I began this series outlining the disruptive changes being forced on the industry by Google and Apple. This is a great time to start fundamentally rethinking marketing for the digital world. For far too long, marketers have ignored the most important task: building deep relationships with their existing customers, persuading them to share data to personalise the journey and messages, and constructing differentiated experiences for the Best. Instead, marketers fed the Google and Facebook machines for the past decade to the extent that they have now become the money-guzzling monsters that need to be constantly fed via auctions in an arms race where brands can never win. It is time for marketers to reclaim the relationships with their own customers.
Marketing’s early and glory days consisted of direct marketing and CRM (customer relationship marketing). With the advent of digital and the explosion of data, the ‘direct’ was forgotten, and in stepped the gatekeepers – they now had the direct relationships and brands were forced to pay to play. CRM which once was a tool for building customer pyramids and focusing on those at the top. Marketers got lost in the deluge of data and forgot about differentiation. They had so many customers to reach out to! Instead of using messaging as the means to the end (attention and action), the message became the end. Measurement was less about profits in a world of infinite, easy money but all about fuzzy metrics of opens, clicks, installs, DAUs, MAUs. The Best were ignored and they have responded by ignoring the brand.
Marketing needs to return to its roots. The Best-Rest-Next framework with a reprioritisation of budgetary allocations is the right response to the disruption that awaits marketers. Focus on the customers rather than cookies, collect data rather than device identifiers, reward attention and not just the transaction – this is the way forward for marketers.
The digital advertising and marketing industries needed a jolt – and it has got it. It is time to ride the disruption, change the focus, go back to the basics, eliminate complexity and waste, put the customer at the centre, marginalise intermediaries like Google and Facebook, and create a new beautiful world of direct brand-customer relationships. It is time to simplify marketing, go direct, and delight customers. The starting point is straightforward: create two new teams for Best and Rest customers, and fund them with a third of the acquisition budget. Else, the only two profipoly companies will be Google and Facebook. It is a choice every CEO and marketer has to make.