For almost an entire century, marketers could strategize based on generational cohesion; there were a certain set of values, milestones and lifestyles that made targeting, communications and styling, if not easy, at least fairly straightforward.
The rise of digital media changed everything (as you know), ushering in an era of unprecedented personalization. People now choose what they are exposed to, when they see it and on what devices. In fact, they carefully curate their feeds adding only what matters the most to them and weeding out whatever they disagree with. This is only amplified further by online algorithms designed to show only related content, influenced by localization and past behavior.
As consumers are getting extremely personalized experiences online from brands, they expect to have them offline as well; clearly favoring those who offer the easiest, fastest and most seamless transaction from start to finish. To capitalize this opportunity, marketers have to find a way to create scalable, consistent and effective marketing efforts that leave the “one size fits all” mentality back with the days of landlines and dial-up.
During the summer Marketing and Mentoring Summit in Dallas, we took notes as marketers from diverse B2B and B2C environments shared exclusive insights on how to stay relevant as the rise of individualism continues. Here are three standout examples of how top marketers are creating a closer bond between brand and consumer by way of customization.
Deborah Dunay, Marketing Director of Essent Guaranty, is working with her team to be available for the customer in every way that they want to connect with the brand. For them, the challenge is to take that beyond customer acquisition to customer retention, making sure that once they have reached the prospect and they become customers, the company can continue to offer a remarkably personalized experience
“The bar is set very high today, even in B2B, on what the modern web experience should look like,” said Dunay.
To overcome these challenges, the company has adopted a mentality of serving a “market of one” versus a “market of many”, leveraging the power of automation by:
“We’ve got a new mission we’re embarking on across the entire global enterprise – both B2B and B2C. We want to make sure that everything we do in terms of brand, communication, experience, etc is customer first. We want to educate and train marketers across the whole company to think better as both marketers and consumers.”
Chung said that this shift from brand to consumer-focused service requires marketers (and everyone else in the organization) to look at each touch point they are using to communicate to each customer. Their goal is to deliver value in a less transactional way, evoking an authentic, emotional connection to consumers. He gave some highlights of how they are achieving that with two different audience groups:
For many years, all of Wilson’s research showed that consumers did not care what their tennis racquets (by far their largest product category) looked like - so they kept producing functional and utilitarian racquets like other brands in the industry.
But Guelzim and her team understood that the sports industry thrives on customization (just take a look at any monogrammed jersey or shorts emblazoned with team logos). So they partnered with Roger Federer and co-designed a line of racquets that were a variation of the Roger design - a pure play on cosmetics without changing functionality. Customers went crazy for them!
Such a small step was a success because no other brand in the industry believed that it would work so well. Now, Wilson is currently #1 in the tennis industry and is launching two new personalized strategies:
The latter is the greater challenge, but one to reap potentially enormous benefits for the organization and the brand. After all, consumers will undoubtedly feel more inclined to participate in a reward system that is literally designed for them.
The continual challenge for marketers is to find ways to meet consumers where they’re at, when they need to be found and for reasons that appeal uniquely to them. Once that part is figured out, the benefits just keep coming - for you and your customers.
"Ideas can come from unexpected places or random, totally unrelated discussions. Being open to change makes one a stronger marketer because change is all around us."
In our latest Marketer to Watch interview, we get Steve Wimmer's opinion on how marketing is changing and what he thinks will set apart marketers of the future.