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First-party data – what is it, and why do we care?

June 21, 2022

I’m going to take a couple of weeks to focus on one of the buzzwords of the day: first-party data. It’s becoming more critical to marketers every day.

First-party data is information a company collects directly from its customers and owns. First-party data (also known as 1P data) is part of the mosaic of data marketers have at their disposal. It can complement, enhance and reduce the need for other types of data.

First-party data is the holy grail. Any organization that is not collecting and using first-party data from its own website, email campaigns and other on- and offline marketing efforts is missing a golden opportunity. Collecting, learning from and taking control of your first-party data should be a priority if you want to increase revenue, reduce marketing spend, learn from the asset, and use it to nurture and expand your most valuable audiences, deepen your connection with consumers and vastly increase your hit rate.

Because you’re collecting it directly from the source, you know it’s accurate, and because it comes straight from your audience, you know it’s relevant to your business. And in today’s increased privacy environment, the privacy concerns surrounding your first-party data and what you can and can’t do with it are minimal because you can prove exactly where it came from.

Second-party data is someone else’s first-party data that they are willing to sell to you. The seller collects data straight from their audience, and it all comes from one source. Like your own first-party data, you can rely on its accuracy because of how it was harvested.

You would buy second-party data directly from the company that owns it. There’s no middleman, like a DSP or digital media platform, involved in the transaction. It requires you to seek out companies with data you need and form a relationship with them. But their data is more accurate and clean, as opposed to buying data that has been aggregated from a variety of sources.

These transactions offer a lot of transparency and little risk because you work directly with the organization that cultivated and owns the data. You and they have shared control over what you buy, the terms of sale and how the information gets used.

An example might be a trade association that serves an audience you want to reach.

Third-party data is data that you buy from outside, from sellers who are not the original collectors of that data. These large data aggregators pay publishers and other data owners for their first-party data. In the good old days of marketing, we called these people list brokers.

The aggregators then collect it into one large data set and sell it as third-party data after they carefully scrub and organize it in a way that makes it more useful to the buyer.

After collecting the data, providers organize it into segments based on individual factors like the industry the person works in, audience behaviors, demographics, psychographics, buying patterns and interests. You can pretty much buy a third-party data set to reach even the most obscure audience.

Third-party data is bought and sold programmatically, which means it happens rapidly and generally on a large scale. The large volume and broad scope are some of the primary benefits of third-party data. The downside, especially in today’s privacy-centric world, is that you don’t know the original source of the data. Another consideration is that this data is sold over and over again. You have no exclusivity to it.

In next week’s column, we’ll look at how you can and should be using your first-, second- and third-party data and where the privacy laws are pushing us next.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.
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Navigating social media during a long-term crisis

June 7, 2022

When the world experiences a short-term crisis like a storm or school shooting, it’s easy to know what to do. You mute your social media marketing for a few days out of respect for the situation and how people are responding to it.

But what’s the proper etiquette when the crisis or disaster is not going to wrap up in a few days? The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is showing all the signs of being a long conflict with new events and news coming from that region of the world every day.

Should you just go dark until it’s resolved?

There is no definitive right answer to this question. But I do believe there are best practices and practical considerations we should all keep in mind as we navigate this situation with our brand. In some ways, it’s the ideal time to be active online. People are generally more active on social during a crisis because they’re checking their news sources more often.

But how do you engage in a way that feels respectful to the situation and still helps you accomplish your marketing goals?

No matter what you decide to do, at the very least, you need to make sure your brand is not being insensitive to the reality of the day. Double-check that your existing marketing platforms like your website do not have copy or imagery that would suggest you’re being thoughtless about the circumstance. If you’re running advertising, double-check that there’s no room for interpretation or misunderstanding.

After you do that, you should turn your attention to your social media posts and placements. If you use any sort of automated tool to share social posts across platforms, you’ll want to consider pausing that automation since you aren’t actively monitoring all of the content. This is a time to be very intentional about what you share or don’t share.

For many brands, social media is a pivotal channel within their marketing mix. Unfortunately, the crisis in Ukraine is likely to go on for some time. Halting all activity for a long period may have a significant impact. The key to handling this well (meaning to avoid backlash that tarnishes your brand, embarrasses your employees or customers, etc.) is active management and erring on the side of being a tad oversensitive.

You absolutely can still post and even sell online, but you need to remember where your audience’s heads and hearts are in the moment.

Double-check your copy, calls to actions, and even your tone to make sure it will play well in the current environment. Be mindful of your frequency, and if you’re inclined to take a stand or comment on the world event, do so with respect for the wide range of people you are probably talking to at any given moment. If you do comment on what’s going on, be sure you are monitoring your account for comments or reactions. You don’t want to let those sit for too long without a response.

Use this time to double down on engaging with your audience. Everyone is probably feeling the tension of the day, and this is the moment to be more human, not less. When the world feels uncertain or scary, we all hunger for more connection. This is a wonderful time to let the human side of your brand shine.

Remember that people are hypersensitive right now, so you also need to temper your reactions to any comments or responses you get. The watchwords when posting during a crisis are grace and patience. Give yourself and your audience plenty of both.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.
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The power of influencer marketing

May 31, 2022

In last week’s column, I applied some tough love on the idea of using influencer marketing. I wasn’t in any way suggesting that brands avoid using the power of influencer marketing. But I sounded some warning signals around how not understanding the nuances and legalities of the practice can get a brand into some serious trouble.

I promised I would follow that column with a look at the bright side of micro influencer marketing.

Just a refresher from last week: An influencer is someone who has built an audience and community around a specific niche. Influencers are people who have the power to affect buying decisions of others because of their position of authority, knowledge, celebrity or status.

While many micro influencers are famous within their own circle of influence, they’re not on the radar screen of the general public. We’re not talking celebrity endorsements here. We’re talking about ordinary people who have established themselves as experts in their area of genius. They might be a doctor, a professor, a consultant or a chef. They also might be a 16-year-old tech head who knows how to talk tech to teens.

But if they have garnered the attention and trust of your potential customer, they can be magic for your brand.

There are several advantages of working with a micro influencer. Here are some worth taking into consideration as you explore whether this tactic is right for your business.

Access: Macro influencers like the Rock or Jill Michaels are out of the reach and budgets of most brands. But micro influencers are much more accessible and affordable. They’re also more likely to be willing to bend their own rules or make concessions as part of a partnership.

The depth of connection: Unlike the audience of macro influencers, many followers of a micro influencer have actually met or communicated with them in some way. They’re not as guarded or protected, which means their audience does not adore them from afar, they actually feel like they know them.

The real factor: When you see a macro influencer in action, it occurs to you that they’re being compensated for whatever product or service they’re sharing. But with a micro influencer, their endorsements are typically much more genuine. Because they typically have a day job along with their side hustle (the influencer partnerships), they often endorse products or services they like, whether they are being paid or not.

Of course, if they’re being paid, they must disclose that. But they’re also less likely to accept a contract for something they aren’t genuinely proud to endorse. This is something their audience understands and counts on.

Engagement: When you have 3 or 4 four million followers, it’s pretty difficult to create any sort of real engagement. Sure, someone might get retweeted once in a blue moon or have a comment liked, but there’s not a lot of actual connection or conversation.

That’s very different if the influencer has tens of thousands of followers in comparison. Their engagement level is much deeper and more frequent. Their audience feels seen and important. The engagement among the community is greater as well. The influencer acts like a host of sorts, helping people make connections through their common interest.

For many brands, partnering with a micro influencer who has the ear and the buying interest of their niche audience is a very worthwhile investment.

While there’s no doubt you need to proceed with some caution, a good legal contract, and an understanding of the nuances of influencer marketing, the benefits can be quite impressive and cost-effective. Well worth the experiment!

 

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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Working with influencers

May 24, 2022

One of the fastest growing marketing trends over the last five years has been working with influencers.

An influencer is someone who has built an audience and community around a specific niche. Influencers are people who have the power to sway the buying decisions of others because of their position of authority, knowledge, celebrity or status. We immediately think of celebrity influencers like the Rock or Jill Michaels or Rachel Ray, but for most brands, they’re not working with celebrities. Instead, they are working with micro influencers who have a very narrow (but deep) sphere of “celebrity” tied to their expertise.

We also tend to think of influencers in the B-to-C space, like a fashion Instagrammer or a video game YouTuber. But there are many B-to-B micro influencers as well.

Influencer marketing can be a potent addition to your marketing strategy, but there are some important aspects of working with these professionals that can go very wrong if you don’t dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

Here are some of the biggies:

Who owns the content created on the brand’s behalf by the influencer? U.S. copyright law says that whoever creates the content owns the content. However, if you write the contract properly, you can transfer the ownership to another party, like the brand.

It’s not quite that cut and dried, however. Most influencers want to retain the ownership because it’s part of their body of work. In some cases, a licensing agreement and defined scope of usage rights may be the best bet.

But … deal with ownership before you ink the deal in some way.

Exclusivity: It makes perfect sense. Brands don’t really want to partner with an influencer who is also writing about and raving about their competitor’s products or services. But influencers are loath to restrict their potential earning power by accepting too broad or too long of an exclusivity agreement.

There’s a fine art to finding the happy middle ground on this issue. Naturally the brand has every right to want some white space around the influencer’s promotions for them and the work they might do for others. In some cases, the exclusivity can be applied to a narrow product category. Or the length of the exclusivity can be altered so that it’s not too onerous on the influencer’s ability to earn a living.

The oops clause: There are many reasons why a brand might need to pull content that has been posted somewhere. It could be inaccurate. It could have triggered a consumer revolt. It could be accidentally in bad taste. Or there could be some sort of issue with the product or service. You always want to negotiate what is called a take-down clause.

Influencers themselves can create a reason for using the take-down clause. They may post something that the brand does not want to be associated with or they might get involved in some sort of public or semipublic scandal.

From the influencer’s point of view, they can be negatively affected (financially or reputation-wise) if their content suddenly disappears. They make their money based on engagement. The very drama the brand is trying to avoid by asking for the content to be removed may be driving huge engagement numbers for the influencer.

For all of these reasons, this needs to be carefully thought through and negotiated before you sign the contract.

I know I haven’t made working with influencers sound all that appealing in this column. But there are plenty of reasons why it’s worth it to go through these negotiations. In next week’s column we’ll talk about the upside of influencer marketing and why you should consider putting it into your marketing mix.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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I want to be seen

May 17, 2022

This column is the last of the trends series we’ve been working through over the past several weeks. The overarching theme to the series was that our world has been in crisis for the past two years and, like every other crisis in history, it’s going to be followed by a season of great reinvention and change. As marketers, we are going to have many opportunities to capitalize on that in the coming year.

As we explore this final trend, my goal is to get you thinking about how you can take advantage of these trends as you work to serve your clients and employees, grow your businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

Last week we identified that people are hungry to feel like they belong and are connected to others. While this is not a new sentiment, the isolation and fear that everyone has endured over the past couple of years has certainly exaggerated how acutely people need shared experiences and hanging with their people.

This final trend is all about the opposite. The idea that I am unique and should be treated as an individual. Don’t lump me in with others. See the real me. Pay attention to the real me. Cater to the real me.

Just a reminder, the six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

This “it’s all about me” trend is much more nuanced than simply wanting customized communications and experiences. But it does start there. Consumers want to be seen as individuals and appreciated for their uniqueness. They’re willing to spend more or exert more energy to establish themselves as one of a kind.

Interestingly, much of this hunger to be an individual is an attempt to fit in, as ironic as that sounds. Today’s consumer believes they can achieve a certain level of status and belonging because they stand out. Being quirky and interesting is in right now.

Another way this concept of “it’s all about me” is playing out is how people are deciding where to shop these days. Consumers want to match their spending with their values, and that’s another way this individualism is coming to life. Marketplaces like Etsy and other places where you can access one-of-a-kind items or work directly with a creator are a powerful way to pay homage to the individual.

We’ve seen a surge of interest in anything that is custom made or created in small batches. Specialty grocery items, subscriptions offering product exclusivity, and items that boast sustainability are all gaining in popularity right now. Subscriptions have also trickled into retail locations. Monthly dining clubs, unlimited coffee subscriptions and even subscription-only restaurants are popping up with greater frequency.

One of the undercurrents of this trend is a continued hunger for authenticity, especially when it comes to creating community. People want to be connected with and hear from people like them. Online communities that bring people together around a specific cause, disease, hobby or focus are growing in number and popularity.

At the heart of this trend is the need to feel seen and respected for exactly who you are. As you think about your marketing efforts, be mindful that while there are certainly some commonalities among your prospects and current clients, the last thing in the world you want to do is to make them feel as though you’re lumping them in with everyone else.

To win their business and their brand loyalty, you’re going to have to go out of your way to see and treat them as the individuals that they are.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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We crave connecting with our people

May 10, 2022

In an ongoing series, we’ve been acknowledging that 2022 is going to be a watershed year. Out of every crisis in history, moments of great reinvention and change were born, and we are going to have many opportunities to capitalize on that in the coming year.

As we explore the last two trends in this week’s column and next, we’re going to examine some of the overarching themes that are emerging as clear patterns. My goal is to get you thinking about how you can take advantage of these trends as you work to serve your clients and employees, grow your businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

Last week we recognized that people are weary of having to be a grown-up during a crisis. The desire for play and simpler times is not a surprise, given the last 22 months. It was a trend that was already gaining some ground before the pandemic. That’s also true about this week’s trend, the hunger for experiences and connections.

In many ways, this is a more mature trend that is just continuing to influence our culture that simply got exaggerated by the pandemic.

Just a reminder, the six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

Stuff was already on its way out. People were moving into tiny homes, shifting gift-giving to experiences, and thinking about how minimalistic they could get. We watched as families traded Christmas at home for an adventure and memories long before we were sequestered to our homes for months on end.

Another way this trend is showing up is in the formation of and popularity of affinity groups. We are eager to hang out with people like us, with shared passions, hobbies, causes or beliefs. Many of these types of groups existed before COVID, but when people are stuck at home and live on their computers, you can see how these groups increased their numbers and, even more important, their activity levels.

From a marketing viewpoint, this trend can yield incredible results if mined properly, especially the idea of like-minded people gathering together.

For many businesses, attending conferences and trade shows is an efficient and effective way to find a large group of prospects in the same place at the same time. Whether you exhibit or just mix and mingle with the attendees, there’s lots of opportunity to make connections, learn what the hot topics of the day are, and demonstrate your expertise in conversations.

Online communities serve the same purpose, but they also bring some additional advantages.

You can’t eavesdrop on people at a trade show without looking creepy or being asked to leave. But in an online community you not only can eavesdrop in real time, but you can go back and search for previous conversations to look for trends, common questions, unmet needs and insights on competitors.

You can also jump into conversations and offer advice and guidance. Remember, this isn’t the place to sell. It’s the place to help. But you will form some meaningful relationships and can earn quite the reputation for your expertise and willingness to be a resource.

Eventually, that will convert to sales.

Some brands are actually creating their own communities, gathering their biggest fans together and inviting prospects and others in as well. It’s like your own focus group, mixed with some R&D, and a customer advocacy program. They take time and attention, but you may find it your most fruitful marketing tactic of 2022.

The need to connect and be a part of something isn’t new. But the pandemic underlined the need for both for many people and has created even more opportunity for your brand.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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What’s old is new again

May 3, 2022

For the past few weeks, we’ve been settling into the reality that 2022 is going to bring a sea change for us as business leaders. Out of every crisis in history, moments of great reinvention and change were born. And given history’s examples, the pandemic more than qualified as a trend-altering crisis.

As we explore the last three trends over the next several columns, we’re going to examine some of the overarching themes that are emerging as clear patterns. My goal is to get you thinking about how you can anticipate and leverage these trends to your advantage as you work to continue to serve your clients and employees, grow your businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

Last week we dug into the power of looking for new ways to combine offerings, partners and deliverables. This week we’re going to focus on what makes perfect sense, given what we’ve all been through. The longing for simpler, better times. This look back in time with wistful fondness is nothing new. We’ve seen this particular trend many times before.

Just a reminder, the six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

The throwback to simpler times is often a trend we see after a season of turmoil. This trend was on the rise before the pandemic. Just try to buy a vinyl record album these days if you’d like to see this trend in action. But it was certainly accelerated by the lockdown and restriction of freedoms, virtual schooling, etc. But it goes beyond resurrecting old toys, hobbies or activities.

It’s also a desire to go back to our youth in other ways. There’s a playfulness and carefree attitude that comes along with this trend. This is the “stop taking life so seriously” trend. People are craving a less stressful existence, so we’re seeing a surge in adventure travel, bike sales and other active-lifestyle, more youthful activities and products.

