Take yourself back to your 21-year-old self about to embark on a career in marketing. Chances are you chose the profession because you are creative and the idea of working with a like-minded team, workshopping fresh ideas, brainstorming new customer propositions and campaigns was very appealing.
Leap forward to now. Is it less Gruen and more Mad Men? Is your creativity limited to managing staff, maintaining budgets, comparing conversion rates, writing briefs and encouraging others to develop the great ideas for you?
Marketers are often so busy juggling multiple priorities, budgets and stakeholders that creativity is relegated to their personal Instagram. Before writing your next brief for a consultant, team member or agency, why not harness your inner graduate, boost those endorphins and spend 15 minutes working on your own ideas…
Not sure how? Keep reading!
1. Get out of the office
When it comes to innovation in any sector, the end-user is paramount. If you’re struggling to develop ideas, put the customer at the centre of your thoughts. No doubt you’re already looking at the data you have about them, but what are the white gaps that the stats don’t tell you? What are your customers real problems, needs and wants? What would satisfy them in new and powerful ways?
One of the greatest ways to ascertain the truth about your customers is by talking to them. Whilst hiring a qualitative data company to run focus groups is a common choice, taking yourself out onto the shop floor and employing human-centred interviewing and observation techniques can be even more revealing. What you’ll learn from people’s off the cuff remarks, facial expressions and body language cannot be documented in a report and may lead to a powerful solution.
2. Remember to ask why?
We all know that analysis is vital to marketing, however as we transition further and further into the digital age there’s a risk that CTRs, CPMs and CPCs will absorb so much of our analysis time that we fail to remember the human aspect of conversions. These can be the most powerful of all insights.
This is where customer journey mapping becomes crucial. When analysing campaign results and experiences keep asking why people are behaving this way, what are they feeling? Why aren’t they doing what you thought they’d do or, why are they? What can you test quickly to prove or disprove your hypothesis? Keep asking why until you reach the root cause, and then use this as stimulus to build better campaigns and customer experiences.
3. Make use of your frontline
Are you making the most of your call centre, receptionist, retail staff or a customer enquiry centre? These people see and hear insights from your customers that no one else in the organisation does. They see where recurring complaints go unaddressed, where customers behave or interact with marketing, where systems are unsupportive, but without a platform to share these insights, they are unable to affect change.
Create a pathway to glean these valuable insights. Consider regular hackathons, insight portals, Design Sprints or huddles with a practical process for developing ideas, swift low-cost testing, refining, analysis and iteration to overcome challenges.
4. Rollout to learn
Adapting to consumer behaviour and new technology while maintaining a strong customer focus is essential to great marketing. Creating an incredible customer experience means giving consumers what they want before they even realise they want it.
Personalisation, data-driven experiences, automation, AI, Machine Learning and the vast array of marketing tech on offer, creates enormous potential but it’s essential adding value to your customer stays in focus. How can these technologies remove a customer pain-point? What unmet needs can they fulfil? Getting to market quickly, getting feedback and iterating on your ideas is key. Or, even before you’re ready to launch once you’ve created valuable insight loops with customers and frontline staff, use them as sounding board for ideas and prototypes before you commit time and resources.
Innovation is crucial for great marketing and great marketing is crucial to innovation. If you’d like to turn this catch 22 into your own success story and learn powerful user-led marketing tools and skills, as well as more top tips, then take a look at our new workshop, Customer Experience for Marketing.