Three Principles for the Future of Marketing

The TunnelIn the future, marketing must be valuable. But that isn’t enough.

Earlier this week, Michael Brenner outlined the future of marketing, drawing from last fall’s future of advertising article in Fast Company. It is a great perspective. The question is, how do you accomplish it? How do you, as Michael said, “create communities of customer advocates and evangelists”?

There are three principles to excel in the future of marketing that Michael presented and create the advocates and evangelists that will drive your brand. These are the lights you strive towards, not a destination you ever reach (although as a consumer, I wish every marketer could!)

  • Your marketing must become so valuable the audience would miss it.
  • Your product and service must always exceed expectations.
  • You must put your audience’s needs first.

Please Market to Me!

Valuable marketing is just the beginning. When every company has valuable marketing, any company will do. Getting participation on a webcast or a passing a grade on your website feedback survey isn’t nearly enough.

Does your marketing have a following like Grey’s Anatomy? Does your audience always want more? Will they scream “Bring it Back!” if you stop marketing? Any marketer that can answer that question with an honest and resounding yes has an audience to begin mobilizing.

Wow, You Are Amazing!

No one is excited to work with a company that merely meets their expectations, and you need more than just a customer. You need an advocate and an evangelist. You need to exceed expectations, raise expectations and exceed them again. You need customers that are so satisfied they simply cannot contain their surprise and excitement.

Thank You for Always Thinking of Me!

You have heard the line “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Why is even more important for advocacy. When I know you have a great product, I might recommend it. When I know what your company believes in and I see your belief come to life in your product, I can confidently recommend it, knowing it will continue to be a great product.

Yes, these principles are unattainable. Every one of these principles must be assessed from the perspective of your potential advocates and if it is attained, expectations will simply be reset higher. But just like six sigma in manufacturing is born out of a constant pursuit of an unattainable standard, marketers that set aside their internal and self-serving view and pursue constant improvement against these principles will see incredible results.

Your Turn. This is an extreme set of principles, will pursuing these principles benefit marketers? Is there a 180 degree different direction that will drive the advocacy and evangelism Michael referenced in his post? Share your perspective in the comments below or with me on Twitter.

About Eric Wittlake

I am a digital and B2B marketer with a background in online media and analytics. I work with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs. You can connect with me on Twitter at @wittlake or in the comments here on my Digital B2B Marketing blog.

8 Responses to Three Principles for the Future of Marketing

  1. Eric, excellent post, especially the part about the importance of expressing the “Why”, instead of the “What” in your marketing. In the age of information overload, it is difficult to create marketing that would actually be missed by the target audience, but this is an excellent objective to strive towards. Also, I agree with what you said about the audience’s perception that you actually believe in your own products and services – after all, confidence is contagious.

    Chris Ryan
    Fusion Marketing Partners

    • Chris, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

      You make a good point, with so much information available, how do you really stand out? I tried to avoid implying “content” as I wrote the post. It is certainly one way to provide value, but it is such a common way in some categories now that there are 100 substitutes for your content available. It is valuable, but it will take more to set your marketing apart.

      Thanks again for the comment and highlighting one of the key challenges!

  2. Eric,

    First let me just say that I am honored for the mention, the link and support! I also liked your point in my comments about the future of marketing being a competition for which company can add more value in their marketing.

    I think we’re starting to see this with more companies using mobile and gaming as a way to entertain and inform (check out IBM’s Innov8).

    Great post and thanks again!

    Best, Michael

    • Michael,

      Thank you for the inspiration! Your post helped me pull together my thoughts on the topic, and then the comments here and on Twitter help refine it.

      Appreciate you kicking it off and the continuing support you have provided me here, Thank You!

  3. Danyel says:

    Great post! I actually don’t think this is extreme at all. Perhaps in the B2B space it may seen a bit flashy, but it’s 100% spot on. There are marketers out there that have become so popular and viral that they do garner a following as rabid as that of Grey’s Anatomy, people who crave their content and what they stand for. Passion, integrity, purpose, all of those things give consumers a reason to want to align themselves with a brand. Consumers want to do business with brands that are not only like-minded but that stand for something besides sales. Duh!

    Thanks for bringing the smarts!

    Danyel O’Neil

  4. Sometimes, as revenue generation support folks, we ask the wrong questions. I’d really recommend that anyone supporting a B2B w/a direct sales force read Jill Konrath’s book Snap Selling. B2B Buyers don’t have time to do many aspects of their own jobs well, let alone be evangelists for the rest of us. Should we hope and strategize that some smaller % of satisfied customers (5%, 10% – really all we’d need) would provide a testimonial, referral or case study? ABSOLUTELY.

    But do you see how when we asks questions like “how do we create communities of customer advocates and evangelists,” we could allocate a lot of resources to something that’s both unattainable and unnecessary? While other, more valuable sales support goes missing?

    I concur that now and in the future, marketing must be valuable. I think your second bullet should be first (product and service), third bullet should be second, and I’m not convinced that (in my B2B space anyway) your first bullet is relevant.

    Similarly, I’m completely on board with Please Market to Me, and Wow You Are Amazing. In the complex sale, post roll-out, the Thanks For Always Thinking of Me is appropriate for client to think about salesperson, but not necessarily Marketing.

    I love love love that you are pressing our peers to do some great analysis. If we could stop thinking of ourselves as Marketers (or, ok, change our perceptions of what Marketing does), it’d be much easier to determine how to help our revenue generators land more new and maintain/grow their base.

    You rock, man.

    • LOL. You disagree, you love what I’m doing, and you say I rock. Where do I begin? 🙂

      I like your priority comment about putting the customer experience first, it certainly starts with the real experience your customers have.

      What was interesting about Michael’s post was the idea that great businesses will create advocates organically (he didn’t say it, but the post made me think that). It isn’t every customer as you point out, but what gives you a greater chance of creating advocacy? The optional part is really marketing, but I can’t leave marketing out of the future of marketing. [Or can I? An interesting thought!]

      Thank you for the comment here and continuing to challenge me to refine and reconsider my opinion, I REALLY appreciate it.

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