5 Marketing “Shoulds” in an Overwhelming List of “Coulds”


Marketing decision making is often could versus should.

You’ve heard the adage, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” This is especially true in marketing, where the ever-so-tempting list of “coulds” is lengthy at best and overwhelming at worst.

With that in mind, I asked five industry insiders the following when we met at DMA’s &THEN 2016 conference: There’s so much pressure on marketers today, and so many things they “could” do. What is one thing from that big list of “coulds” that marketers should do, and one “could” that they should just pass on?

Here’s their advice…

Kevin Dean, president and GM of targeting, Experian Marketing ServicesKevin Dean, president and GM of targeting, Experian Marketing Services

Marketers can get themselves sideways with “I have to do X” and get caught up in the technology they need to support X. Instead, they should ask “What am I solving for?” They need to work backward from the consumer. Doing so starts with getting insights on their consumers to paint that customer picture. That’s when marketers start to have a framework on how they should be engaging consumers—and then they can look at the technology.

We hear a lot of “I’ve gotta have it now” [in terms of technology]. Marketers need to stop and first decide what they want customers to do. When they do that, they often see that they don’t need all the [sophisticated tools] they think they do.

My advice: Don’t jump in with something you don’t need. Let your consumers and what you’re trying to accomplish dictate your plan.

Stacey Hawes, president, data, EpsilonStacey Hawes, president, data, Epsilon

Marketers should be working on consumer identification and linking, so they understand that person X is the same person on email, on mobile, etc.—because you can’t provide a seamless experience across channels if you don’t. And, yes, it’s a challenge.

I come it at from a data perspective. Marketers shouldn’t bring in as much data as they possibly can. But, often, that’s their first inclination. They don’t have the room to store it, the resources to manage it, or the skilled staff required for the data reduction they’d need to do. I recommend that marketers take the data they need most first and go slowly into [adding more].

Also, beware of the desire to use the data in every possible way in every possible channel. Have your foundation in order: Start with the data that you need to be successful. Then test, test, test. That shouldn’t change just because technology is more advanced. Keep true to essential marketing disciplines like A/B testing.

Josh Reynolds, head of marketing and client consulting, QuantifindJosh Reynolds, head of marketing and client consulting, Quantifind

Let me blow up the question slightly: The real problem facing marketers is that they feel like they’re in a catch-22 between profit and purpose. Marketers are under more pressure than ever to deliver quarterly results. The way I frame it this: You can focus on your purpose and also get profit, but not the reverse.

If you play the near-term-only game and chase the numbers, it’s a race to the bottom. But if you stand for something and resonate with customers, the profit will come.

That said, you must still qualify your impact. It’s no surprise, then, that two out of thee CMOs say profit analytics is a top priority, according to a Deloitte CMO study. But that same study reveals that seven of every 10 marketers are still struggling with using profit analytics. Marketers need to get conversant in analytics.

Dave Panek, SVP of marketing, AprimoDave Panek, SVP of marketing, Aprimo

The top-level problem is that it’s now a digital-first world and it’s become chaotic for everyone involved in marketing, from the CMO on down. There are more channels to connect with customers, which requires more content, but marketing resources remain fairly stable. So, there’s a gap developing in being able to manage marketing resources. And that’s leading to a gap in the ability to deliver content in a meaningful way. Marketers who can optimize their resources can raise the value of their marketing.

Bill Burkart, president, data management, WundermanBill Burkart, president, data management, Wunderman

The concept of digital transformation is one that marketers need to address. So much of our lives today are digitally driven, and it seems like so many marketers are digitally driven, as well—but they’re not. And the larger the company, the slower the movement.

One step marketers can take is to improve the relevance of their communications. That promise of one-to-one is being realized, but not by the largest brands. Marketers not yet ready for one-to-one at scale need to think instead about basic segmentation rules that they can use segmentation to make the conversation more relevant. For example, it’s not about, “How can my brand can reach millennials?” It’s about, “How can I reach my 10 core segments?”

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Also from DMA’s &THEN 2016 conference:

7 Decision Drivers Marketers Can Tap to Influence Customer Behavior
Data: The New Marketing Currency in a Time of Change
The Happy (Re)Marriage of First- and Third-Party Data
Why CMOs Are, In Fact, Chief Mystery Officers
Marketers Live in an “and” World
POPSUGAR Uses Data to Sweeten Its Marketing Performance