Six Marketing Reminders

It’s always enjoyable to learn about the ‘next big thing,’ and it’s easy to get caught up in the latest marketing push or tactic. Unfortunately, in all that excitement, we can find ourselves hopping on the tactical bandwagon just because it’s new and intriguing—but in turn we can easily forget about the essentials. How long did the Pokémon craze last? My point exactly.

I recently attended the 2016 Brand Summit in Los Angeles by AdAge, and though I picked up some great tips, the experience ultimately prompted a few key reminders as a marketer.

1.      Remember, it’s as much about prompting our customers as it is about inviting our customers.

You may have heard the adage, ‘Half my marketing is working; I just don’t know which half.’ Marketers spend a lot of time trying to engage, charge and motivate customers into buying. But sometimes it’s easy to forget the reason those customers came to us in the first place and why they’re loyal to our brand.

This reminder brought up a recent scenario with a Zion & Zion client, Shoppers Supply, wherein we’ve created ads, coupons, promotions and email campaigns, all focused on the product, coupons, and sales, i.e. “buy now.” Yet, we know from our research that these customers are highly connected to the Shoppers Supply brand because of their love for the land. They play in it, ride in it, dig in it, garden in it, hunt on it, etc. So, always remember to speak their language in the context of their mindset (it’s not all about you), and invite them to participate in the brand, even when we’re asking them to buy something from you.

Ensure both halves are working!

2.      Remember to always be curious and in a constant state of observation regarding your customer.

Do you remember the song Walking in L.A. by Missing Persons? Well, I happened to be walking in L.A. and saw a Goodwill store—Goodwill of Central Arizona happens to be a client of ours, and it dawned on me (since we work on the 70+ locations in Arizona), that by a simple observation out of my normal context, I looked at the store totally differently than I had when I walked by one in Arizona. With a curious mind now open, a new thought arose in my mind. As I looked at the L.A. facility with this new context, I realized that maybe different generations perceive the organization differently depending upon their own experiences or lack of exposure over time or from hearsay. This generated a great insight and opportunity for us to present Goodwill in a new light to a new generation, i.e. this isn’t your grandparent’s Goodwill anymore.

Stay curious my friend!

3.      Remember to anticipate and manage the lifecycle of your customer base.

Maybe I’m a bit biased being a Baby Boomer, but as a marketer, all I hear these days is “Millennials, Millennials, Millennials.” It seems that every client is overly focused on positioning themselves in regards to this market segment. Why? Yes; studies show they are the largest (up and coming) market, but they also don’t have the financial wherewithal to support consumerism like the retiring Baby Boomers or even Generation X.

Stepping out of my Boomer shoes and into my unbiased observer shoes led us to an opportunity to leverage both. A Zion & Zion client Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona recently had a business challenge, and as a non-profit, they struggled to be able to handle a major shift in their business lifecycle with very limited funds. Utilizing a single strategy focused on an insight specific to the donor WIIFM (what’s in it for me) which held a universal appeal for multiple audiences (rather than the obvious; we build homes), the client and Zion & Zion split our resources. We had the client, Habitat for Humanity, focus on their existing customer base (mostly Baby Boomers) for ongoing fund-raising, while we used the same strategy to focus on keeping their pipeline full of new customers (GenX and Millennials) as they age into a stronger financial standing.

Strength in numbers!

4.      Remember ‘why’ your business exists and how the ‘why’ serves your customers.

Years ago, I was a big advocate of the following statement: “By definition, when you make something no one hates, no one loves it,” Tibor Kalman. However, when I recently read Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why, it just reinforced an ongoing shift in philosophy that’s been happening over the past 25 years of my career, meaning it’s neither loving or hating, but rather about the why.

Ben Steele, Chief Creative Officer at REI spoke at the conference and provided a keen reminder of why sending all your employees out for the day, directly backs the why of the company’s existence, and why it made great business sense. #OptOutside. Rather than pushing deals on the biggest shopping day of the year (Black Friday), REI chose to focus its efforts on encouraging its customers (and employees) to enjoy the outdoors – a direct correlation to the company’s values and its customers’ values. Ben Steele stated 7.9M media impressions and a 7,000% increase in social media later, it’s hard to dispute why it’s crucial to remember why you’re in business.

Another example was when Michael Dubin (CEO of Dollar Shave Club) spoke at the conference about how humor and viral social media led to the company’s $1 billion-dollar buyout by Unilever. Yet, if you listened past the obvious, you’ll realize that he also stated why he felt the company could accomplish this goal. The humor and social media were a great means to deliver the message, but the message (the why or benefit to the audience) had to do with their understanding that males have become very conscious of their appearances, as well as, conscious of their wallets. This combined insight led to constructing the business based around the why, and in turn allowed them to disrupt the traditional business model and compete with the big-name brands, versus a focus on the tactical delivery mechanisms of humor and social media.

The Golden Circle, rules!

5.      Remember the concept of an omni-channel world as a strategic approach.

One of the latest buzz words in the media realm is ‘omni-channel’ whereby marketers recognize their audiences are behaving in a manner in which they utilize multiple devices and/or platforms throughout their journey of researching and ultimately buying a product or service. This perspective can be applied to other endeavors as well; research and insight generation for example. It’s easy to look at a single data set and assume or conclude an answer, but we always need to factor in correlation (chance) versus causation (direct link or relationship). So, view any scenario through the lens of ‘omni’ sources of research, and even potentially how they influence one another before you jump to a conclusion. And to add another layer of opportunity, remember to use ‘omni’ techniques when thinking about insight generation, i.e. take a tip from the Central Intelligence Agency (source: A Tradecraft Primer: Structured Analytic Techniques for Improving Intelligence Analysis, US Government, March 2009). The CIA uses three key techniques: Diagnostic, Contrarian, and Imaginative, with several sub-methods of engaging each of these techniques to take an omni-view of multiple possible scenarios.

No more rose-colored glasses!

6.      Remember what was doesn’t necessarily imply what will come to be.

Data typically illustrates what has happened, i.e. data-driven decision making or understandings based on what’s already occurred. On the other hand, creativity is associated with what could be or new possibilities based on ideation. But think about the possibility of data creating a new idea, a new image, or a future possibility – the dream of artificial intelligence. Check out and you’ll see a painting that could easily stand alongside numerous Rembrandt masterpieces, yet it was recently painted (created in conjunction with Google) using data from algorithms used to analyze his previous paintings to create a brand-new ‘Rembrandt.’ Within this reversal, you’ll start to see more and more examples in which data is used to create, e.g. Persado provides an auto-generated call-to-action into your copy with no live person or copywriter, and Spotify illustrates creative solution based on pure data.

Pencils down!

So, in conclusion, remember the past and what we’ve learned from historical information, but also remember to let go of the past to create and start new beginnings.