Today I was struck with how many people are writing and debating about the secrets to successful marketing. Seth Godin has a new book out; the CMO Council has released a major report on B2B marketing; and I stumbled across a blog that challenges the validity of the classic marketing funnel. Pure brain candy.
Thanks to a short break between client engagements, I was able to indulge in some of the latest thinking, spanning the gamut from consumer-centric marketing pundits to B2B gurus. Here’s a quick tour of today’s nuggets.
Getting Marketing Back In Synch
Today I attended a webinar featuring Seth Godin who was launching his latest marketing provocation, Meatball Sundae.
Godin’s new book outlines the 14 key themes that are reshaping the marketing landscape. Whether you specialize in B2B or B2C marketing, there’s something here for everyone to consider. As a case in point, Godin opines that scarcity and abundance create wonderful opportunities — but between them lies the curse of mediocrity and obscurity.
What I liked most is his recommendation that marketers take responsibility for crafting the customer’s entire experience, from product inception through to delivery and the product’s integration into the customer’s life. This means rethinking the value chain, from the factory to the point of consumption. It’s another take on his theme of meaningful differentiation.
To explain what he means, his webinar (and probably the book) cite a stream of business innovations from Josiah Wedgewood (whom Godin calls the greatest marketer of all time).
Wedgewood innovated in many ways, such as:
- branding things made of clay (pottery in all forms) — even 200 years later, we can still recognize the traditional Wedgewood pottery, thanks to brand characteristics that are intrinsic to those products
- introducing the first product showrooms in London (think Nike Town, circa 1700’s)
- persuading the British powers-that-be to build canals to his factory so Wedgewood could reliably transport their fragile products via their distribution channels to their end-customers
- leveraging the power of “lighthouse customers” and word-of-mouth marketing — by sending a full set of product samples to the crowned heads of Europe (at great personal expense to Josiah Wedgewood)
After all these stories, I’ll look differently at the Wedgewood china we inherited from our in-laws…
Aspiring to Customer Affinity
I was equally impressed today with a recent report sponsored by the CMO Council on Customer Affinity: The New Measure of Marketing. Although the writing lacks the lighthearted fun of Meatball Sundae, there’s great food for thought in this report on how to drive superior relationships with customers.
Here’s a nugget (their definition of customer affinity):
…Customer affinity is more meaningful than customer satisfaction, loyalty or advocacy. Customer affinity goes beyond current, top of mind perceptions; it looks into the depth, breadth, and importance of the customer-vendor relationship in order to determine its capacity for sustainability, strategic value and trusted, long-term engagement. Indeed, we have found distinct differences in this study between customer advocacy, which is basically a willingness to refer a vendor, and customer affinity. We believe that customer affinity is the more powerful and substantive issue for vendors, channel partners and customers alike. In today’s fast-changing and disruptive markets, superior customer interaction may be the most essential competitive advantage.
For people engaged in B2B marketing, this report is definitely worth reading.
Is the Marketing Funnel Still Valid?
Last summer David Armano raised the question of whether a spiral might be a better alternative to the classic marketing funnel as a metaphor for the core marketing function. His blog sparked a lot of debate.
Check out his blog to see his thinking and how he illustrates his ideas, as he reflects on some 2007 thought pieces from Forrester regarding marketing best practices.
Armano’s key point is that if customer engagement matters — if there’s some form of interaction among customers, or between the customer and the vendor — then a spiral might be a more useful mental construct.
Here’s Armano’s illustration. The interesting question is, how valid is this concept for B2B enterprise products, particularly those that fall into infrastructure categories? It’s easy to imagine its relevance for consumer product categories, in which the end user cares enough about the product to engage in a conversation with others.
To me the question isn’t either/or — it’s both/and.