Back 2 Basics: Establishing the Essentials for a Strong Marketing Strategy

Before marketers allow themselves to become preoccupied with social and mobile marketing tools, they must first ground themselves in the basic principles of multichannel strategy and customer centricity.

Many marketers today have come down with 'shiny object syndrome,' constantly chasing the next-best social monitoring platform, mobile engagement solution, or Web video advertising tool.In fact, a 2012 survey from StrongMail, showed email, social media, and mobile rank as marketers' top spending priorities for 2013, with 51.8 percent planning to boost spend on social media, and 42 percent planning to increase their mobile marketing spend.

While creativity is important to marketers' success, they shouldn't ignore the fundamental drivers of business growth, the tactical execution of campaigns, and the traditional marketing channels that have proven successful in the past.Marketers must seek balance as they look to embrace emerging technologies. Though a laser focus on such developing channels offers marketers the chance to remain on top of the trends, they forget to incorporate the underlying lessons traditional marketing taught them just yesterday. Professionals must be sure to put customers at the center of all strategic planning, enabling them to cater their approach to the brand's target market.

Observe and Understand Customer Behaviors and Habits

For marketers, a basic understanding of their consumer base must be established before they can effectively enact strategies that attract and retain customers. In many instances, companies dive into the social and mobile sphere because they believe they are the channels in which their customers prefer to connect. Many often don't realize that segments of the customer base may prefer to interact in an "old school" fashion, whether by phone or in person, to complete the interaction and close the deal. Marketers must collect data and observe trends in order to properly direct their approach toward those who will be most receptive.

"Mobile, social, and other new channels offer an opportunity to reach consumers on the go," says Jason Spievak, CEO of RingRevenue. "However, those consumers aren't converting on mobile. They are using these channels mainly as a research tool, and then are completing the sale via a different channel, often offline via the phone or in-person. Marketing methods need to match the consumer's behavior by integrating their functionality with traditional marketing channels to make them more powerful and effective." Ultimately, it's important for marketers to remember why traditional marketing methods were implemented in the first place, as they work when used in the right context.

According to Tim Riesterer, CMO and senior vice president strategic consulting at Corporate Visions, marketers have always seen themselves as professionals on the edge of big ideas. When it comes to social media and mobile technology, marketers not only see an opportunity to expand their reach, but also to cut overall costs within the department. But, what many marketers have a hard time adjusting to are the expectations that come with these "always on" platforms. Social and mobile thrive in real-time, yet many brands find it difficult to cope with the speed at which they must produce compelling content.

Automotive insurance companies, in particular, have taken to leveraging multichannel marketing in smart ways that allow them to include new trends and technologies without straying far from the basics. Such companies understand that everyone needs insurance, so they hone their techniques to attract the most attention. While creative social campaigns, innovative mobile applications, and clever television commercials are designed to catch the consumer's eye, easy access to phone numbers and informative display pieces, such as billboards, guide consumers toward the offline channels that have proven to convert prospects into customers. According to Gartner, 80 percent of potential customers will purchase their insurance policy offline after researching details online, and firms are sure to facilitate conversations that explain policies, rates, and discounts in ways that bridge the gap between traditional and new media.

"A marketer's greatest strength lies in understanding his or her customers," says Glenn Conradt, vice president of global marketing and North America for CoreMedia. "When you lose touch with the basics of marketing, start fresh with your audience. Take the opportunity to closely examine how your customers are segmented and define how you segment them based on personas. If you can understand their needs, goals, and aspirations, as well as the journey they take with your brand, you can create outstanding experiences that ultimately increase conversion."

Personalize Messaging to Bring Added Value to Relationships

Once companies understand their customers' behaviors, they can begin to apply what they've learned in order to cultivate personalized, targeted messages that boost the customer experience. Because social media and mobile technologies allow marketers to develop highly personalized, intimate communications that are timely and relevant, their worth cannot be denied. However, companies must work to integrate traditional channels with these new platforms to complement and enhance one another.

Riesterer notes that, often times, marketers tend to be too product centric when it comes to messaging instead of focusing on how their brand's given products and services impact the customer's life. Instead, marketers must develop their brand's story and how they tell it to convey meaning to the consumer and encourage their customer base to share their personal stories and the company's story with friends. Hart highlights that the brand's story must be something people can connect with on an emotional level, for touching customers at their core often sets one company apart from the competition without the use of technology or strategic planning. Marketers' primary goal shouldn't solely focus on the features and benefits of their given offering. Instead, strong messages not only attract prospects and retain current customers, but also promote advocacy, as customers develop a symbiotic, close relationship.

Spievak adds, "It is important to remember that, at the end of the day, every lead or customer wears an invisible sign that reads, 'I want to feel important.' With so many streams of electronic communication today, the relationship between brand and individual can often feel distant and impersonal.

It's also important to remember that customers want to choose how they interact with brands-whether by click or by call." Consumers simply want to contact companies in the way they see fit, and marketers should do everything in their power to ensure this need is met with seamless precision in today's multichannel world. Deep down, it doesn't matter what channels customers are using, for it is one single experience in their eyes. Make sure that every stop on the journey feels like a natural progression toward the end result.