The pace of change in customer behaviour is huge. A lot of this is enabled by technology and customer bench marking of experiences now cuts across categories. Competition can be anyone and can be anywhere. Crafting marketing strategies is no longer just an annual ritual. Sure, one needs annual benchmarks and guidance, but things are evolving at an hitherto never before experienced pace. In such a scenario how do Marketers stay on top of their game? Well, the answer is, stick to the basics and the ‘not imagined before’! You read it right. We live in a world of contradictions and unlimited choices. There is no magic wand to get the strategy right. But there are certain guiding principles or irreversible trends that can be taken into account for 2020.
- Digital transformation is not a one-time activity:
Organisations need to understand and acknowledge that with the pace of evolution of technology. Change is the only constant. Digital transformation teams will be a permanent feature and will no longer be called the – ‘Digital Transformation’ team. A more apt descriptor would be – Digital Growth Drivers”.
- Create ownership:
Many organisations still operate in silos. But the leadership needs to drive the growth and transformation agenda. The concept of budgets being fungible is absent in organisations and each department wants to spend the allocated budgets. This will no longer be the right approach. Surely, for fiscal discipline budgets are important but they cannot be a hindrance to growth and certainly monies should be allocated to initiatives that will drive greater value creation. Organisations will have to allocate time and money to take calculated risks with new approaches and new technologies.
- Balance national/global, one-size-fits-all creative and content assets with local and cultural nuances:
This according to me is lazy marketing. Indian is a vast country with a multitude of behavioural dimensions. Marketing and communication need to pick up these nuances and make them work harder for the brand. The plethora of media channels not only allows you to target different sets of consumers but also enables one to target the same set of customers in different geographies and from different cultures with highly contextualised communication. Brands that will do this effectively will emerge winners in 2020.
- Acquisition is replaced by retention as a growth driver:
After the mad rush of acquiring customers over the last few years. Retaining customers will take centre stage in 2020. With brands that we work with, some of them were acquiring almost 50% new customers year on year but more than 40% are not coming back! Doesn’t help if you have a leaking bucket. Easier to keep a customer than acquire one. Marketing strategies need to focus on customer experience and engagement to drive stickiness and customer lifetime value.
- Data is breaking stereotypes:
Marketers had fixed notions and traditional way of doing research, it had also boxed the consumers into narrow slots. Senior Sales & Marketing professionals with 20 years+ experience would often quote that we know everything there is to know about our consumers. This myth is being demolished by data in a lot of cases. Marketers need to take cognisance of the data story and respond accordingly.
- From story-telling to story-selling:
Every brand and Marketer worth his salt wants to tell a story but the CEO is interested in story ‘selling’. Sure investments is not only about sales but let’s admit most of it is to drive sales. Organisations are looking for talent that can do both parallelly and effectively.
- Context, relevance and ‘nudging’ customers:
These three tenets will be the bedrock of success in 2020. Organisations and brands will need to move from Interruption to Intention in an era of complex customer journeys. Brands that will understand and target the ‘intent’ of the customer and then nudge them into decision making will stay relevant.
- Real time will be way more important than loyalty:
75% of smartphone users expect to get immediate information while using their smartphone. “Best” + “right now” mobile queries have grown by over 125% in the last two years. The customer has moved to right here, right now. The sooner the organisations acknowledge this and develop strategies to address real time customer needs will be one of the key success parameters in 2020.
- Measuring effectiveness cannot be an afterthought it has to be part of the brief:
Marketing briefs to partners will need to be sharper with the objectives and KPIs clearly outlined at the briefing stage. Everyone needs to know at the beginning what they are trying to accomplish.
- AI and ML will be an enabler and not decisive for driving growth:
Technology in the context of AI, ML and deep learning has taken huge steps in 2019. But human intelligence and intervention has never been more important. The right intervention with the right insights will lead the charge. Automation will enable Organisations to replicate success. It will not be ‘the’ reason for success or failure for that matter.