Are Smart Things Really Smart or is it Just Smart Marketing?

Earlier this year I wrote about the impact of AI and ML on digital marketing. The article is called “AI and ML are Taking Digital Marketing to the Next Level.” In it, I compared the positive and negative implications of technology for customers and companies alike.  So this week I wanted to write about the impact of smart choices for business in general.

We seem to be surrounded by smart things: smartwatches, smart clothing, smart cars, smart houses and smart appliances. But are they really that smart? 

The reason for my question is that an article entitled “Taking ‘Smart’ Out Of Smart Things” by Chuck Martin made me think about whether “smart things” really are that smart, or whether it’s something else that’s making them appear smart?

So here are my views on it. Feel free to add your own opinions in the comments below, I would love to start a discussion on “smartness”.

 

The Age of the Customer and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

In one of their older Customer Experience reports Forrester claimed that we are now in the Age of the Customer. This was music to my ears when I first read it, because as you know I’m a customer champion. However, The World Economic Forum reported a few years ago that we are now on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolutionwhich is blurring the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres.

In their article, they explain that

“The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

Does this mean that people are becoming less and less important as technology takes over more and more areas of our daily lives – and value? Luckily no. The author, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum concludes the article by saying

In the end, it all comes down to people and values. We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them. In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny. It is incumbent on us all to make sure the latter prevails.”

So no panic; there will hopefully still be a place for people in this brave new world! But that doesn’t mean that we won’t have to adapt – and adapt quickly if we don’t want to be left behind. Continue Reading

Smart Marketing for Smart Customers (What Marketers Need to Know Today)

Our customers are getting smarter every day. But are we performing smart marketing too? I don’t think so.

When I have the chance to look at what most organisations are doing, I see that they are still living in the past of traditional media and have hardly dipped their toes into new media. Or they are using social media but still treating it as if it is traditional media! Neither plan will work. Here’s how marketers should be reaching, connecting and engaging their customers.

 

1. Don’t talk to everyone

We all know that you can’t please all the people all of the time, so why are we marketers still mass producing our messages? In the past, the annual marketing plan requirement was for us to develop a few ads for each of our planned campaigns.

Today with social media, we need a constant flow of new ads and new campaigns, each targeted at a sub-group of our audience, with individual messages. We need to not only to be mobile, but flexible, adaptable and ready to take advantage of any opportunity, the moment it happens.

One  of the best examples of this is still Oreo’s reaction to the power outage at the Superdome during the Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. The cookie’s social media team jumped on the cultural moment, tweeting an ad that read Power Out? No problem with a starkly-lit image of an Oreo with the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.” Read more in this article on Wired.

Since then, we have seen a few more brands “stage” similar events during the Super Bowl; I’m referring to Tide and Snickers of course. What all these memorable moments have, is a deep understanding of both the audience – in this case of the Super Bowl – and their target customers.

Smart marketing focusses on understanding the customers of a targeted group of category users. And accepting to ignore those that don’t fit, even if they are currently using the brand. Are you brave enough to do the same?

 

2. Stand out from the crowd

A recent article in Forbes by Larry Myler mentioned and-out-in-a-crowd-of-competitors/#c0dbd4762fa9″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>7 ways for a br>and to stand out from the crowd. These were:

  1. Provide Legendary Customer Service.
  2. Admit Mistakes and Fix Problems to Build Stronger Relationships.
  3. Be Honest About Your Products and Services.
  4. Come Up With Something New.
  5. Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility.
  6. Start a Blog.
  7. Offer a Guarantee.

What I find interesting about this list is that the first four concern customer service excellence, but the last three are more about the organisation. OK so they should also impact the customer, but not as directly as the first four.

Smart marketing can counter declining customer loyalty

The other thing, for me at least, is that I don’t think any of these will actually make a brand stand out from the crowd! After all, they are the table stakes for the social world we live in today. What do you think?

A survey conducted by KPMG and industry network The Consumer Goods Forum in April this year, found that nearly four out of every 10 consumer products executives think brand loyalty will see a decline among consumers over the next two years. Continue Reading

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want me to catalyse your growth and profitability, just book a call.

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