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The strategic age of Magnetic Marketing?

August 21, 2020


The strategic age of Magnetic Marketing?

As we gear up for fall, lots of us are going to be talking strategy. In fact, some of us have probably been talking strategy since last fall! We got our 2020 Plans approved, only to up-end everything in the first quarter of the year. We’ve been revising and maybe in some cases simply reacting to stay in stock, pretty much ever since, as we can keep adjusting to the changing world around us.

Lots of us are looking forward to getting back to “normal” or the new normal or the next normal. Before we get too deep in this, it helps to take a step back and look at the trajectory of marketing strategies as a whole. Where have we been as strategists, and where are we going? What can we expect next, and how can we start prepping for that now?

A Quick History of Marketing Strategies

The word strategy didn’t get thrown around much in marketing departments until the 1950s and 1960s. Marketing existed before then—absolutely! We’ve had the idea of the sales funnel since the late 1800s. We can dig back into ad history to see how marketing pioneers hawked their wares to our ancestors.

But formal strategy didn’t enter the picture until mid-century. That aligns with the post-War boom and the rise of consumer capitalism. Think shopping malls, Betty and Wilma yelling “charge it!” to their newfangled credit cards, and Mad Men-esque advertising mavericks.

By the 1980s, strategy was firmly entrenched. This is where we see lots of the traditional tactics start to codify. Then consumers started to get smarter and more skeptical about brands. So strategies started to evolve.

Then came the Internet and digital marketing was born. Since then, strategy has evolved rapidly—in part because our relationships with our customers have changed so much.

The Internet made globalization more possible, so it’s easier to reach out to customers almost anywhere. We need to adjust our strategies to reach an incredibly diverse audience, using different devices, in different places, and all wanting (seemingly) different things.

Where We Were: Push Marketing

Classic marketing strategies rely on what we’ll call “push” tactics. You, as the Marketer, put the message out there.

Think about what gets grouped under “traditional” sales and marketing tactics:

·          TV and radio ads

·          Cold calling

·          Print ads

·          Mailing campaigns

·          Billboard ads

·          Press releases

What do all these tactics have in common? They push your message to the consumer. You put the message out there, often to a passive audience.

That audience may or may not be receptive what you’re putting out there. They might not notice your billboard ad, or they may toss your brochure in the recycling. They might hang up on a cold caller or skip right by your ad.

The other thing here is that these tactics are really hard to measure. You can’t tell if the customer is doing anything with them. You don’t really know if they’re working or not, if your customers are responding to the messaging.

Where We Are Now: Magnetic Marketing

Now flash-forward and you’ll see a whole different story. Today, traditional marketing tactics won’t get you quite as far—and for quite a few reasons.

One, the landscape has changed so much. We used to be able to know that if we put an ad on CBC during Hockey Night in Canada, so many eyeballs would be tuning in.

Today, the audience is much more fragmented. Some may be on their mobile phone or tablet watching the game. Some are watching via TSN’s streaming service or the NHL channel. And others have swapped hockey for Netflix or Disney+.

Still others aren’t watching TV at all. They’re visiting websites, hanging out on social media, streaming music over Spotify.

And all this could be going on in the same household! The broadcast tactics we used before have been broken up.

What’s more is we as consumers have more choice about advertising than ever before. Plenty of us will skip ads on YouTube when they crop up or we’ll use ad blockers so we don’t see them on the websites we visit. (Remember websites that used to crash your browser with all their pop-ups?)

The long and short of this is we’re in control about the brands we interact with and when we interact with them!

Consider this: B2B buyers can be anywhere between 45 and 90 percent of the way through their buying journey before they reach out to you. Most consumers are doing at least some research. We can thank the Internet for that: it’s made doing research so much simpler.

So, what can we as Marketers do? Lots of us are working on what we can think of as “magnetic marketing.” Instead of pushing our messages out, we try to pull the customer in. Content marketing is the best example of this. We put out a vlog or a blog post or even just a tweet, and our customers can interact with it—or not. It’s on them.

And this is what our customers want from us! They’re already searching for the information, doing the research. The least we can do for them is put the information out there.

We’re still trying to get the customer’s attention and draw them in. But we can think of this “magnetic” strategy as half-step toward what’s coming next.

Where We’re Going: Reverse Marketing

With reverse marketing, the customer is completely in the driver’s seat. We’re heading into an age of unprecedented customization. Take a look at 3D printers: you can print a single pair of shoes, any colour, any customization you like. You want pink shoes? Done. The next person comes along and wants those shoes in blue. No problem!

Marketing is going the same way. We have so much data at our fingertips. We can use data analysis and AI to push the right messages, the right deals to a customer at the exact right time. When was the last time you ordered contact lenses? We have that data in our system, and we know you ordered a six-month supply! We can send you a friendly reminder to stock up again before you run out—and we’ll toss in a discount while we’re at it.

More and more, customers are telling us what they want from us. We’re no longer doing all the talking and our customers aren’t passive audiences listening to whatever we think they want to hear from us. Instead, we have to listen to them.

Our customers will tell us what they want—if we listen. They’ll tell us about the kinds of problems they have, the things they wish they could buy. They’ll tell us what will make a product better or what they would invest in.

And more and more, we’re going to have the ability to deliver—even as one-off, customized items. Today, the best we might be able to do will be a personalized deal or a customized shopping list. Tomorrow—custom shoes sized perfectly to your feet, in the exact shade of pink you want.

If this is where marketing is heading, what can we do to our strategies to prepare for it?

We can start listening. We can start opening up these conversations with our customers today. We can do research for the sake of research, asking open-ended questions to learn and explore and create!

This is strategic, and it’s going to lead us into this next revolution in marketing. By starting these conversations now, we can get a better idea of who our customers are and what they want from us. We can begin building better relationships with them now.

When we do, we’ll be in a better position to see what’s on the horizon, to tap into trends before they even become trends. Instead of always being one step behind, we can put ourselves in a position to be ahead of the curve, leading the way, and delivering exactly what our customers want—maybe before they even knew what it was they wanted.

Magnetic Marketing Leads to Reverse

The good news is a lot of what we’re doing in our magnetic marketing strategies translates to reverse marketing. Our customers are already becoming more independent. They’re already speaking up, interacting with us more.

We’re also collecting data and using it to create better experiences for them with personalized offers and customized website experiences.

What we need to do now is put the focus on those open-ended conversations. In a lot of ways, we should be having these conversations anyway—they’re great foundations for better relationships. They can pave the way to better understandings of our own brand identities.

In short, we need to think less about how we can “draw” customers in and more about how we can engage with them authentically, for the long-term.

Every great marketing strategy starts with the same question: why. Start with the why, and the how will follow!


Meet Margo…brand visioning & marketing

Margo Jay is a Master Brand Strategist with a career leading globally recognized brands; developing and launching a proven model that maximizes competitive sales potential and consumer appeal. She has built the model to help companies of all sizes. Her Client roster includes entrepreneurs through to Fortune 100 brands: NHL teams, Global QSR brands, CPG brands, Broadcast brands, Agencies, Non Profit brands, Hard goods…this model and process provides competitive advantage in any category.

Complete clarity. Ownable distinct selling proposition. Shared values. Brand Clarity. Brand Focus. Brand Inspiration. Brand Obsession. Unlocking brand potential is what she does.

And it all starts with why!

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