Just a few years ago, we were talking about how disruptive social media and digital video would be to the marketing ecosystem. Today it’s virtual reality and artificial intelligence, which are creating whole new channels and consumer expectations.
Never before have marketers had more options to reach their target audiences. And yet it has never been harder to capture consumers’ attention. It’s what PwC calls the “marketer’s dilemma.”
With so many choices, consumers are more sophisticated and pickier than ever. They’re used to dismissing “traditional” marketing that adds no value or feels creaky. However, they are eager to engage with brand-promoted content that is compelling and shareable.
Creating breakthrough content is easier said than done, however. I came to marketing at PwC from the consulting side of the business, and what I learned there has guided my whole approach to marketing:
• Think like a client: In consulting, avoid creating long reports with multiple appendices that will never see the light of day. When I took over our marketing, many of the reports felt like old-school consulting reports. Whether it is a client deliverable or a marketing publication, it needs to be short, pithy, and readable. Clients want just the necessary info, and marketers need to remember consumers do, too.
As consultants, we also have to remind ourselves that the client is always right. In marketing, our clients are typically internal stakeholders, but I have tried to shift our focus to think of the end firm’s clients as our clients: the consumer. If they want information on a topic, we need to create it. If they do not, we need to stop creating content that is not interesting, even if we think it is.
• Think critically: The service consultants provide is quickly analyzing business quickly to come up with supportable conclusions that can be shared with executive management. Creating impactful marketing is no different.
Many marketers try to develop long-term calendars and force content and activities into them. Instead, stay flexible and respond to market conditions in real time. That allows us to understand what consumers really want and, in turn, drive sales. Marketers today need to design activities that respond to real-time industry or geopolitical issues that answer clients’ most pressing questions.
• Differentiate from the competition: Every RFP we responded to in consulting had a section on why we were more qualified and the right choice. When I got to marketing, this was not part of the narrative. Whenever you have the chance to subtly highlight your company or design a marketing activity that your competitors are not involved in, you have a win.
• Keep it simple: We love process, workstreams, and business plans. That’s important, but clients care about the basics: growing revenue, cutting costs, and boosting team satisfaction. The basics of marketing are building the brand, developing relationships, and driving pipeline. If an activity does not do at least one of these, kill it. Get feedback on all activities and continually improve. Nothing should be a one-and-done.
• Stay connected: Marketing, sales, and the client service team need to work closely together or a marketing activity is a waste. After one bad customer service experience, 56% of consumers will never buy from you again. Again, get feedback on all activities and continually improve.
I never fully left client services, and this is probably my best differentiator. By still being able to “walk the halls,” I am able to connect with our clients, learn what is interesting to them, promote our marketing activities, connect with other influencers, and drive new sales opportunities. Stay connected to your customers, and you’ll have a much keener sense of the content they’re really looking for.