The Five Ps of Marketing traditionally taught in business courses – product, price, promotion, place, and people – are being disrupted by technology. Meet the new Eight Ps of Relationshipping: personalization, product personalization, presence, pervasiveness, publishing, platform, prediction, and privacy.
By George Wiedemann
With the introduction of smartphones just over two decades ago, connecting billions of us with purveyors of goods and services around the globe, we are living through a dramatic pace of change putting the customer in charge.
It’s worth repeating – consumers want to connect to brands. When a need or desire strikes, the customer journey-to-brand connection predominantly begins with search, on desktops, laptops and mobile phones, then centers in the brand website or app. It also coincides with traditional physical visits and customer service interaction. This shift to predominantly digital and virtual interaction has not only put the consumer in charge, but it has also fostered the consumer’s desire for the brand to know them and to customize the journey, the user experience, product, and service for them, if not to completely personalize it.
In the consumer’s words: Please know me. In my pressured micro-moment world, please interact with relevance and efficiency. The bottom line for the C Suite: After product satisfaction, working towards personalization is vital to staying competitive and profitable. The digital connectivity dynamic changes the traditional Five Ps of Marketing into these new Eight Ps of Relationshipping.
According to the ANA’s Marketing Knowledge Center “Ask the Expert” service, member questions on personalization started to pick up in 2018 and accelerated sharply in 2019. The team issued a report on personalization in mid-2019 that included these highlights:
- More than half of consumers expect companies to know their buying habits and anticipate their needs.
- Half of marketers plan to increase investments in personalization technology.
- One report participant identified personalization as the most important marketing trend of this century.
As we all know and have lived through, COVID put the brakes on personalization investment which put the brakes on this movement in 2020 and 2021. It’s back here in 2022.
As we all know marketers must use care and caution with their personalization strategies and tactics. “Ask the Expert” data suggests that consumers can be underwhelmed by marketing efforts to personalize interactions. Meanwhile, more personalization does not necessarily provide a better experience. There is some consumer skepticism, lack of understanding and even mistrust over the use of data for marketing purposes. My practice is to watch the big brands, like Apple and Amazon, wrestle with this to build trust. The key to make it work and build trust for your brand is transparency and giving the consumer control, as in Apple’s practice to let you block apps from using cookies to follow you around.
“Please know me. In my pressured micro-moment world,
please interact with relevance and efficiency.”
For personalization every brand needs a CDP (Customer Data Platform) organized for identity that is up-to-date with accurate data of all interactions and transactions. The CDP will not only be used for personalized communications and interactions, but also to support AI enabling the automated assistants to serve customers knowledgably and effectively.
Despite the complexities and natural resistances that come up in any relationship, personalization presents significant opportunities for brands to deliver more relevant communications and engagement experiences for their prospects and customers.
This P is best managed by the product management team. To wit: Because I am a regular Levi’s direct buyer, the company recently contacted me to introduce their Levi’s Future Finish offering. Here is how Levis’ website describes how to customize the Custom 502 product:
- Laser technology allows you to customize the wash of these jeans
- Choose a pattern, level of distressing, overall tint, and special back patch; our original back patch is made of leather, and fluorescent color options are made of FSC-certified Jacron paper
- This innovative process uses fewer chemicals for a cleaner jean with the same craftsmanship we’re known for
- Fits with extra room for comfort
- Tapered through the leg for a modern look
- Made with sustainable, TENCELtm fabric
Once these are ordered, all the information goes into the CDP and serves the “buy again” email, while also delivering insight into what the customer may be inclined to purchase next. Once the customer personalizes their product, the brand is enabled to focus on a more relevant exchange going forward.
PRESENCE AND PERVASIVENESS
In an age of “always on” and micro-moments (i.e., the ZMOT – zero moment of truth – when search patience provides the brand a few seconds to engage or lose out), it’s vital that the brand be there for its potential audience.
To some degree all prospects and customers are what Nick Hartland of New Moon calls Digital Natives (all laid out in a great article Nick contributed to www.thecustomer.net entitled “Digital Nativism: A Diagnostic Manual). Brands need to be Digital Native Brands.
Specifically, the website needs to be current and frictionlessly functional, including landing pages and microsites that are used to engage based on what the searcher is looking for. The brand also needs to be alive and up to date in all the social spaces: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn and YouTube – plus all relevant places for the brand’s vertical, as well as all the blogs that influencers and interested shoppers might visit and use.
Brands can no longer sleep. At any time of the day when the consumer shows up, the brand needs to be present and ready to engage.
These days, it is vital to tell the brand story, along with the brand purpose. Brand purpose has become vital to all stakeholders. In particular Millennial and Generation Z consumers want their workplace to give them career purpose. It should come as no surprise, then, that they would gravitate to brands whose purpose aligns explicitly with their values. In addition to advertising, brands must move toward becoming publishers of their own brand story, emphasizing the brand purpose. White papers and robust blog content amplify the brand by giving their consumers the most enrichment possible.
The gravity of this gesture sometimes escapes attention at the C-Suite level. Consumers take brands into their lives. Consumers want to talk to others about the brand. They want to feel good enough about the brand to welcome its logo into their lives and to wear it as a badge of pride. And in a relationship, the consumer wants to be favored: Can I get to the front of the line, and have deals please? The value of the consumer relationship needs to be communicated clearly. Given our connected world and its efficiency to disseminate content, brands are now publishers.
The brand platform online (or app) must provide an exceptional experience. Think Amazon – one of the best platforms to emulate.
If your C-Suite lacks an in-house analytics team to focus on all the prospect and customer metrics in the CDP, then it is vital to employ an outside partner firm for the task.
I describe omnichannel optimization as unified communications – the goal being to broaden the idea beyond just executing silo budgets into having communications work well creatively across the journey delivering a unified brand experience. For Relationshipping to work well, it is important to have excellent analytic capabilities. Strong analytics drives the ability to predict where the brand is going for prospects and customers.
Analytics is also vital because corporate valuation is moving from discounted cash flow to customer-based corporate valuation (CBCV). The C-Suite needs strong analytics to optimize spend across all the silos (grounded in Customer Lifetime Value), in order to predict where and how much the customer base is growing, and it’s valuation of the enterprise.
Vitally important these days: Manage your brand privacy with great care, transparency, and sensitivity. Let your customers control their data and reward them for it.
We are living through a dramatic pace of change brought about by the technology revolution. It has been accelerated by COVID and work from home. It is having a profound impact on the enterprises and brands that are advancing – and those that are declining.
My call to all – from those teaching marketing in our educational institutions (especially business schools), to all in the business community who are still using marketing to bring their brand, products, and services to consumers – is this: The new, more sophisticated, more informed discipline of engaging the customer calls for Relationshipping. I encourage you to update from the old Five Ps of Marketing and put the new Eight Ps of Relationshipping in place.
George Wiedemann was founder and CEO of Grey Direct for 21 consecutive years of worldwide growth; CEO of pioneer Silicon Valley email platform Responsys; and CEO of The DRUM Agency. He is founder and CEO of Relationshipping Consulting, focusing on bringing efficiencies to large-scale enterprises through deep budgetary analysis and process alignment. George is also a frequent contributor to TheCustomer.