According to Roisin Donnelly, Procter & Gamble’s North European brand director, Marketers are too hung up on platforms and are less concerned about actual customers! You can read further here: Roisin Donnelly Article. I have to say I totally agree! Since I finished my masters in marketing and launched myself into the world of entrepreneurship, the most common issue I encounter with clients, is their either part or complete abandonment and use of traditional marketing. All sense and sensibility has evaporated in the new love fest, that business owners have with digital marketing.
This is not to say that Digital marketing cannot be a large component of an overall marketing strategy, however I do believe that there are fundamental flaws within a marketing strategy that relies solely on digital marketing. My reason for stating this is that all customers are people and in reality customers want to be understood, if digital marketers ‘get’ this they will be truly successful.This means that market research will need to be carried out and an analysis of what customers need and on what platforms they prefer carried out, this in turn will direct the overall marketing strategy that will of course include digital.
Nowadays, I fear, rather than sit down and work out a proper and distinct marketing strategy, entrepreneurs, CEO’s and Business owners the world over have become enthralled and enraptured by the daily changing landscape of marketing technology. Rather than get down to business, there is a new mode of operating which means business owners spend an inordinate amount of their time, ‘posting’ on social media and other technological platforms without really knowing why and without truly knowing if there customers are on these platforms and actually see these marketing messages!
Phrases like being disruptive have become fashionable and are bandied about without really knowing what this truly means or indeed does this have any impact on a business owner’s customers and more importantly does knowing nearly every new technological advance actually help them make more sales? Startups, and more established businesses, have become so enthused with ‘disrupting’ current business practices that they fail to notice that their over reliance on a plethora of technology can in fact putting the success of their businesses at risk.
It is my experience that in reality business owners, startups and entrepreneurs actually really require a more in depth knowledge of their CUSTOMER’S needs and wants, before delving into the arena of technological advances and software.
Ironically, true disruption can only occur through the combined use of knowing your customers and then delivering a top class service / product that disrupts the marketplace. The difficulty is that Silicon Valley has had some notable successes such as Stripe, airbnb and Uber, to name but a few, however these disrupters are the exception rather than the rule and a deeper study of these successful disruptors proves the point that these technological disrupters, actually understood their customers needs first!
Overall the notion of being disruptive coined by Professor Clayton Christensen from Harvard Business School in the 1990’s, has led to dreamy eyed tech entrepreneurs diving into markets, where they focused on the tech side of the business rather than understanding the end user the customer!
An article by The Guardian cites how many of these ‘disruptive startups’, actually fail and that while some companies do actually ‘disrupt’ the world with positive products / services, in fact the vast majority of ‘disruptive’ companies are in fact just vaguely following a notion that implies great success and money, it is the celebrity aspect that they aspire to rather than actually solving real world consumer problems!
As such this notion of marketers and business owners focusing on just the tech side of their business is very one dimensional. To truly be successful one must combine the needs of the customers with technological advances that matter to them.
Social media is another medium that has been totally embraced by marketers the world over, however in their efforts to join every ‘new’ platform available, marketers and entrepreneurs often fail to understand the basic notion of understanding where their own customers actually hang out on social media! I have seen many business owners focusing on social media platforms that are in fact irrelevant to their own customer base.
Lessons to learn are:
- The only true way of finding out what your customers need and what social media platforms to focus on is by doing some ‘market research’.
- Business owners need to focus their efforts on one or two platforms that their customers are truly using.
- Entrepreneurs need to understand the true value of their product / service to the customer through effective market research
- If you are looking for ways of understanding your customers, a very simple thing to do is just ask them! Set yourself the task of interviewing at least ten of your customers, ideally record the session and make the time to go over the results. I guarantee you it will really serve your business and will be an eye opener for you the business