It seems that the time has come to rethink the overall concept of marketing, which nowadays is facing new challenges such as how to increase the number of consumer touch points and make use of data analysis so as to understand – and engage more closely with – the customer.
The challenges facing the company marketing directors of today go way beyond the famous four ‘P’s – Product, Price, Promotion, Place – posited half a century ago. In a report entitled ‘Tech Trends 2015: The fusion of business and IT’, international professional services firm Deloitte describes what it calls ‘dimensional marketing’ as one of the main trends of 2015. The new ‘dimensions’ to be added to the picture are given as engagement, connectivity, data, and technology.
When it comes to engagement, the Deloitte analysts underline that companies will have to take more account of the way customer behaviour has changed. In 2015, the majority of consumers go looking for an opinion online before ordering a product, especially when they are buying an expensive item. This gives brands and retailers the opportunity to focus on the individual customer, telling a story that really makes sense to him/her through an ultra-personalised approach drawing on the latest technology tools. This is very similar to what multinational management consulting company Accenture advocated recently with its Internet of Me concept, arising from the spread of the Internet of Things.
Dimensional marketing means knowing how to take advantage of the growing number of customer touch points
These days, retail firms can reach out to consumers through a wide variety of touch points including email and mobile devices, which means that brands have to be able to manage a panoply of communication channels vis-à-vis their customers. These channels also provide many different ways of understanding customers better and opportunities for creating loyalty. A survey carried out by eBay and Deloitte among European companies showed that using a range of channels helps brands to sell more, especially in the clothing and furnishing sectors. However, a recent report from the JDA Software Group indicated that maintaining an omnichannel presence was not yet profitable for most retailers. So while everyone is talking omnichannel, most brands have not yet thoroughly incorporated this approach into their way of working.
As regards data, the Deloitte report points out that the marketeers of 2015 know they do not lack resources. In fact they have opportunities to obtain a vast amount of customer data. The basic question is how to make the best use of it and evidence shows that the ability to collect and analyse the vast quantities of available data as a basis for building value-generating marketing strategies has not yet been totally mastered by most marketers. This is however set to change in 2015, reckon the Deloitte authors.
Moreover, given the wide range of potential interactions between brands and consumers, the experts reckon that companies ought to go a step further, reshaping their marketing efforts towards product and service ‘co-creation’ in tandem with the customer.
So how can companies respond best to these challenges by using dimensional marketing?
With so many new concepts and possible ways of approaching customers, the first step for any company is to clearly define its goals before embarking on the second step: thinking about how to refocus strategy on the customer. For instance, does the firm want first and foremost to improve customer capture and retention or to differentiate itself from the competition and win market share?
Moreover, the traditional brand-consumer balance of power is now shifting, placing the company and the customer on a more equal footing; the Deloitte report argues that companies ought now to be moving away from the notion of ‘customer loyalty’ to the brand and embracing instead the idea of the brand’s loyalty to the customer. Strategic marketing initiatives and customer feedback should mutually reinforce each other, creating a virtuous circle.
Moving from a linear process to a virtuous circle fed by customers
Marketers also need to make efforts to produce brand content that is appropriate to the various different channels of communication used – video, social networks etc. – and not simply to use Content Management System tools which usually only allow you to work through a single channel.
Give these modern developments, close collaboration is essential between product/service chiefs, the marketing director, and IT management if the company wants to get to grips with the new challenges of using new technologies to optimal effect for customer engagement purposes, underline the Deloitte experts.