Marketing is one of the most misunderstood areas of business, and so it often becomes an area that is neglected. What good marketers know is that marketing is more about putting ideas into action than it is about having good ideas. Recent thinking about innovation also equates innovation to one idea and tons of commercialisation.
This gives rise to the concept of action marketing. Action marketing is aimed at creating a marketing architecture that enables a practical and customer driven marketing approach. Strangely, action marketing is not about having better brochures but about understand why and how your customer expresses their desires and having the brand to accelerate your impact into these markets. This leads to better brochures and a whole range of other elements in the business.
The action marketing process proposes that you take some very deliberate steps to reshape your market impact.
Scan the competitive landscape
All marketers are interested in their competitors. Knowing what competitors are doing is important – but we need to look at the market differently and ask who are creating what value in the market and answer how can we target this value? There are companies that cater for different target markets, at different price points and with different unique selling propositions. This allows them to extract value from the customer. The question the action marketer must answer is how market shifts will shift the value equation in the market place. Peteraf and Bergen (2003) argue that while companies may look the same on face value, that typically they have different capabilities and resources and that this differentiates them more than their image. Abebe (2012) highlights that companies that focus on scanning the market and adapting to customers, competitors and technology (market competencies) are more successful than organisations focusing on internal competencies such as process optimisation, debtors and finding better suppliers. Action marketing asks what capabilities we should develop to change the value equation in the marketplace.
Drill for insights and create experiences.
What makes it difficult for your customers to buy your services? Moving initially from intuition to data and then from data to insights is challenging for most marketers.
The objective of moving to data based reasoning is to find out what you can do better for your customers and what is creating pain for them. Initially the focus should be on eliminating the pain with your service and later to take away the pain experience from your competitors. Internet based market research allows for a much more targeted understanding of who is interested in you and who you can and should be talking to. Modern interactive marketing demands deeper understanding of customers and their behaviour and how they like to interact with the company and the ability to deliver personalised experiences, which they find useful and engaging.
There are few marketing, sales and service situations where an organisation is not able to gather the logistic, operational, marketing, sales and service data which tells the corporation whether the customer has been served well or not, and the number of situations where it cannot are diminishing (Stone and Woodcock, 2014). Stone and Woodcock (2014) further state that there is still significant work required to link business intelligence to customer insights. The action marketer takes customer insights and turns them into target markets with specific products and services.
Create brilliant customer journeys
It is not only about the product or service but also about the experience that gets created and for that experience to be relevant and memorable for your customer. This is often referred to as the customer journey.
This customer journey is different for different market segments. Do you know what the journey is for your main segments? Many marketers think they should create the journey, while action marketers realise that the customer is taking a journey and it is your task to discover it and optimise the experience.
Building the brand
Brands are not all about logos or brand statements. It is about the vision and values of the organisation and how you convince yourself, the organisation and the world that this set of values is worth buying into. There is something that you like or admire about most of the big brands. This story is one that got told and action marketers know it is about the story being told around a brand.
Win with social media
The mobile revolution is here to stay and is simply the most pervasive platform that gets used by the most people. 86 of every 100 people have a cell phone according to the UN telecom agency. That is more people than have cars, houses or any other utility. Social media and messaging platforms are critical to positioning your organisation correctly as it has such a wide reach. It allows you to transform both B2B and B2C marketing and new strategies for both must have a mobile component. An emerging idea is also that internal and external marketing is converging and more people want to be able to peer into your organisation and “live your brand”. Social media and messaging allows companies to become more transparent and the most transparent companies will have the best brands in years to come.
Execute your strategy
Action marketers know that to execute an effective strategy in marketing requires you to give all your employees the tools to execute the brand. Every employee and not just the marketing department execute a customer-focused culture. So marketing starts with recruitment and goes all the way through to every phone call and touch point with the organisation. The action marketer understands what happens at every touch point in the organisation and makes sure the brand “lives” at this point.
Capture more value
Tactical action marketing requires careful consideration of pricing and applying price psychology at every turn. The challenge is always to stay out of low-price competition and to create value and capture value.
Accelerate your impact
Action marketing is the start of change in an organisation. Markets shape organisations and action marketers are experts at change management. The action marketer understands that the business case for marketing is to accelerate change and that marketing has a direct contribution to the bottom line.
This article looks at the concept of action marketing and asks if marketing is driving change in your organisation or if it is simply the department that is asked to come up with ideas when you need to push something out. Action marketing requires organisations to use an external focus, get in touch with customers and optimise their journeys. It is also a highly iterative and interactive process that requires marketing to breathe and accelerate change in the organisation and to help every employee to refresh the product, pricing and positioning of the brand, its products and its brand identity.
© Riaan Steenberg – all rights reserved. www.riaansteenberg.com
Michael A. Abebe, (2012) “Executive attention patterns, environmental dynamism and corporate turnaround performance”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 33 Iss: 7, pp.684 – 701
Margaret A. Peteraf and Mark E. Bergen, (2003) “Scanning Dynamic Competitive Landscapes: A Market-Based And Resource-Based Framework”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol 24, pp 1027–1041
Merlin David Stone, Neil David Woodcock, (2014) “Interactive, direct and digital marketing: A future that depends on better use of business intelligence”, Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 8 Iss: 1, pp.4 – 17