10 Thoughts for Your 2011 Marketing Budget

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The coming marketing decade will be about common sense.  Most of the tools we need to develop relevant, engaging and reputable brands exist.  It’s just a matter of using them.  So rather than tell you about the next new thing to use, I encourage you to double-check whether your 2011 marketing plan takes into account the following items.

#1 Focus on maximizing returns, not minimizing headaches 

Smart marketing funds get spent by figuring out what makes most money for your business, most sense for your customers and allocating funds accordingly.  This may sound like an obvious statement, but for many marketing investments, decision-making is driven by orthodoxy, past habits and the way media data happens to be structured.  Make sure your 2011 plans challenge this view and focus on doing what is right, no matter how hard it makes life for everyone.   

#2 Introduce customer economics to drive personalised communication

Every customer is a unique individual.  But segmentation myths and economies of scale cause many brands to treat them in largely the same manner.  After all, doing things in a more personalized manner is too expensive and cumbersome.  Still, by introducing customer economics into your 2011 plan, you can put a monetary value on different customers and their behaviour.  This allows you to build a business case to approach customers the way they deserve.

#3 Manage your total customer experience

I have never seen a customer journey in which the brand actively managed more than half the steps that existed from their customer’s point of view.  Leaving 50% of the customer experience up to chance is not only stupid from a customer satisfaction point of view.  It is also a waste of opportunity.  Each step in the customer journey can be monetized.  A failure to do this cheats the business out of valuable profits.  Double-check whether your 2011 plan looks at the whole customer journey.

#4 Engage the customer in a relevant way

Many brands are addicted to telling the world how great they are.  They appropriate the right to interrupt our music, our movies, our life when they feel we should listen to them.  For 2011, I challenge you to root out this narcissistic addiction at your company.  Stop talking in terms of what you want to say, and start talking about what your customers want to hear.  Explore brand utility concepts.  Be useful and enrich their lives, instead of being in the way.

#5 Explore customer centric communication planning

90% of people I ask to come up with a remarkable communication initiative for the man at the bus stop, show me creative ways for the bus stop to manifest itself.  Hardly anyone focuses on the man.  The magazines he may read, the people he may talk to, the games he may play.  Make sure your 2011 plan doesn’t fall into the trap of putting media data availability ahead of the consumption and interest patterns of the people you aim to reach.

#6 Use transmedia storytelling techniques to stop repeating yourself

When brands say they want to be consistent, they usually mean that they want their logo to be the same everywhere.  Their messages to be the same across all channels.  Their visuals to be re-used in every execution.  While this may look nice in a boardroom, from a customer perspective this is boring.  Transmedia storytelling techniques can make sure your audience remains interested in what you have to say.  Make sure your 2011 plan doesn’t repeat itself over and over. Engage your audience.

#7 Audience inclusion

While this may not be their intention, many brands behave in a prejudiced way.  If you don’t fit the mould of their average customer, you don’t exist.  As a result, they edit out anyone who doesn’t fit the middle-class, healthy, heterosexual, religiously-correct stereotype.  And they definitely don’t set up tailored programmes for them.  Make sure that doesn’t happen in your 2011 plan.  Not for moral reasons, yet purely financial ones.  After all, every customer is worth fighting for.

#8 Real social media

I often get asked how people should improve their online reputation and which social media strategy they should follow.  I usually give them two responses:

·         First, I tell them that they don’t need to worry about a social media strategy.  This is about as useful as having a strategy for a mobile phone.  If it rings, you pick it up.  Simple.

·         Secondly, I tell them that they don’t need to worry about their online reputation either.  This is simply a reflection of the real world.  If customers are treated well, they will say good things about you online.  If they are treated badly, they will hammer you.  Simple as well.

Make sure your 2011 social media efforts don’t get wasted on shiny objects.  Focus on making sure you have many happy customers … the social media bit will follow.

#9 Behaviour focused internal communication

A brand is a sign of trust.  So building a brand is about building that trust.  This is not done by making empty promises.  It’s done by making relevant promises and delivering against them.  In other words, it’s not about the words you speak.  It’s about the behaviours of the people in the organisation.  Check whether your 2011 plans enables other departments to know about the promises that you will make, and that they are empowered to deliver against them. 

#10 Getting business to behave accountably

Finally a word on corporate accountability.  These days, every company wants to save the planet, feed the poor and be morally just.  In my experience the real test of their resolve is to see what happens if you ask the CEO to swap his BMW 7 series for a small hybrid car.  Accountability is less about inflated promises that you don’t keep, and more about transparency, honesty and doing a few things well.  Check your 2011 plan for what you can do and do this well.  Shut up about the rest.

 And if you’re stuck on any of the above, you can also just get in touch.  I’m happy to help 😉

This post is one of a series to accompany the launch of the #ChangeMarketing Manifesto.  This is a call to action for marketers world-wide to change the nature of marketing itself.  To reconnect the profession to the needs of the customers and the businesses they serve. 

CLICK HERE to download your copy of the #ChangeMarketing Manifesto, or explore the #ChangeMarketing tab at the top of this page.

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