Changing the Marketing Mindset: Don't Target Consumers

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Customer Acquisition
Marketing
Consumers don't think of themselves as big game to be targeted and captured by marketers, but <em>The Onion</em> knows better. The parody publication published <a href="http://www.theonion.com/articles/more-corporations-using-tag-and-release-programs-t,36271/">an image</a> two weeks ago of a man lying face down in a parking lot with the caption, "A Procter & Gamble marketing team attaches a tracking collar to an incapacitated head-of-household specimen."

Consumers don't think of themselves as big game to be targeted and captured by marketers, but The Onion knows better. The parody publication published an image two weeks ago of a man lying face down in a parking lot with the caption, "A Procter & Gamble marketing team attaches a tracking collar to an incapacitated head-of-household specimen." The image and accompanying article have been zipping across the Internet because their message rings true; many companies approach people as targets to be studied and captured. This is a problem, according to experts.

"Marketers use words like targeting, converting, and capturing people, which implies that they're doing something to people instead of with them," said Glen Hartman, global managing director of Digital Transformation for Accenture Interactive. "But by switching to words like share, engage or help, they can provide a better customer experience."

In a survey of about 600 senior marketers, 62 percent of the respondents believe their company provides a good customer experience and 78 percent believe marketing will undergo fundamental changes over the next five years.

There is an opportunity for companies to provide an even better experience for their customers and drive greater results, Hartman commented. "The data and the tools are there. It's now up to the CMO to step up and work with the CTO and CEO on driving this transformation," he said.

The bar for excellent customer experience continues to rise, but meeting it is critical for companies to remain competitive, pointed out analysts at Forrester Research's Forum for Customer Experience Professionals East this week.

The conference's theme was "Why Good Is Not Enough." Competition across industries is increasing and huge enterprises like Google and Amazon are entering other spaces, such as the connected-home market and the smartphone market, respectively, putting pressure on other companies to improve their services and offerings.

"If all you're competing on is price, then you're lost," noted Mercedes-Benz USA CEO and President Stephen Cannon during a keynote speech. A great customer experience is one that leads to a loyal customer, explained Principal Forrester analyst Megan Burns.

To gain loyal customers, companies should remember the three Es: Effectiveness, ease and, emotion. Businesses should pay particular attention to emotion, Burns added, since research shows it carries the most weight in a person's purchase decision.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION