Today’s customers are highly empowered, hyperactive, and incredibly distracted by all of the options available to them for connecting with the things and people that matter to them most. These customers come to you with highly complex goals that they themselves cannot always accurately define — goals for which they don’t necessarily follow the seemingly logical linear paths you’ve laid out for them. As customers multitask their way through stages of information gathering, evaluation, purchase, and servicing, they connect with multiple outside sources that influence and transform their goals if they don’t hijack them altogether.
Gone are the days of the funnel when companies could lure customers with big promises and push them through a set of steps that would lead to purchase. Today, customer processes are far more complicated than ever, and while many firms believe that the purchase is the endpoint of an experience, for many customers, it’s just the beginning. Instead of taking a fragmented approach, firms need to look at the broad customer journey and understand how they can meet their customers’ needs when and where their customers want to interact. They need to understand their customers’ context and weave together a unified experience that matches the expectations customers have of the brand according to their in-the-moment needs.
At Forrester we spend a lot of time analyzing the impact of digital disruption on business, technology and marketing. We even wrote a book on the subject. But don't just take our word for it. At Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA, MickePaqvalén, Founder, Chairman and Entrepreneur at Kiosked- a platform that turns any online content, images, videos and applications into interactive and viral storefronts - will present his view on what it takes to think, and act, like a (digital) disruptor. The below Q&A gives a summary of my conversation with Micke as a preview to his session on day two of our Forum, which takes place in London on May 21 - 22.
Q: You've founded and sold several successful start-ups. How do you tell the difference between real innovation opportunities and over-hyped ideas?
A: When I hear about new business ideas I always ask one question: How does it benefit everyone involved or which existing problem does it solve? That’s it. It’s a simple test, but if it fails the business will fail. If a business idea is not beneficial it is an over-hyped idea, which sadly happens too often as well. Hype is an important factor of business but I would rather create long-lasting impact.
In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA next week, I also had a chance to connect with Arthur Calderwood, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales Operations at SITA, in advance of his Marketer Spotlight presentation one day one of our event. Arthur will be speaking about how at SITA he blends experiences, products, and messaging to achieve the brand vision. Check out a preview of Arthur’s session in the below Q&A, or join me in London, May 21-22, to hear SITA’s full story.
Q: Does content and thought leadership play a more important role in B2B branding today? At what stage in the customer lifecycle does content make the biggest impact?
A: Content is critical in building credibility and also as a way to differentiate versus your competitors. But from a B2B perspective you have to be sure you are or can be seen as a credible thought leader with the right expertise to deliver valuable content and opinion. Many companies end up writing pieces which are often too generic, do not deliver real value and unfortunately blend into the mass of other communication on the same topic. Strategically you need to carefully pick the topics you will address, possibly partner with another credible source on the topic, conduct some primary research and be willing to take a stand in the discussion. At SITA we have, for the air transport industry, run a series of annual trend surveys and reports (Airline IT Trends, Airport IT Trends, Baggage & Passenger Self Service trends). These provide us with a platform to write content, released through all channels, to engage the market. They are fortunately unique in our market and have established SITA as a credible source for this type of know-how.
It's just one more week before Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA (May 21st to 22nd) in London kicks off. Our analysts are excited to unveil the latest Forrester ideas such as the mobile mind shift in Europe, the database of affinity (in which we expect Google to win platform of choice over Facebook), and the latest in mobile marketing and engagement. Our analysts will combine forces with industry keynote speakers such as Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer at Blackberry; Markus Kramer, global marketing director at Aston Martin Lagonda; Pete Blackshaw, global head of digital and social media at Nestlé; Greg Williams, executive editor at Wired; Yannick Grecourt, COO, head of strategy and marketing at Deutsche Bank Belgium; and Micke Paqvalen, founder and chairman of the innovative startup Kiosked.
As we make our final preparations for the event, I caught up with Markus Kramer, global marketing director at Aston Martin Lagonda, about the opportunities and challenges specific to luxury brand marketing. Here's what he had to say:
Q: Based on your experiences at Aston Martin, and before that at Harley-Davidson, what in your view makes marketing for luxury brands different?
Your perpetually-connected customers are seeking information from a much broader range of sources than ever before. If you just work with the same traditional influencers you have for years — industry analysts and mainstream media — your message risks getting lost in a sea of noise. Instead, leading marketers are identifying key online influencers for their products and marketing to them specifically. These influencers are highly specific, and are not the same for any two products or solutions, or even two different audiences of a single product.
The value of reaching out to a non-traditional list of influencers was illustrated this week by Microsoft’s marketing campaign for the new Surface Pro.
Mike “Gabe” Krahulik is the author of the long-running Penny Arcade, a popular webcomic about video game culture. He said on Twitter he was “interested in the Surface Pro,” and due to the target audience and popularity of his comic, Microsoft sent him a demo unit. Gabe’s not a technology journalist; he’s not an industry analyst; he’s just someone with a passionate and tech-savvy following — a following which includes perpetually-connected customers who influence technology purchasing.
What happened next? Gabe wrote a full-length, relatively positive, review of the Surface Pro and its applications for media professionals that was not only read by his audience, but became a top link on TechMeme, a tech news aggregator.