By Dennis Mambure

The events of 2020 and 2021 have transformed the way customers behave in a number of ways. Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic progressive organisations  regardless of sector, especially   on our continent were spending significant resources in trying to migrate their clients to the digital platforms or to take ecommerce seriously. We now  have seen a significant migration to ecommerce even in areas that we never imagine.  So much has been the digital migration by consumers that  Steve Tzikakis, the Chief Executive of Sitecore  suggested that “ for the first time , the consumer is ahead of the technology that their favourite brands are offering”.  That is really commendable. We are observing clients going digital on almost everything from ordering food, tele-medicine, holiday booking, education, church services, also sorts of payments  among a plethora of other use case. We have also observed a lot of things happening that has a significant impact on how brands and marketers need to respond.  As we approach the yearend and look into the new year, there are a few “this and that” pointers that we have to raise.

Cocreation

How do marketers keep pace with the customers who are way advanced and knowledgeable about technology? Gone are the days that brand can come up with something out of the world that the customers have not heard or thought of. If that is the case, brands need to embrace the concept of co-creation. The time of working with clients to improve innovations, experience and brand acceptance is now. Our customers are an oilfield of knowledge and experience. Involve them, harvest the knowledge that they have. Every Single Point of Contact ( SPOC) is an opportunity to learn, influence and impress. There is no room for zero-value encounters (ZVE). The enemy of progress going into 2022 is ZVE. Every encounter should counter. Marketers should put in place mechanisms of harvesting data  that is generated at every SPOC. No option. If we do that we keep abreast with customers’ expectations and lived experiences.

Hedonics

There are few things that are necessary to do in the next normal that we are now permanent residence of. From what we see things like masks are here to stay. These should now graduate from being viewed only as Personal Protective Equipment. They are also part of our  dressing. Marketers working together with designers and fashionistas should recognise that the blue , white or black versions of masks that we see available are boring. How can these be designed to meet the required health standards while addressing the functional, fashion and even hedonic needs of customers. Remember prescription spectacles have moved from simple thick lenses to fashion statements. We see a lot of styles and big brands on these spectacles. How about on the masks? How do we make them interesting and fashionable? Clients are looking to brands to do this at scale.

To be trained or not

It is interesting to note the pandemic has played a significant part in the growth of the marketing profession.  Digital marketing has also grown phenomenally to the extent that there are some reckless statements being thrown out there that one does not need to have a marketing  qualification to do marketing. This is so because a number of digital marketing planning and executions such as programmatic advertising, SEO Marketing,  among a number of similar tactics and strategies seem to be effectively done by anyone , even those outside the profession. What escapes the proponents of such dangerous statements is that almost all careers are going through some transformation. The core of marketing still remains and at some point, the skills of a marketers remain grounded in basics. At the core of marketing is not beautiful creatives or pushing out content on the digital platforms. The core of marketing is the ability to create value for clients and the organisation. That value creations goes beyond the ability to run SEO campaigns. It is about the ability to create brands, understand clients behaviour on and offline, clarity of the financial aspects of marketing, having insights of the marketplace- customer, competitors, industry, regulations among others. As we go into 2022, let’s not glorify one sided views of marketing but rather focus on a holistic and well-grounded marketer who has a 360-degree view of the business. Let the marketing teams be trained the basics of marketing, Martechs, Big Data among a plethora of other key marketing concepts and practice. Get trained!

Data Privacy and the Marketing Question

One interesting development that is going in the world is the tightening of data privacy and protection regulations. This has a big impact on how marketers need to approach their digital marketing going forward. In the years past, advertisers could get away with generic advertising riding on the abundance of third-party cookies. Put simply , third party cookies  allow marketers to track  users’ internet behaviour over time. However, this is changing .We have already seen big tech companies blocking third party cookies on their respective browsers. The net effect  of this move is that data becomes difficult to get. Brands need to start building their own customer data and the only way to do so is to attract clients to their digital assets if they hope to utilise ecommerce as a way to serve these clients. The success of ecommerce and indeed digital marketing hinges on availability of customer data for effective targeting.  This is where loyalty building strategies become necessary among marketers. Marketers need to figure out how to navigate a cookieless future.

Waning Customer Patience

Clients endurance and patience has waned because of the pandemic. Spending 30minutes in a queue is no longer acceptable. Clients have learnt that every second counts. What ecommerce and digital purchases have enabled is the ability to go through the entire transaction process in a matter of seconds. Now going to the physical shop may cause a lot of unhappiness if there is a gap between online and offline experience. Brands need to be innovative. Where possible certain processes may need to start online and get completed in store, in order to reduce time, spent in store.  Introduction of digital driven self service points in shops maybe one way of  dealing with customers sensitivity to time. Customers should be able to pick their grocery items , for example, walk to a self-scanning point, use their credit, or debit cards and check out without any human interface.

The year ahead is promising, and marketers should scale up and take advantage of what the future holds. Merry Christmas and a happy new year

Dennis is a Marketing and Communications Practitioner with interests in branding, strategy , customer experience and digital marketing . He writes in his personal capacity and feedback can be sent to dnmambure@gmail.com