Embrace Utility Marketing — Even If You're Not A US Brand

Last month I blogged about the impressive growth of always addressable customers among US online adults. We've just seen the data for Europe, and I can confirm what we all knew instinctively: This is not just a US phenomenon. At least one-third of European online adults are always addressable today — and the pace of this evolution is only accelerating.

These customers are exposed to more brand interactions than ever before simply because they're always connected to some kind of digital media. But this doesn't mean you should just push even more brand-centric messages out to them. Instead, the opportunity is to demonstrate your brand promise — not just talk about it — by creating programs that are visibly and functionally useful from your customers' point of view. That's what we call utility marketing.

Last year, in our research about the mobile mind shift, we discussed the five primary strategies you can employ to achieve this kind of utility:

  1. Become a trusted agent.
  2. Solve a customer problem.
  3. Get out of the customer's way.
  4. Automate mundane tasks.
  5. Fulfill a need they didn't know they had.

But make no mistake: Utility marketing, and these five strategies, can and must be incorporated across all of your marketing channels — not just mobile, and not even just digital.  

Take, for example, Intersect by Lexus. Already open in Tokyo and coming soon to Dubai and New York, Intersect is a Lexus brand experience where you can't buy a car, but you can buy a latte. The idea is to demonstrate the brand's value by creating a space where consumers can dine, lounge, indulge in art installations, and surround themselves with the brand whether or not they're ready to buy a car. This isn't a one-channel program — it's a totally transformative, marketing-led, customer experience.

Most utility marketing programs aren't this complex. In fact, most marketers aren't ready for this kind of transformation yet. In my speech next week at our Forum for Marketing Leaders in London, I'll discuss programs across the spectrum of utility marketing, from simple and organic programs where utility is added to an existing channel or campaign, through highly complex and transformative programs that blur the lines between marketing, product, and experience. I hope to see you there!

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