What Will Smith Taught Me About Marketing

Also known as “What I learned at the 2016 Marketo Summit Keynote in One Word: Authentic”

I’ll admit it. I purchased “Big Willie Style” back when you had to drive to a music store and buy a CD. My sister made me promise never to tell anyone that. Yet here I am, admitting to the internet that I’m jiggy wit it. Although, the fact that I had to google ‘Get Jiggy Wit It meaning’ proves that I am not, in fact, jiggy wit it at all. In all honesty, I am a fan of Will Smith. He has had a long and varied career, which mean that he knows some things about how to market himself.

During his Keynote talk at the 2016 Marketo Summit, Will Smith said “With so much technology available today, it’s forcing people to be authentic. The days of smoke and mirrors are over.” This is as true for companies as it is for individuals. Fancy taglines and elegant marketing campaigns may have informed people’s perceptions in the past, but that won’t fly today.

Today’s customer has access to company data, customer reviews, leadership interviews, videos, tweets and nearly anything else they want to know about a company. And very little of that information is what the company says about itself. The most important and visible information comes from what other people are saying about your company. How were they treated by the customer support rep? Was the website ordering experience up to expectations? Every interaction with a company has the risk or opportunity of public discussion.

Like Will Smith said–The days of smoke and mirrors are over. Customers don’t want slick ad campaigns designed to sell them on a product or service. Today’s customers demand genuine value for their dollar. And they have the power to find the vendor who provides that.

In order for a company to convey their value to that customer in a crowded, noisy marketplace they need to get to know that customer on many levels.

Whereas a sales person is expected to know the customer on a one-to-one basis, the marketer is expected to know the customers en masse. This means the marketer has to develop deep understandings about the motivations and goals of large groups of people (many who are anonymous) and then effectively segment them into workable groups based on campaign logistics and goals.

The sales person generates trust and authenticity with a customer in a much more typical fashion – face to face meetings, phone calls, and emails. Interpersonal skills are likely to be what creates success in that process. The marketer needs to find ways to let technology generate that trust and authenticity with groups of people as well as individuals.

How can use your marketing data to be authentic?

People Lie graphicReact to what people DO, not what people say

“People lie,” says Jason Kodish, Chief Data Scientist with DigitasLBI. He gave some humorous examples to this point which we all probably know intuitively. The problem is that focus groups and surveys are only partially accurate because people don’t give the full truth. Most people don’t have malicious intent but give inaccurate answers for a variety of reasons. Their answers may be skewed because they have a poor memory, feel that one answer is one they “should” give or simply grow fatigued from survey questions.

People’s actions speak much louder than their words. Look at what content people are actually clicking on your websites. Which are the topics that resonate? Start developing more content towards that. Design your content and campaigns so that they can also be experiments to learn more about your customers and prospects. If you are a software company, look into reports that show which parts of your program people are using at their jobs. Understand which customers are power users and those that haven’t adopted the software all. This type of data represents real intelligence and insight.

Why is greater than What graphicConsider the WHY of the data, not just the WHAT

Being authentic means establishing a genuine connection with your customer. Connection requires understanding. Jeriad Zoghby of Accenture Interactive said that the best examples come from small business. Restaurants may know that their favorite customers have food sensitivities and suggest meals that keep them healthy. Storekeepers will remember big events coming up in their customers’ lives and recommend items based on those events. From a digital standpoint, Amazon has nearly perfect this with their algorithms that show you what other customers bought based on similar searches.

Imagine taking this a step further. If you know that there have been increases in customers searching for LED light bulbs, you may talk to customers and learn that they are motivated to reduce their electric bill. Once you understand that their goal isn’t simply a new kind of lightbulb, but the desire to reduce their electric bill you can update your messaging to address that desire. You can also provide other non-lightbulb options for saving on electricity.

Cut through the noise GraphicReally understand your data

There is no shortage of data. You have heaps of your own ‘first-party data’ about your customers and prospects. This demographic and behavior data can come from your CRM, marketing automation tools, website analytics tools and even your billing or accounting systems. Third-party data, or the type that you purchase, is available for nearly any demographic or behavioral question you can ask. MORE data isn’t the answer. The key is to make sense of the data you have.

Successful marketers know how to cut through the noise that all that data creates. Of all your data points, you must figure out which are the ones that really matter. Begin by analyzing your past successes and failures to find common points in each group. What does your best customer look like from a data perspective? What were common activities buyers took in the months and weeks leading up to closed deals? By focusing on the right data and not getting overwhelmed by all the data, you will make better marketing and campaign decisions.

Today’s technology has made the opportunities for connection unlimited, and yet in many ways, it has made that connection feel less valuable. While data may seem like the least personal way to make a connection, it’s the most effective tool for marketing. If you use your data to know WHAT your customers are doing and WHY they are doing it as a way to truly UNDERSTAND them, you can begin to interact with them in a genuine manner. And that is what authenticity is all about.

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