This trend also shows up in people’s desire to get back to nature and protect the environment. We’re seeing an increase in demand for organic and locally grown foods, a drive for sustainable packaging and products, and a demand for corporate awareness about their carbon footprint.

How do we think about our work in relation to this trend? All three of these variations of the “good old days” theme can be useful as you think about talking to your customers and prospects.

From an advertising point of view, this might be a very smart time to talk about your brand and your values. The origin story of those values will have a throwback element to it. Weaving client testimonials about how you live those values would also reinforce the message in a tangible way.

Depending on who you serve and what you sell, you might also be able to lean into the “stop taking life so seriously” or the desire to play. If you can demonstrate how the work you do on your customers’ behalf can relieve your customers’ worry or help them carve out time for taking a vacation or having some type of adventure, that should land well right now.

This trend seems like a bit of a duh. Everyone is stressed and feeling like they have been adulting nonstop. They want things to be less complicated and more fun. Finding a way to convey that you understand those emotions and desires and can help them accomplish that goal should resonate well.

And don’t forget, your employees are experiencing this same trend. This might be helpful in your internal communications as well.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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Let’s mix it up

April 26, 2022

For the last few weeks, we’ve been settling into the reality that 2022 is going to bring a sea change for us as business leaders. Out of every crisis in history, moments of great reinvention and change were born.

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to examine some of the overarching themes of the emerging patterns and think through how we can anticipate and leverage these trends to our advantage as we work to continue to serve our clients and employees, grow our businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

Last week we dug into the need for simplicity and specialization. This week we’re going to focus on what seems like a counter shift to that – the idea of creating something new by blending two or more existing products, services or brands.

Just a reminder, the six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

One of the truths when it comes to shifts in consumer expectations, needs or beliefs is that you can magnify your impact, increase the speed of growth and brand affinity, and create more buzz when you align with more than one shift or emerging belief at a time.

That’s what this idea of creating the blend is all about. It’s when we combine existing offerings, layer on some additional value, add new access points (for example, adding a digital component) or partner with another brand that serves the same or a tangential audience. This idea is tricky because we’re messing with what’s working. That’s a risk.

In my opinion, this is the shift that requires the most curiosity and the most courage. On the courage side, you’re taking offerings that are already popular or selling well and changing them. We all remember New Coke! Or you’re inviting another fox into your hen house by creating collaborations with others.

Interestingly, collaboration could be with another brand or even your own customers. While there are certainly risks to both, there’s also the opportunity to widen (brand) or deepen (customers) your community. But you have to share your community with them as well.

On the curiosity side, you’re asking yourself some challenging questions. What could I pair my products or services with that would add additional value? Or think of it this way: Everyone serves bacon or sausage with eggs. What have I never seen before that would bring in new customers or surprise and delight my existing customers?

It’s easy to ask these types of questions when something is broken, but you have to force the curiosity when it seems like everything is in place. There are some reasonably easy ways to add access and value (digital, new formats or bundling packages, AI enhancements, etc.) that might be a good place to start, if you’re struggling. But we have to get out of our own way to find the safe space to be this curious and this willing to fix something that technically does not need fixing.

Another way to play around with this trend is to observe how your clients currently use your product or service. They very well may, on their own, be enhancing what you do. Usability studies and focus groups are also good idea generators.

This trend demands that we really get into the psyche of our clients and have a deep understanding, from a functional point of view, of exactly what our offerings deliver. We also need to be willing to question and, when possible, shake up the status quo.

 

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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Keep it simple, stupid

April 19, 2022

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been settling into the reality that 2022 is going to bring a sea change for us as business leaders. Out of every crisis in history, moments of great reinvention and change were born.

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to examine some of the overarching themes of the emerging patterns and think through how we can anticipate and leverage these trends to our advantage as we work to continue to serve our clients and employees, grow our businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

Last week we dug into the need for urgency, but even more important, understanding what our consumer’s ultimate outcome was before we rushed to the wrong finish line. This week we’re going to focus on the hunger for simplification.

Just a reminder, the six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

Of all six trends, this is the least startling, in my opinion. After the last two years of complexity, we crave simplicity. Fewer choices. Less noise. More definitive answers. We want direction and clarity. Our clients want us to help them curate their options, reduce the numbers of layers, hoops, and additional fluff, and – harking back to last week’s focus (no time to wait) – get it to us yesterday.

