Challenging yourself to be great in the era of experience–driven marketing.

Question… when was the last time you revived your marketing plan? I’m not talking making tweaks here and there – I’m talking, turn off the email, break out the white board, pop open a Red Bull – type revamping. I mean, sure leads are getting tight, maybe plateauing if you’re lucky – but that’s the down economy right? Or is it? Truth is marketing isn’t the same as it was even 5 years ago because the customer landscape has shifted. The way your customer consumes information, their expectations for service and communication, and lifestyle needs have all changed. This isn’t news to you… but if you know this, then why are you talking to them as if this shift hasn’t happened? You know what you need to do. Yes change can feel daunting, but it also can be a really exciting ride.

Here are 3 important questions to ask yourself:

Has the core of your marketing plan carried over year after year with few revisions?
Is your marketing plan just a spreadsheet of media buys that end up driving creative executions?
Do you separate your digital and traditional executions? Do you keep tabs on digital v. traditional spend?
If you answered yes to any of these, then it’s time to step back and rethink your approach. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you change everything you’re doing now – after this is all said and done, you’ll likely have many of the same tactics on your list that you have now. What I am suggesting is that you give a fresh perspective and approach to everything you’re doing. Here are 3 tips to keep in mind as you’re doing this:

Think strategy first, planning & execution second.
Push yourself to think further through the consumer experience than you have before.
Think of digital and traditional as one complete execution – the reality is you need both and elements of digital touch almost every marketing piece you will ever produce from here on out.
“Think of digital and traditional as one complete execution.”
Once you shift your thinking accordingly, you’ll realize you don’t have to spend much more (if any) than you’re spending now, but your efforts will be much more efficient and integrated – resulting in higher returns and improved overall experience.

Let’s look at some experience evolution examples. Here’s a “traditional” direct mail execution:

There’s really nothing “wrong” with this approach. In fact it’s fairly standard, and what we as marketers unfortunately get in the rut of producing. But, pushing to think further through the experience, here’s an example of an evolution of the same direct mail piece.

This second execution takes into consideration the different ways people will be consuming and acting on your message and gives them options and tailored experiences through each. It also adds extra convenience features and gives them an opportunity to refer your product to others. Again, thinking further through the consumer experience. The best part is it shouldn’t cost much more, if any, than you’re already spending and has much greater impact. Don’t believe me? You know how easy it is to use your Content Management System to create landing pages for promotions, and I’m sure you do that often. To take that idea further, you can have a mobile CMS template developed which will allow you to freely create landing pages appropriate for mobile consumption – which will greatly increase your promotional response.

Take a look at one more example: Radio. Radio can still work well if you’re looking to saturate the market or if you rely on the drive time spots to create extra foot traffic. And yes there are lots of options available– radio stations, Pandora, Satellite, etc. But thinking about radio execution as a whole, take a second to think about your messaging and what you’re asking people to do. Definitely phone number CTA is important, but pointing people to your desktop website may not be your best bet anymore. Remember those mobile landing pages? Try pointing people to a mobile landing page with a special offer, click to call and directions to the closest location. They’re likely in the car, let’s help them get to your store, schedule an appointment, etc.

There’s a similar experience evolution for almost every marketing medium – TV, email, print ads, display ads, search marketing and even the way you’re approaching your website.

As you approach the next quarter or calendar year, take a moment to think about how you came up with your plan. Was it a matter of choosing individual tactics, maneuvering the buy around until the numbers fit and then developing creative? Or was it really approached from a strategic, consumer experience-driven perspective? Chances are, with a little strategic planning (and some Red Bull), you could take your same budget and mostly same tactics and develop an integrated campaign that would not only meet the demands of today’s customer, but would challenge your thinking and be really fun in the process.