video-call connection. In those rooms, charts are used, stats are thrown about, and different interpretations of data are used as potential closing points. These meetings can last hours and never seem to reach conclusion or, even more sadly, projects never seem to launch. A key reason that many of these time-consuming machinations occur is because the most important person is not in the room: the customer.
Early in my career, I had the good fortune of having a mentor who helped open my eyes to the concept of reviewing ideas, marketing campaigns, and consumer interactions through the eyes of the customer. It sounds like an incredibly easy concept, but in practice, it is very challenging.
More often than not as marketers, we look at our communications and engagements solely through the lens of the business and their contribution to its success. When we do this, we create campaigns that seem to have all the right distinctive words, but the intended target is left wondering what we do as a company. Or we expect too much of customers' attention spans and interest in our business by asking them to go through multiple stages or jump through hoops to achieve some minor reward or benefit. Nowhere is this more apparent than in digital campaigns and e-commerce sites.
Digital ad campaigns taking consumers to broken links or sending them to pages that don’t follow up with details, e-commerce sites that make items hard to find or take dozens of steps to check out, and emails that feel like they are intended for someone else instead of you—these failings all occur because marketers aren’t looking at the experience and communications through the consumer’s eyes.
In this metrics-driven age that focuses on near-term results, many marketers don’t notice that the batch-and-blast email about a women’s apparel sale that went to the entire file was totally irrelevant to the male recipients. The near-term impact might be a few unsubscribes (not good), but the longer-term effect is that consumers start to see your inbox brand as irrelevant and label it as spam or happily leave it ignored, even when relevant, in the promotions tab (really bad). In the offline world, how would it look to put a women’s apparel sale advertisement in GQ magazine?
More often than not, marketers have developed a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, where we sympathize with our own limited staff bandwidth, backed-up IT demands, and the madness of corporate red tape, instead of taking the time to understand that bad communications, campaigns, and websites are failures on the part of a marketer. These dropped balls are brand touch points that get a failing grade and create not only near-term problems, but also long-term reputation failings that are incredibly hard to come back from.
Instead of being held captive by perceived limitations, sympathize in one of the easiest ways possible: Be the consumer of your own campaign, see it through the eyes of the target audience, and grade yourself. What grade did you receive?