Building comparative charts or interactive tools on your site that help prospects narrow down to the perfect solution for their unique set of challenges will be welcomed. Training your salespeople to shift away from presenting all of the possibilities and instead asking better curating questions, so they can quickly reduce the options down to the best-fit choices would also be a wise move.

As consumers, we’ve had to get used to getting by with fewer and simpler choices. For many people, they discovered that this made life easier, they didn’t really miss out on anything, and they’re not ready to go back to having an overwhelming array of options.

Another way to look at the simplification need is that this is about hyper-specialization. Show me that you’re the right choice for me because you only serve other people who are a lot like me.

The subscription box phenomenon, which in fairness started before the pandemic, hit an all-time zenith during and after the lockdown. Prepackaged and pre-measured meals? Sign me up. Curated treats and toys for my heavy-chewing, “can rip through anything” dog? Sign me up. Three new outfits that show up every month in my exact size and curated based on my sense of style? Yes, please.

Wondering how this sentiment is being experienced by your own customers? This would be an excellent area to probe in a client survey or discussions with the top 20% of your customers. Learning what aspects of your business are the elements that they really care about will give you some clues as to where you could really double down on what you offer and where you should focus your simplification efforts.

This trend goes deeper than the need for fewer choices or ease of access, like the subscription model. At the heart of this shift is the fundamental acknowledgement that we’d rather pay a little more for something that is tailor-made for us and reduce the waste and churn of “not quite right” products and services.

This bodes well for specialists of all kinds. Find your tribe, learn as much as you can about exactly what they need and want, and help them create an affinity for both your brand and what your brand can do for them.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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How can we go any faster?

April 12, 2022

We have accepted the idea that 2022 is going to bring a sea change for us as business leaders. Out of every crisis in history, moments of great reinvention and change are born. It’s pretty easy to argue that a global crisis like the pandemic is bound to bring sizable shifts for all of us.

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to examine some of the overarching themes of the emerging patterns and think through how we can anticipate and leverage these trends to our advantage as we work to continue to serve our clients and employees, grow our businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

The six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

The first of these shifts is no time to wait. This trend is all about pent-up demand, a feeling that we’re behind the eight ball, and a hunger for relief and change. It’s also about us needing the sense of completion.

We have, in essence, been waiting for 20-plus months. Waiting to have experiences, to travel, to have our freedoms back, and to advance and grow. We’ve been told to “be patient” with everyone from the grocery delivery service to access to health care to fulfilling any sort of personal or professional goals.

No wonder we’re so impatient! We have to anticipate that our clients expect us to rise to their level of impatience and to be committed to helping them get what they want as quickly as possible, without delays or complications.

One of the most interesting aspects of this shift is that it forces us to really look at our customers and ask, “What are they really trying to achieve?”

This is going to push us to think beyond features and benefits to get to an ultimate outcome. Once we determine what that ultimate outcome is, our job as marketers is to perfect that element of our offering and put the spotlight on it in our marketing. For those of you with a background in psychology, this is your moment to shine. Marketing has always been about understanding underlying needs and wants, but we can no longer afford to stop at a surface level. The fascinating and tricky thing is that our customers may not really understand what their actual ultimate goal is either.

But the one thing they absolutely know is that they don’t want to meander to the finish line. They want (and expect) us to help them get there faster and as efficiently as possible. We’re now going to be held not only to the deliverable, but to the speed at which we can deliver it.

What does that look like?

It may be about using technology to drive results and outcomes faster. If you have been avoiding learning about artificial intelligence, I believe your time for keeping your head in the sand is over. Leveraging AI for predictive modeling to anticipate the right course, data about the journey and proof of outcomes has moved from a talk topic to a very practical business application.

This trend is also about removing barriers to accelerate outcomes or experiences. Our clients expect us to help them get to whatever they’ve defined as the goal line faster. Lag times in our sales process, product delivery and customer service responses will be met with literal and figurative abandoned carts.

But ultimately, what it looks like is a lot of product and service tweaking both in what we offer and how we deliver it. It’s about understanding the root need, modifying our offerings to deliver that need at a deeper level, and then getting it done even faster!

 

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.

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